Aaron's Answers: Was Spriggs a wasted pick?
Throughout the offseason, I’ll be answering reader questions in a weekly mailbag here at PackersNews.com. If you’d like to submit a question in the future, just email me email@example.com.
Hello from Indianapolis, where the NFL world has converged for the annual scouting combine and I have consumed an irresponsible amount of Steak 'n Shake.
On to your questions.
From Trent Stutzman:
I've been wondering what the plan is for Jason Spriggs ever since he was drafted last April. I thought at first it meant Ted Thompson was going to let David Bakhtiari walk in free agency this year and then let Spriggs take over at left tackle as a sophomore, but obviously that didn't happen. He won't be starting at right tackle either, with Bryan Bulaga still having three more years on his deal. We might have an opening at guard, but he doesn't seem well suited to play there. Thompson must like him a lot since he traded up to get him, so is he really just going to be a backup tackle for the entire duration of his rookie deal?
Great question, Trent, and you’re right that Spriggs is not a real fit at guard. What he is is valuable insurance at a position that is too important to leave to journeymen linemen who can’t get the job done in Mike McCarthy’s scheme.
Remember, when Spriggs was drafted the Packers were coming off a season that saw their offense fall apart when Bakhtiari and Bulaga went down with injuries at various times. The sight of Don Barclay trying to block speed off the edge in Arizona undoubtedly helped drive Thompson’s decision to jump up and grab Spriggs.
While he wasn’t called on much at tackle in 2016, you can bet he’ll be needed at some point going forward. I get that fans may think using a second-round pick was overkill, but given that tackles in McCarthy’s offense rarely get help, Thompson needed to ensure he got a guy he thought could handle that spot. Thompson often talks about draft picks being long-term investments. Even if Spriggs doesn't end up being a starter the next few seasons, his selection is a perfect example of that philosophy.
From Doc Sampica:
I really believe that Jeff Janis should consider a move to cornerback. He has size, speed, and he can tackle. It doesn’t look like he will ever be a main target receiver. I wish someone would ask Jeff to see what he thinks. What do you think?
Sorry, Doc. I don’t see it.
I understand the temptation, especially after watching multiple Packers corners get burned repeatedly throughout the season. Why not do something out-of-the-box?
But Janis is a straight-line guy without a lot of wiggle. While he certainly is fast, he’s not the type of sudden athlete you want at the corner position, able to change direction on a dime when trying to lock down wide receivers.
Janis is a valuable asset on special teams and good to have around as a backup in case guys in front of him in the receiving corps go down. And if, as I suspect will be the case, that’s all he ever is? There’s nothing wrong with that.
From Steve Meie:
I have seen your analysis of what Ted Thompson will do in free agency and your analysis makes a lot of sense. Should I be concerned? LOL
No, Steve, no need for concern. For all the hand-wringing that goes on this time of year, Thompson is still one of the best in the business. He undoubtedly will field a contender again in 2017. Will he do enough to “get them over the top”?
I truly don’t think Ted thinks like that. He has a set of core beliefs that he’s going to stick with, no matter what. For all the grief I give Ted, I very much admire that about him.