This week, head coach Mike McCarthy said that the Green Bay Packers did not plan to move Brian Bulaga to guard and also does not plan to turn Jason Spriggs into a guard. This would mean the Packers will go into next season with both tackles returning. Still, this means there does not seem to be a plan for what to do without Pro Bowl guard T.J. Lang. Say what you will, Ted Thompson always has a plan.
Replacing T.J. Lang
It Will Be Spriggs or Bulaga After All
The first option is, of course, that this is just a show. Maybe McCarthy is just trying to say how much he does not want to make a move like this. Every coach in football would love to have a backup tackle good enough to be a starter elsewhere. It is a strange luxury. Spriggs was a four-year starter at Indiana. Still, David Bakhtiari and Brian Bulaga have been solid starting tackles for the last few years.
One thing to remember is the Packers had Don Barclay on the roster last year, but when Lang was out with injury Jason Spriggs was the one thrown into the line up. Barclay only came out if Spriggs could not go.
Bulaga might be the more natural fit at guard. Bulaga is more of a brawler and could be more useful in the run game. On top of this, Spriggs is the more natural tackle and then Kyle Murphy could move right into the role of top backup at the tackle position. This would leave Barclay at the top backup guard. It would leave the Packers free to draft a project player along the line. This is really the most likely scenario. McCarthy would like to add someone to keep the luxury available, but there is a strong player already on the roster.
Someone Left In Free Agency
Maybe there is someone left out there in free agency that could step in. The big names are gone, but the Packers know the sort of players they like and they understand a good price. Getting closer to the Draft, and even after the Draft, there are a few names out there yet who could make a difference.
Jahri Evans is one interesting name. He is older (34) and he would be a stop gap replacement. This would be a right guard with experience. Also, Evans comes in from a pass first offense and that is something the Packers take very seriously. When evaluating offensive linemen, the Packers always judge pass blocking first.
Andrew Tiller has gained some experience starting for the San Francisco 49ers over the last two years. The one problem would be the Niners are a run first style and have been under the last several coaches. No one really showed interest early in free agency, but he is an option that would add experience and give the Packers a serious starter who can step right in on day one.
Go To The Draft
It seems very likely the Packers will draft a guard, but they are not likely to do it in the first round. The defensive needs are going to outweigh the offensive line need. Also, there really are not a lot of guards in this draft that have any reason going in the first round. Forest Lamp will certainly be gone before the Packers pick anyone.
Dion Dawkins is a name the Packers might call in the second round. Gives you what the Packers like. Played a lot of snaps, played left tackle at Temple, but lined up at guard at the Senior Bowl. Versatile and experienced. Small school never bothers Ted Thompson with linemen. Lang went to Eastern Michigan. Josh Sitton went to Central Florida. He can pass block and the run blocking is a nice bonus.
Another name to watch is Taylor Moton from Western Michigan. Also versatile. Played both guard and tackle for the Broncos. Multiple year starter and he was in an offense that liked to pass. He fits the mold for the Packers.
In the end, the Packers are honestly most likely to start Spriggs at guard and draft someone else for depth.