Getting to Know: Tommie Draheim

A standout left tackle at San Diego State, Tommie Draheim hopes to be Green Bay's much-needed center of the future. If Draheim eventually takes over at center, he'd follow the same path blazed by Jeff Saturday.

In Part 7 of Know Your Undrafted Free Agents, we introduce you to ....

Name: Tommie Draheim.

College: San Diego State.

Position: Center.

Height/weight: 6-foot-4, 309 pounds.

40 time: 5.05.

Scout Dave-Te' Thomas' grade: 4.7.

Career highlights: As a senior, Draheim became the first Aztecs offensive lineman to be named first-team all-conference since Brendan Darby in 2003. Draheim, who closed his career with 30 consecutive starts at left tackle, helped SDSU rank 10th in the country in fewest sacks allowed (0.83 per game) and tied for 15th in fewest tackles for losses allowed (4.42). He helped Ryan Lindley become the school's all-time leading passer and running back Ronnie Hillman finish third nationally in rushing.


The Green Bay Packers didn't draft a center.

With free-agent addition Jeff Saturday to turn 37 on June 18, the Packers are counting on offensive line coach James Campen's ability to groom one of his young prospects.

To that mix, the Packers added Tommie Draheim, whose $8,500 signing bonus was the most given to any of the team's undrafted free agents.

Draheim knows the history of the position. Saturday not only entered the league as an undrafted rookie in 1998, but he failed to even get to training camp with Baltimore and spent his first year out of football before hooking up with Indianapolis in 1999. The man Saturday is replacing in Green Bay, Scott Wells, was the fifth-to-last player selected in the 2004 draft.

"Absolutely. It's possible to go practice squad for a year or two," Draheim said. "We've got Jeff Saturday here, so we have a terrific player here to learn from. I'll just be sitting and learning as much as I can from him. If I'm good enough to make the squad, I'm good enough to make the squad. If not, I'll sit on the practice squad and pay my dues a little bit and earn my spot."

Draheim played left tackle at San Diego State but said he has "center skills in my back pocket." Draheim was an all-state center and four-year starter at that position at El Capitan (Calif.) High School. He was recruited to play center by former coach Chuck Long but redshirted in 2007 and did not play in 2008 (shoulder). He broke into the starting lineup under then-coach Brady Hoke in 2009 and blossomed into a first-team all-Mountain West selection under coach Rocky Long in 2011.

Under coach Mike McCarthy, the Packers have a long history of moving collegiate left tackles to other positions. Of the linemen on the Packers' active roster at the end of last season, only Wells and Josh Sitton didn't play left tackle in college.

Being athletic helps at center, but intelligence is a necessity. A quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, who orchestrates much of the game at the line of scrimmage, would be limited if his center can't organize the blocking up front and make last-second adjustments in time with the quarterback.

"I always thought I was an intelligent player," said Draheim, who was working toward his master's degree in educational leadership. "I didn't have any busted plays or missed assignments last year, so that's something that I can take with me here and work on it and get all the center calls."

Draheim, who wasn't invited to the Scouting Combine, put up 22 reps on the bench press at San Diego State's pro day. Strength, he said, is an issue that he's been addressing. That will be a necessity to win a roster spot against veteran Evan Dietrich-Smith and Sampson Genus, an undrafted free agent in 2011 who spent the year on the practice squad.

"I feel like I've gotten a lot stronger and I've put on a lot of good body weight," he said. "I'm not 295 (like he played in college); I weighed in at 311 the other day. I was lighter, a little trimmer but I still feel I'm just as athletic and a lot stronger. ... It's just staying after it because I know that's a focal point that I need to continue to work on here."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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