Offseason Progress Report: Offensive Line

The starting point of one of the NFL's best offensive lines is the guard tandem of Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang. Can David Bakhtiari take a step forward? Can Bryan Bulaga stay healthy? Is there a legit starter at center?

With four weeks of offseason practices behind them, Packer Report is taking a position-by-position look at the Green Bay Packers. We continue with the offensive line.

Depth chart

NO.CENTERSPOSHTWTAGEYEARCOLLEGE
73 Tretter, JC C/G 6-4307 23 2 Cornell
72 Gerhart, Garth C 6-1 310 25 1 Arizona State
63 Linsley, Corey C 6-3 301 22 R Ohio State
NO.GUARDSPOSHTWTAGEYEARCOLLEGE
70 Lang, T.J. G 6-4 318 26 6 Eastern Michigan
71 Sitton, Josh G 6-3 318 28 7 Central Florida
65 Taylor, Lane G 6-3 324 24 2 Oklahoma State
68 Tiller, Andrew G 6-4 324 25 2 Syracuse
62 McCray, Jordan G 6-3 322 22 R Central Florida
NO.TACKLESPOSHTWTAGEYEARCOLLEGE
69 Bakhtiari, David T 6-4 300 22 2 Colorado
75 Bulaga, Bryan T 6-5 314 25 5 Iowa
67 Barclay, Don T/G 6-4 305 25 3 West Virginia
78 Sherrod, Derek T 6-6 321 25 4 Mississippi State
77 Adams, Aaron T 6-5 303 25 1 Eastern Kentucky
60 Vujnovich, Jeremy T 6-5 300 23 1 Louisiana College
79 Fullington, John T 6-5 300 23 R Washington State

The answer

Eddie Lacy obviously provided a dramatic upgrade to the running game. But don't overlook the role the offensive line played in the Packers boasting their best rushing attack since 2003. FootballOutsiders.com ranked Green Bay's line as the fifth-best run-blocking unit in the league.

Even though the Packers gave up 45 sacks, the ninth-highest figure in the league, ProFootballFocus.com charged only 28 of them to the offensive line. Based on sacks, quarterback hits and hurries per pass attempt, Green Bay's offensive line provided the fourth-best protection in the league.

It starts with arguably the best tandem of guards in the NFL. Based on ProFootballFocus.com's grading, Pro Bowler Josh Sitton was the second-best guard in the league and T.J. Lang ranked 15th. Only Pittsburgh, with the 12th- and 14th-best guards, had both guards ranked in PFF's top 16.

Big things are expected from left tackle David Bakhtiari. Last season, the fourth-round pick was thrown into the fire after Bryan Bulaga -- the centerpiece of last year's offensive line makeover -- tore his ACL on Family Night. He played so well that Bulaga is back at right tackle.

"What's my jump? Just back up my play. Become more consistent. Keep Aaron even cleaner. Just like the little things," Bakhtiari said. "And, of course, everyone's goal is, you want to be the best in this league. You want to be renowned. You want to be a Pro Bowler, all that. I'd be lying if I said that wasn't something I wanted under my accomplishments. But I've got a long way to go to get there. But those are things … I want to work on the little things and become a dominant player and work myself up to one day be a Josh Sitton on the offensive line. That'd be great. I'd love to be as good as him."

The question

From Scott Wells to Jeff Saturday to Evan Dietrich-Smith to .... who, at center?

J.C. Tretter was the No. 1 center throughout the offseason. A fourth-round pick out of Cornell last year, Tretter missed most of his rookie season after breaking an ankle during the first day of organized team activities. It wasn't a lost season, though. Tretter buried his nose in the playbook and improved his upper-body strength. He returned to practice for the final seven weeks of the season, which was invaluable.

"Any time you get on the field and you see looks outside of the iPad and get an actual 3D representation of what you're seeing, it's definitely beneficial," he said. "It's better than looking at a piece of paper and looking at it that way. It helps you see the field and you have to actually turn your head and look. It's not jus, ‘OK, it's right there. OK, there you go.' It's definitely much more helpful to get out there. Even being out there and taking a mental rep. You hear the protections, you see the look and you can kind of make your calls that way."

Fifth-round pick Corey Linsley worked with the third unit throughout the offseason (Garth Gerhart was the second-teamer) but presumably will get a chance during training camp. He's got more center experience than Tretter, having started two seasons at Ohio State. Tretter, on the other hand, has never played center in a game.

At right tackle, Bulaga is back after missing all of 2013 with the ACL and the second half of 2012 with a broken hip. He's played in only 37 of a possible 64 regular-season games in his career. If he can stay healthy, he'll start and make Don Barclay an excellent utilityman.

"He's a hell of a player," Sitton said. "He was a first-round draft pick for a reason. He's a stud. If we can stay healthy as an offensive line, I think this can be the best offensive line we've had in awhile, probably ever since I've been here. So I think we've just got to stay healthy."

Roster prediction

Bakhtiari, Sitton, Tretter, Lang, Bulaga, Barclay, Sherrod and Linsley.


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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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