Grading Thompson on the Offensive Line

After struggling to find quality lineman in his first three drafts, Packers general manager Ted Thompson has built a stellar unit with a minimal amount of resources over the past six drafts. (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY)

This will be Ted Thompson’s 11th draft atop the Green Bay Packers, meaning there’s a decade’s worth of history to examine as this year’s draft approaches. We are taking a position-by-position lookback to see where he and his scouting department have turned up gems and where they have turned up fool’s gold.

Offensive tackles

2006, 5th round — Tony Moll, Nevada (6-4, 300): Moll started 22 games in six NFL seasons (three years with Green Bay), including 10 at right guard and right tackle as a rookie. Moll, a collegiate tight end and left tackle, was the 29th of 49 linemen selected and ranked 27th in starts in that group. Grade: C.

2007, 4th round — Allen Barbre, Missouri Southern St. (6-4. 300): Look up the term “Workout Warrior” in the dictionary and you’ll find Barbre. At the 2007 Scouting Combine, he ran his 40 in 4.88 seconds. That performance helped him be the 16th of 40 linemen selected. Barbre, a left tackle in college, finally got his chance to start in 2009 but was beaten like a drum at right tackle, where he started seven games until Mark Tauscher came to the rescue. He’s actually carved out a decent career, though. Barbre signed a three-year extension with the Eagles following the 2013 season and started the 2014 opener at right tackle but sustained a season-ending ankle injury. Grade: F.

2008, 5th round — Breno Giacomini, Louisville (6-7, 303): Giacomini, a college right tackle, played in all of one game for the Packers in 2008 and 2009. Seattle grabbed him off of Green Bay’s practice squad early in 2010 and wound up starting eight games in 2011, all 16 in 2012 and the first nine in 2013 before an injury. He parlayed that into a four-year, $18 million deal with the Jets last offseason. He was the 23rd of 40 linemen selected and ranks 15th with 49 starts. The Packers could have had Manitowoc, Wis., native Doug Free, who went three picks later and has 82 career starts, or Jermon Bushrod, who went six picks later and has 92 career starts. Grade: F.

2009, 5th round — Jamon Meredith, South Carolina (6-5, 304): Meredith, a college left tackle, was the 27th of 41 linemen selected and is tied for 19th with 27 career starts. None of those came during his two stints with the Packers, though. He was released at the end of his rookie training camp and taken off the practice squad by Buffalo. He’s started games with the Bills, Buccaneers and Titans. Grade: F.

2010, 1st round — Bryan Bulaga, Iowa (6-5, 314): Bulaga, the 23rd overall pick, was the first first-round lineman selected by Thompson. Bulaga was the sixth of 38 linemen selected but, due to injuries, ranks 13th with 48 career starts. Finally healthy in 2014 after missing the past season-and-a-half, Bulaga had a Pro Bowl-caliber season with 4.5 sacks allowed in 15 starts, according to STATS. He signed a five-year contract this offseason to stay with the club through 2019. Grade: B.

2010, 5th round — Marshall Newhouse, TCU (6-4, 319): Say what you want about Newhouse, but he was a steal as the 27th lineman selected and pick No. 169 overall. Of the final 182 picks in this draft, only one offensive tackle boasts more than Newhouse’s 36 career starts. He spent last year with the Bengals and recently joined the Giants. Grade: B.

2011, 1st round — Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State (6-5, 321): Sherrod was the eighth of 36 linemen drafted but made just one start — last year, when Bulaga missed the Jets game with a knee injury. His career, of course, was doomed by a broken leg sustained at Kansas City as a rookie. Grade: F.

2012, 7th round — Andrew Datko, Florida State (6-6, 315): Datko, after an injury-plagued career at Florida State, was the 36th of 37 linemen selected but never played a down. He spent 2012 on the practice squad and failed to make the team in 2013. Seven picks later, the Steelers got a steal with SMU offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum. Grade: F.

2013, 4th round — David Bakhtiari, Colorado (6-4, 299): Bakhtiari is the steal of steals. While the overwhelming majority of starting left tackles were harvested in the first round, Green Bay got Bakhtiari in the fourth. He was the 17th of 34 linemen selected but one of just three to start all 32 career games. According to STATS, he wasn’t much better in 2014 (seven sacks and six holding among his eight penalties) than he was in 2013 (7.5 sacks and six holding among his eight penalties), but he was much better in the run game and is a clear building block on an excellent offensive line. Grade: A.

Offensive guards

2005, 7th round — Will Whitticker, Michigan State (6-5, 336): Whitticker was the 48th of 49 linemen selected. He started 14 games as a rookie under then-coach Mike Sherman. When the Packers hired Mike McCarthy and went to a zone-blocking scheme, Whitticker was out. He didn’t play in 2006 and was with Washington in 2007, when he was hurt in training camp and released, never to surface in the league again. Grade: D.

2006, 2nd round — Daryn Colledge, Boise State (6-4, 299): Colledge, a collegiate left tackle, wound up finding his niche at left guard and the unit’s jack-of-all-trades when injuries struck, as he also started at right tackle and left tackle due to injuries. His versatility might have been a sin as he never developed into more than an average player. Colledge spent his first five seasons in Green Bay, starting all but four games during that span. He was the sixth of 49 linemen selected and ranks fourth among that group with 137 starts. Grade: C-plus.

2006, 3rd round — Jason Spitz, Louisville (6-4, 313): Spitz was the 15th lineman selected but ranks 22nd with 45 career starts in eight seasons. All of his starts came during his five seasons in Green Bay, with 41 of those starts in his first three seasons. Grade: C-minus.

2008, 4th round — Josh Sitton, Central Florida (6-4, 319): Sitton was the seventh linemen selected by Thompson and his first real success. Sitton, a collegiate right tackle who was not picked for the Scouting Combine, was the 22nd of 40 linemen selected and ranks fifth with 96 starts, fourth with two Pro Bowls and tied for second with one All-Pro. Simply, he’s one of the best guards in the NFL. He didn’t allow a sack in 2014 and has yielded 9.5 in his six seasons as a starter. Grade: A.

2009, 4th round — T.J. Lang, Eastern Michigan (6-4, 316): After playing left guard and some right tackle in 2011 and 2012, Lang has settled in at right guard to pair with Sitton to form perhaps the best guard tandem in the league. Lang, a two-year starting left tackle at EMU, was the 18th of 41 linemen selected and ranks 11th with 66 starts. He has started all but one game the past four seasons and yielded a career-low two sacks in 2014. Grade: A.

2011, 6th round — Caleb Schlauderaff, Utah (6-4, 305): After an undistinguished rookie training camp, Schlauderaff was traded to the Jets for a couple of bagels. He started one game for New York and was released at the end of training camp last summer. A dozen picks after Green Bay grabbed Schlauderaff, the Eagles found a starting center, Jason Kelce. Grade: F.


2005, 5th round — Junius Coston, North Carolina A&T (6-3, 310): Coston was the 26th of 49 linemen selected. A two-year starting center in college, Coston started seven games at right guard in place of Jason Spitz in 2007 and had a cup of coffee with the Raiders and Lions the next two seasons. Chris Myers (128 starts), Geoff Hangartner (85), Chris Kemoeatu (53) are 50-game starters taken in the sixth round, and Will Svitek (21) and Joe Berger (38) were sixth-rounders who remain in the league. Grade: D-plus. Grade: D.

2013, 4th round — J.C. Tretter, Cornell (6-4, 307): Tretter, a tight end and left tackle in college, missed his rookie season but was on course to be the starting center in 2014 before he was injured again. He’s played in eight games in two seasons but will have a chance to be a utility man in 2015. Tretter was the 21st of 34 linemen selected. Of that group, 25 have started at least one game, a group that includes Tramon Williams’ cousin, Jordan Mills (29 starts) and Wisconsin’s Ricky Wagner (17 starts), both of whom were selected at the end of the fifth round.

2014, 5th round — Corey Linsley, Ohio State (6-3, 296): Tretter’s loss was Linsley’s gain. Linsley was the 22nd of 26 linemen selected last year and one of only seven to start all 16 games. Of the six players considered centers who were drafted, Linsley was the fifth off the board and one of two to start every game. He had a tremendous rookie season (one sack and three holds among his four penalties) and figures to be an anchor of the offensive line for years to come.

Overall grade: Through Thompson’s first three drafts, what grade would you give the group of Coston and Whitticker (2005), Colledge, Spitz and Moll (2006) and Barbre (2007)? Probably a D-minus? But Thompson has built a starting offensive line in the past seven drafts with Sitton (2008), Lang (2009), Bulaga (2010), Bakhtiari (2013) and Linsley (2014) with the low-budget cost of one first-round pick, three fourth-rounders and one fifth-rounder. That’s incredible value for one of the two or three best lines in the game. Grade: B.

What it means (if anything) for 2015: The Packers, like many teams, prefer drafting collegiate left tackles and moving them inside. Of Green Bay’s five starters, Lang, Bulaga and Bakhtiari were left tackles, Sitton was a right tackle and Linsley was a center. Of the 18 linemen drafted by Thompson, eight of the nine tackles played left tackle, two of the six guards played left tackle and one of the three centers played left tackle, making it 11 of 18. That makes guys like Arizona State’s Jamil Douglad, Syracuse’s Sean Hickey, San Diego State’s Terry Poole and Missouri’s Mitch Morse four players to watch. Thompson has drafted at least one offensive lineman in every draft, including a tackle in each season from 2006 through 2013.

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

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