INDIANAPOLIS – With Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang entering their final season under contract, the Green Bay Packers might enter this draft searching for an offensive lineman they can groom into a starter.
Historically under general manager Ted Thompson, the Packers tend to draft collegiate left tackles and move them to other positions. Left tackle David Bakhtiari, right tackle Bryan Bulaga and right guard T.J. Lang played left tackle in college. So, too, did top backups J.C. Tretter and Don Barclay.
That makes Missouri’s Connor McGovern an interesting possibility in the third or fourth round.
McGovern started 40 games, moving from center as a freshman to right guard as a sophomore to right tackle as a junior to left tackle as a senior.
“I think it helped,” McGovern said of playing left tackle. “It shows that I’m versatile. I know I’m not the world’s best left tackle but I can play it. If a team needs me to finish a game or play one game at left tackle, I can do it. It’s not my preferred position but I feel confident that I can play that position.
“I feel more comfortable,” he continued, “at guard and center in the NFL. If a team needs a tackle, I’ll play tackle.”
Along with versatility, McGovern’s strength is his strength. McGovern is from Fargo, N.D. His father is a bodybuilder. His father’s love of strength training rubbed off on McGovern at an early age.
“He’d say, ‘I bet you can’t do five push-ups.’ So, it started with that,” he said. “I played sports growing up, whether it was riding dirt bikes or whatever, so I was really active as a young kid. I was huge for my age but I was still very active.”
When he was in sixth grade, he started lifting weights. When he was in eighth grade, he won the first of “quite a few big muscle-men trophies” that are displayed in his bedroom.
“I always thought weightlifting was cool because my dad did it,” he said. “All the superheroes looked all muscular, so I wanted to get in the weight room as soon as I could. I’ve been on the weights for a long time and I love it.”
With that weight-room bond, McGovern was always quick to share his lifting accomplishments with his father. In June, he squatted 690 pounds a school-record five times.
“I think that’s a huge part of my game and it’s helped me a lot,” he said, “is the knowledge my dad’s put on me in the weight room, what he’s helped with in the weight room and the work ethic that he’s instilled in me is definitely a huge part of why I’m here.”
This is a big week for McGovern, who sustained a hamstring injury during the first day of Senior Bowl practice when he slipped and did the splits, with a “big old Clemson boy” falling on top of him. That prevented him from spending the week at guard and center – where he believes he ultimately fits in the NFL.
“I heard a little pop and it was like, ‘You’re fine, you’re fine,’” he said. “I stood up, took two steps and I had the adrenaline and stuff was going. That third step, my hamstring felt like it got half as long and I was like, ‘No, not going to risk getting hurt worse.’ I want to perform my best so if I’m nicked up, I’m not going to show 50 percent of what I can do.”
McGovern said he’s 100 percent now and intends to go through the entire Scouting Combine workout. That includes the 225-pound bench press, with a goal of putting up 40 reps on Thursday. The best mark among offensive linemen last season was Ereck Flowers’ 37 reps.
McGovern knows all about the Packers’ offensive line. The Dallas and Green Bay lines are his favorites to watch.
“They’re just the classic offensive line,” he said. “I think every offensive lineman thinks Green Bay is cool. They have so much tradition and they have a good offensive line just about every year.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.