With T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton entering their final season under contract, the Green Bay Packers might have to consider drafting an insurance policy at guard.
This is no secret: The Packers historically have taken offensive tackles and moved them inside. Of the tackles-becoming-guards prospects, three of the better ones failed to distinguish themselves at the Scouting Combine.
— Kansas State’s Cody Whitehair, who started at right tackle as a freshman and left guard as a sophomore before spending his final two seasons at left tackle, put up just 16 reps on the 225-pound bench press. Only one offensive lineman did worse.
— LSU’s Vadal Alexander, who started at guard as a sophomore and junior before earning All-America accolades at right tackle as a senior, ran his 40-yard dash in a plodding 5.57 seconds. That was the second-slowest of the offensive linemen.
— Arkansas Denver Kirkland, who started at guard as a freshman and sophomore before moving to left tackle as a junior in 2015, ran his 40 in 5.55 seconds and put up 19 reps on the bench.
Whitehair (6-3 3/4, 301 pounds) played in a zone-blocking scheme at Kansas State. Beyond that, he personifies what the Packers look for in their offensive linemen. Of Green Bay’s five starters and top two backups, left tackle David Bakhtiari, right guard T.J. Lang, right tackle Bryan Bulaga and reserves J.C. Tretter and Don Barclay played left tackle in college. Sitton played right tackle in college.
Whitehair knew he was playing out of position during his two seasons at left tackle. That didn’t prevent him from being a first-team all-Big 12 selection as a senior.
“Being able to play both positions I think will help me down the road,” Whitehair said at the Combine. “It’s made me a better player as far as knowing defenses, seeing the field, really having a better awareness. I think that will carry over to the next level.”
Whitehair moved back to guard at the Senior Bowl and made the game’s “starting five” put together by Phil Savage, the all-star game’s executive director and a former NFL general manager. Savage called Whitehair a “natural football player” who should enjoy a long career.
Whitehair believes he can be a first-year starter because of his toughness and consistency. His bench press puts that into question, though. Of course, if he were to last until late in the second year and land in Green Bay, he’d have a year to improve his strength.
“His tape is really good,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said on Saturday. “The fact that he didn’t have the strength in the bench bothers me a little bit, but he’s a smart, tough kid that could play guard.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.