When Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson decided to part ways with All-Pro guard Josh Sitton, at least he had Lane Taylor on the roster.
Thompson has no such fallback plan after letting Pro Bowl guard T.J. Lang sign with rival Detroit. Is Jason Spriggs — a tackle by trade — really a viable option? Don Barclay struggled in 23 career starts at offensive tackle; how would he fare if forced to start 16 games at guard?
With those uncertainties, Thompson almost certainly will be forced to draft a guard. Here are the top six prospects, according to NFL Scouting’s Dave-Te’ Thomas and an AFC scout. There is a big drop-off after the top four.
Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky (6-4, 309): Lamp was a four-year starter who earned first-team all-Conference USA as a junior and senior. All but three of his 56 starts came at left tackle. Lamp was a second-team All-American as a senior, a season highlighted by allowing only one pressure against Alabama. Pro Football Focus graded him as the top pass-protecting offensive tackle in this draft after allowing zero sacks, three quarterback hits and two hurries for a total of five pressures. He’s equal parts power (34 reps on the 225-pounch bench press) and athleticism (5.00 in the 40).
However, 32 1/4-inch arms likely will force a move to guard. The Packers favor drafting left tackles. Lang, for instance, was a two-year starting left tackle at Eastern Michigan. Of Green Bay’s nine offensive linemen last year, seven played left tackle in college (starters Lang, David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga; backups J.C. Tretter, Spriggs, Barclay and Kyle Murphy). The exceptions were center Corey Linsley and right guard Taylor. If the Packers want him, they’ll have to cross their fingers that he falls to No. 29 in the first round.
Dorian Johnson, Pittsburgh (6-5, 300): Johnson became Pitt’s first first-team All-American offensive lineman since Ruben Brown in 1994. Johnson broke into the starting lineup late during his freshman season and concluded his career with 40 consecutive starts. He was a three-year starter at left guard, with second-team all-ACC honors as a junior and first-team accolades as a senior, when he finished third for the ACC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which goes to the league’s top lineman. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed one sack and six hurries for a total of seven pressures. How? Athleticism (5.27 in the 40 but the best vertical jump and broad jump among the linemen) and length (35 1/4-inch arms). He’d be the clear-cut No. 2 guard if not for putting up just 21 reps on the bench. Johnson is a natural zone-scheme guard.
Dan Feeney, Indiana (6-4, 305): Feeney was a four-year award-winning guard, punctuated by first-team All-American honors as a junior and senior. According to the school’s coaches, he allowed two sacks in four seasons. PFF charged Feeney with one sack, one hit and eight hurries for a total of 10 pressures. He started at right guard in 2012, 2014 and 2015 — a foot injury sidelined him in 2013 — before splitting time at right guard and right tackle as a senior. Feeney is just the fourth two-time All-American in program history. As is the case with Johnson, Feeney is an excellent fit in a zone scheme. He’s got 33 3/8-inch arms and a nice blend of athleticism (5.24 in the 40) and strength (26 reps on the bench).
Dion Dawkins, Temple (6-4, 314): Dawkins, who originally was headed to Cincinnati to play on the defensive line, started two games at tackle as a true freshman in 2013 before suffering a broken foot. He wound up starting at left tackle in each of the next three seasons, earning first-team all-conference as a senior and second-team honors as a junior. As a senior, he finished as the fourth-best pass-protecting tackle, with two sacks, two hits and five hurries for a total of nine pressures. As an added bonus, Dawkins played in more of a traditional offense at Temple, meaning he won’t have to be taught how to line up in a three-point stance. He’s got tackle-like arms — 35 inches — and ample athleticism, too, with a 5.11 in the 40. Dawkins put up 26 reps on the bench.
Nico Siragusa, San Diego State (6-4, 319): Siragusa was a three-year starter at guard who was first-team all-Mountain West as a junior and senior. Siragusa helped power Donnel Pumphrey to the all-time FBS rushing record. He excelled in pass protection, too, with quick feet for his size and 33 1/2-inch arms. According to Pro Football Focus, he gave up only one sack, no hits and two hurries for a total of three pressures. While Siragusa ran a plodding 5.35 in the 40, which was among the slowest of the linemen, his 32-inch vertical and clocking in the 20-yard shuttle were the best among the blockers. He put up 28 reps on the bench.
Isaac Asiata, Utah (6-3, 323): Asiata won the Morris Trophy as the Pac-12’s top offensive lineman as a senior, as voted on by his peers, even though he was only second-team all-conference. He is a better run blocker than pass protector, which could be problematic for what Green Bay does offensively. According to PFF, Asiata gave up four sacks, two hits and nine hurries for a total of 15 pressures. Asiata started 42 games in his four seasons, with 25 at left guard as a junior and senior, seven at right guard and six at left guard as a sophomore, and four at right tackle as a freshman. Asiata showed his power with 35 reps on the bench at the Scouting Combine. That’s a big number; making it more impressive is that he pushed up that weight with 33 3/4-inch arms. However, his 5.34 in the 40 spoke to his lack of athleticism.
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.