Packers Could Seek Second Helpings at LT

The Packers were lucky to have gotten a longtime starter at left tackle in the second round of the 2000 draft. Might history repeat itself in the second round of the 2010 draft? We have more exclusive Scouting Combine scoop right here!

It seems like a lifetime ago when the Packers drafted Chad Clifton.

Rather, it was a decade ago when Green Bay used its second-round pick to nab Clifton at No. 44 overall. It was a brilliant move by then-general manager Ron Wolf, who passed on bust Stockar McDougle and injured Chris McIntosh in the first round and went with Clifton instead of Adrian Klemm or Todd Wade in the second.

The Packers enter the 2010 draft needing to finally find the heir apparent for Clifton at left tackle. Might history repeat itself?

In 2000, they went with Clifton, who had started 43 games at Tennessee — including his final three seasons at left tackle. If the Packers aren't enamored with the first-round tackle prospects on the board at No. 23, one second-round prospect is Indiana's Rodger Saffold, who started 41 games at Indiana — all at left tackle.

The Packers had a formal interview with Saffold at the Scouting Combine, sources told Packer Report and Scout.com's Ed Thompson.

Saffold took over the all-important left tackle position midway through his freshman season.

"The Big Ten had some ridiculous pass rushers that year," he said in a question-and-answer piece for IMG Performance Institute, where he's been working out to get ready for the draft. "I was 18 and they were 22- or 23-year-old grown men. I told my quarterback, ‘I've got your back, but you better be fast just in case.' It helped me because I learned more about technique, then I just kept adding size and strength."

Now, Saffold is a 6-foot-4, 316-pound prospect. While there are some doubts about his ability to play left tackle, he allowed only one sack as a senior — to the Big Ten's leading sacker, Wisconsin's O'Brien Schofield. He was the most impressive lineman during the week of the East-West all-star game and stood out during positional drills at the Combine.

"You've always got to fight for what you want in life, and in the East-West game, I really wanted to play against competition I never would've faced in the Big Ten," Saffold said at the Scouting Combine. "I was able to do that, I played well, but it wasn't really a confidence boost because you always have to have confidence in yourself.

"I really just enjoy the time that I had down there, and just the experience of learning from the SEC and ACC guys was an experience I had never got to play."

Saffold's been relatively healthy in his college career, except for a spine injury that slowed him in 2008 and was so painful that it "was hard putting on my own shoes." He fought through the injury with the help of a brace and rehab, and ditched the brace for 2009 and says he's "not limited" anymore.

One of Saffold's big influences was Bobby Johnson, the former Hoosiers offensive line coach who recently was named assistant line coach with Chan Galley's new staff with the Buffalo Bills. As Saffold pointed out, when he arrived in Bloomington, Indiana was rated America's No. 1 party school.

"He basically helped me a lot on the field, but he also helped me off the field," Saffold said. "You've gotta be responsible when you're out there by yourself. I've had a lot of talks with him when it was just me and him talking about life. He's been able to help me be a better man myself, and ultimately that helps you on the field. My character definitely changed my freshman year being able to be that loyal guy that was able to help your teammates. Because I was more accountable, I ended up taking more responsibility while I was playing. I continued to work on that through this summer and just being accountable helped me throughout my whole career."


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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 and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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