According to Hobbes: Packers Offseason Primer on the NFL Combine: Offensive Interior Linemen

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Offensive Interior Linemen: Here’s the sixth of a series of articles and final for the offense, looking specifically at the NFL combine and the Packers’ drafting tendencies. (read here for the rationale for this serieshere for quarterbackshere for running backs, here for wide receivershere for tight ends and here for offensive tackles).  This article will use the combine numbers from previous players drafted by GM Ted Thompson as a guide for what offensive interior linemen are likely to fit into the Packers’ scheme.

Again, this is merely an attempt to make a best guess based on statistics at which players the Packers might be interested in, game tape naturally trumps combine numbers, so take all of this with a grain of salt.  But I believe it will make for some interesting discussion.  Also listed below are also two offensive interior linemen in this year’s draft who I think fit the Packers scheme the best, based on their combine numbers.

Statistics of offensive interior linemen drafted by the Packers:

Name Height Weight 40-Yard 3-Cone Shuttle Vertical Broad Bench
Junius Coston 6’3” 317.00 5.31 7.93 4.64 29.50 102.00 21.00
Will Whitticker 6’5” 338.00 5.35 7.90 4.75 29.50 97.00 29.00
Daryn Colledge 6’4” 300.00 5.05 7.46 4.60 32.50 110.00 21.00
Jason Spitz 6’4” 310.00 5.40 7.82 4.56 28.50 102.00 25.00
Tony Moll 6’4” 285.00 18.00
Josh Sitton 6’4” 320.00 5.30 7.55 4.50 29.00 108.00 28.00
Marshall Newhouse 6’3” 319.00 5.00 7.40 4.60 25.00 97.00 25.00
Average 6’4” 312.71 5.24 7.68 4.61 29.00 102.67 23.86
StDev 0.69 16.77 0.17 0.23 0.08 2.41 5.43 4.02

What the Packers are looking for: Offensive interior are considered incredibly safe picks, perhaps even more than offensive tackles; offensive linemen are the most likely to start as rookies of any position and probably command the cheapest contracts of any 1st round pick.  I’ve decided to combine offensive guards and centers together since it seems like many of the players that the Packers use have the ability to play any one of three positions.

Thompson has never traditionally been very high on interior offensive linemen, the average draft pick for an offensive interior linemen is in the middle of the 4th round, and it always seems as if a undrafted rookie free agent offensive interior linemen sneaks onto the active roster, with Evan Detrich-Smith getting in last year and Nick McDonald getting in this year (both who were developmental guard-centers that the Packers think highly of).

The highest draft pick in the group is Daryn Colledge, but he was a tackle at Boise State, so it is possible that the Packers drafted him as on offensive tackle and shifted him to guard later.  While Colledge always seemed to sneak into the starting lineup, its highly likely that he’s on his way out and its possible that either Marshall Newhouse or TJ Lang could replace him.  As for the rest of the offensive interior linemen, really none have stood out other than Josh Sitton, who is a young pro-bowl caliber guard.  Junius Coston had a unspectacular career with the Packers, Jason Spitz was a starter at one point but lost his spot to Scott Wells and probably won’t be back next year either, Will Whitticker only lasted one season and Tony Moll was graded as the worst offensive linemen at one point in the entire NFL.

The drills that offensive interior linemen have the lowest relative standard deviation (thus implying highest importance) are height and shuttle.  In terms of height, most of the offensive interior linemen mirror their offensive tackle counterparts, this might have to do with the fact that the Packers like versatility on the line, with guards being backup tackles (such as with Daryn Colledge) and tackles potentially playing guard (such as with TJ Lang and Bryan Bulaga during the offseason).

The importance of the shuttle drill makes sense since it measures a players lateral ability and offensive interior linemen often must slide in one direction to take on an incoming defender or when they are asked to lead block on sweep plays.  While not entirely relevant today, the Packers are well known for the Packers Sweep (the play made famous from the Lombardi clip “What we’re looking for is a seal here, and a seal here, and to run it … up the alley”) and the Packers do use a zone blocking scheme most of the time, which requires its linemen to be agile at the expense of strength. Furthermore, offensive interior linemen don’t really run vertically down the field all that often (at least not for anything other than a couple of yards) hence 40 yard dash times run by offensive interior linemen are the slowest on average with the highest deviance of all positions.

As for specific skills, the Packers again prefer their offensive interior linemen to be better pass blockers than run blockers, and offensive interior linemen must be nimble enough to take on stunts and twists, and occasionally take on defenders not in their immediate areas.

Comparable offensive tackles in the 2011 draft (analysis taken from NFL.com):

Justin Boren Ohio State/6’3”/309 lbs/5.4 40-yard dash/ 4.75 shuttle

  • Strong and violent hands
  • Has a good mean streak
  • Good combination of speed and strength

Cons:

  • Character concerns (Sort of)
  • Not very athletic
  • Has trouble with faster defensive tackles

Stephen Schilling Michigan/6’4”/308 lbs/4.62 40-yard dash/8’10” shuttle:

Pros:

  • Very good pass blocker
  • Good in the zone blocking scheme
  • Good football IQ

Cons:

  • Lacks bulk
  • Lacking in run blocking
  • Injury prone

Conclusion: of the offensive interior linemen, starter Daryn Colledge is likely to leave via free agency (if it exists), not only because he was unhappy with his tender last year, but also because he was probably the weakest link on the offensive line.  Whether or not his replacement is already on the team in either Marshall Newhouse or TJ Lang, depth is going to be an issue as Jason Spitz is likely to not be retained and Nick McDonald/Evan Detrich-Smith are both raw and inexperienced.

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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  • Taryn

    I would venture three OL guys being drafted this year.

    First would be an OT of James Carpenter,though this is a G/C topic he may well be used or pushed inside at a time.Round 2

    Second would be Bryon Stingily of Arizona ST listed as OT but will be G in NFL.Round 4

    Third would be Zach Hurd of Conn.Round 5/6

    These are IMO of coarse.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Taryn, based on the names you keep throwing out, i could swear you’ve hacked into my notes for the CheeseheadTV draft guide… haha.

      • Taryn

        Sorry Al,that is impossible as my computer skills are very limited.LOL
        If we are thinking alike,I can only feel complimented by your acknowledging the research path I have taken and my conclusions.
        Thank You

      • Taryn

        For the heck of it AL,a few others I’m high on;
        Lawrence Guy DT,Ari ST
        Ryan Jones CB,N.W.Missouri ST
        Stephen Burton WR,West Texas A&M
        Ricardo Lockette WR,FT Valley ST
        Lester Jean WR,Fla-ATL

        • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

          One of them is in my mock draft…

          • Taryn

            I can’t wait to find out who it is but, I will and hope others have as much anticipation.

            • Taryn

              Just noticed my error,Stingily is from Louisville not Ari ST,Sorry

    • Thomas Hobbes

      drafting 3 players all in the same position is highly unusual, but stranger things have happened. I would have to think that if Thompson is truly going by BPA the chances of 3 offensive interior linemen (going on your assumption that Carpenter is a interior linemen) being at the top of the board is quite slim. But hey, stranger things have happened.

  • JeffN

    I have not done much research on specific players for this years draft, but I would like to see O-Line be drafted high. The impact of loosing Rodgers for a season would mean no chance of winning a SuperBowl if we didn’t have him. Flynn could win a us a few games during the season but he couldn’t make the playoff/Superbowl run that Rodgers is capable of. Protecting Rodgers and improving run blocking has to be the top priority if we are to keep Rodgers away from concussions.

    • Taryn

      The OL is very important to Rodgers health but injury may not be the fault of the OL per se,as Rodgers needs to SLIDE.As for Flynn winning a few games,I recall the Bears going to the SB with ORTON.That team is no where near as whole as ours and Flynn though not Rodgers,would be formidable on the field if need be.I wouldn’t under estimate him so much.IMO

      • Taryn

        Sorry,I mean GROSS-man.Geez.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          The bears were probably an anomaly in this day and age; I can’t think of a team other than the Bears to get to the superbowl without a good quarterback in the last 5 years. Many have attributed it to the Bears having maybe the best defense in that time frame, but I also think that they had to have gotten lucky as well.

      • JeffN

        The offense that Orton/Grossman rode to the SuperBowl on was not built around them, it was built around a running game. The Pack doesn’t have the heavy horse running game the Bears had back then to carry them. Although one could make arguement that our defense is that good. McCarthy gave Rodgers the ball and said here go win the game. Flynn isn’t to that level yet. Not saying he will never get there but I would rather count on Rodgers for this Offense to be centered around and I would just feel better with a better O-line… that’s all

    • Thomas Hobbes

      My opinion is that run blocking will always be a secondary priority, because the offense is most dangerous when it runs through Rodgers and the league is about passing. If I were the Packers I would take a great pass blocker who is a terrible run blocker

  • Sam

    Thoughts on Marcus Cannon??

  • Thomas Hobbes

    Well my feeling is that Cannon wouldn’t be drafted as a tackle, he’s about 50 pounds heavier than what they currently like to draft (Clifton and Tauscher are about 320-330 so I would assume that’s about the limit). As for a guard, again he is quite big, but that might be an advantage especially if his quickness is true. I guess they could always ask Newhouse what kind of player he is (well they could if they could talk to him).