Packers OL Andrew Datko: Training Camp Dark Horse or Off the Team?

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Packers offensive lineman Andrew Datko

We don’t know much about Packers offensive lineman Andrew Datko because he was stashed away on the practice squad all of last season.

What we did know about him after the Packers drafted him in the seventh round in 2012 we’ve probably already forgotten because, well, he was on the practice squad all of last season.

Because the Packers offensive line situation always seems to be in some sort of disrepair, it’s important that we keep any offensive lineman who can walk upright fresh on our mind before training camp battles begin.

Here’s a refresher on Datko so you don’t have to ask yourself “Who is that guy?” should Datko make some noise during camp.

  • At Florida State, Datko started 12 of 13 games as a true freshman at left tackle. Even though he only weighed 260 pounds, he still had 21 knockdown blocks. Talk about starting your college career with a bang.  
  • He started all 13 games his sophomore season and only allowed two sacks. In 11 games as a junior, he only allowed one sack.
  • Things went downhill from there. After starting the first four games of his senior season, Datko hurt his shoulder — the same shoulder he hurt in high school. The injury required surgery in November and Datko couldn’t lift at the NFL combine, causing him to freefall down draft boards and fall right off many of them.
  • Physically, Datko is the type of offensive lineman the Packers like to draft: A successful college left tackle (when healthy) who is athletic, versatile and could theoretically play multiple positions.
  • Datko’s ceiling in 2013 is winning the Packers sixth man job along the offensive line. If he does that, both Datko and the Packers have to be ecstatic. It would mean the 6-foot-6, 315 pounder is healthy and Ted Thompson can breathe a little bit easier if Derek Sherrod is a lost cause.
  • Obviously, Datko’s worst-case scenario is the shoulder acting up again and getting cut.
  • Realistically, look for Datko to be in the mix for the seventh or eighth offensive line slot, probably not the sixth. The sixth-man job likely goes to the loser of the battle to start at right tackle. Datko lined up at guard during OTAs, which also helps his chances of making the team, if healthy.

Here’s a quick rundown of the Packers offensive line situation. In for sure: Bryan Bulaga, Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith, T.J. Lang, Marshall Newhouse. Probably in: David Bakhtiari, Don Barclay, Sherrod (if healthy). Fighting for their lives: Datko, Greg Van Roten, Lane Taylor, whoever the hell they list as a backup center.

There are already eight offensive lineman with a head start on Datko. Another one (Van Roten) is also probably ahead of him.

The odds for Datko don’t look very good, but it’s hard to count out a guy who was so promising before getting hurt.

(Also, do we know where Datko was when J.C. Tretter broke his ankle? Tretter’s injury cleared another obstacle for Datko to make the team. That’s how I view it from atop my grassy knoll, anyway.)

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam\\\'s writing on the Packers here.

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  • aaronqb

    I don’t understand what sixth-man job means. The battles along the OL are for:

    1. a starting job
    2. the 53-man roster (probably 8 or 9 OL)
    3. game day actives (usually 7)

    The two game-day actives that don’t start generally play different positions. One guy is an interior OL and the other a Tackle.

    We’ll see in training camp what the pecking order looks like.

    • John Zoul

      Well stated…my thoughts…The locks to start are Bulaga and Sitton…The oyher three positions, Dietrich-Smith and Tj Lang are the favorites at Center and Right Guard, respectively…but, not locks…Face facts:neither is any better than an average or slightly below average player career-to-date…I am not a big fan of either…I would like to see some new blood who has the potential to be an All-Pro. Datko is a question mark, as is Sherrod, whose career may be over…Newhouse is at best a ham-and egger: below average wherever he has played. I have no clue who will start at C, RG, and RT, but, I hope we get at least one new player to improve the line. Why the majority of bloggers think so highly of D-Smith and Lang is beyond me. They both can be replaced with better players.

      • http://allpackers.com nick perry

        I agree John. Lang gave up 12 sacks last season, depending on which publication you go by. He was battling the elbow injury last season so it’s tough to tell how much effect that had on him. One thing is for sure. Never move Lang to RT again! He was taken to lunch on almost every snap while filling in. I just find it strange that all last season on what a steal Datko may be in the 7th round, a sure 2nd rounder before his injury. What happened from last year to this? Is the shoulder that bad still? I’m with you on RG and RT should be wide open and may the best man win. One last thing, Bulaga gave up 5 sacks in 9 games. I know he had the nightmare in Seattle, but unimpressive nonetheless. May the BEST players win, not the ones with the biggest contracts.

  • Wayne

    Adam,

    All I am going to do is SMILE and WAVE, Just SMILE and WAVE!

    :)

  • Razer

    He has had ample time to rehab and learn the offense. This is his chance. He can be found money, if he is healthy. I have a good feeling about this one.

  • James Jeffers

    C’mon Adam Czech. You need to Czech your facts. Greg Van Wroten over Datko? Datko proved to be better last year and was hurt. Van Wroten could play neither guard nor tackle at the NFL level last year and had no injury excuse. Datko is ahead of Van Wroten for sure. If Sherrod is still injured, then Datko makes the team.

    • Oppy

      I’m not going to pull out any crystal ball and say Van Roten is better than Datko by any means, but your assessment is pretty harsh. Van Roten made the final cut, so the Packers see something in him that they like.

      Personally, what I like about Roten is he is very mobile and seems to have a great knack for run blocking on the move in space, per his collegiate highlight reels. Whether that translates to the NFL or not is an entirely different matter of course.

      Either way, seems very premature to say he can’t play G or T at the NFL level.. Packers thought he was good enough to keep on the final roster.

  • Dan

    I don’t get the Datko admiration. The guy was terrible in preseason. Watch a little tape and you’ll see that he’s a waist bender. Those guys don’t make it in the NFL. He’ll be lucky to hit the practice squad again.

    • Oppy

      Interesting about him not dropping his hips, I’ll look for it next time I see him working.

      The only thing that really struck me about Datko last camp was “Damn, dude, you gotta get over the shoulder.. You’ve been cleared, just play!” He was clearly protecting that shoulder and it showed.

      I think everyone is just hopeful for Datko based on his high grade from scouts before he blew up the shoulder again heading into his senior campaign. He was projected as a possible late first round pick had he declared after his junior season.

  • http://www.lyrictrumpet.com Bearmeat

    Why are people such jerks online? Good LORD people! We are all Packer fans here – and mostly intelligent ones at that. If you’ve got a problem with someone else’s opinion, talk coherently and respectfully.

    • Batavia Greg

      So who here is being uncivil? Can you be a credible advocate for civility when you call others, who in your opinion are being disrespectful, “jerks”?

      Sign me up for your crusade for civility, but “unsubscribe” me the next time you use the “j” word.

  • bobalou13

    Actually, I like this guy. Good size, good athleticism, was a helluva player in college at an elite program. Would have been a MUCH higher pick without the injury. He should be fully healthy again. We’ll see.

  • Wayne

    I really like the reasoning for the practice squad in the NFL. It gives a person like Datko a real opportunity to eventually show his abilities. I believe, He recently said that he was not over the injury until about game 4 last year. If he shows the talent that he had in college, Ted Thompson acquired great value in the 7th round. And I hope that will be the case!

  • Mojo

    Dat-One and Dat-ko in 2013. Dat’s all folks.

  • Savage57

    Good prognosis, Adam. But, to paraphrase Chris Berman – “That’s why they have training camp.”

  • Biggfootz

    If healthy, Datko gets the last spot, (assuming the long layoff has not deteriorated his skills too much).