Cory’s Corner: Time is running out for Derek Sherrod

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Offensive lineman Derek Sherrod has missed over a year-and-a-half since being selected as the 32nd player in the 2011 draft.
Offensive lineman Derek Sherrod has missed over a year-and-a-half since being selected as the 32nd player in the 2011 NFL Draft.

While the rest of the nation seems affixed to the Aaron Rodgers watch, there is another injury concern that needs more attention.

Enter Derek Sherrod.

The 6-foot-6, 321-pound offensive lineman came to the Packers with a mountain of promise as the 32nd selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. He was supposed to be the next offensive line anchor that would protect franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers as long as he wore that G on the side of his helmet.

But then he broke his right leg in December 2011 causing him to miss the entire 2012 season. He began this season on the physically unable to play list and wasn’t added to the 53-man roster until Nov. 5.

He has gotten scant playing time the last four weeks but hasn’t been able to really do anything of note. The Packers have a club option for 2015 before he becomes a free agent the following season.

So that puts the Packers in a precarious situation. Over a year-and-a-half has been lost already and if he cannot crack the starting lineup against guys like T.J. Lang or Don Barclay, then the Packers should be concerned.

Bryan Bulaga will come back next season and should quickly become the best lineman that has allowed jailbreak pressure for all four quarterbacks the Packers have started this year.

I doubt it’s time to give up on Sherrod just yet, but if he continues to struggle next August and into next season, how many more chances can the Packers give and afford? Ted Thompson got lucky with David Bakhtiari as a fourth round pick this past spring. Right after Bulaga went down with an ACL tear in the Family Night scrimmage, Bakhtiari has been inserted into the starting lineup and has protected the Packers’ quarterback’s blind side each week.

Even if Sherrod cannot get back to the college player that started 35 games at tackle for Mississippi State, including all 25 his junior and seasons, the Packers must try and forecast the future. Obviously, the Packers cannot continue to pay him first round money when his time in the trainer’s room outnumbers his time on the field. But if they can come to a compromise and rework his deal that suits both parties, Sherrod could find new life in Green Bay.

This whole season has been one of what ifs. The most glaring one has been what if Rodgers had never been injured. Most likely, the Packers wouldn’t have to scratch and claw for a road win against the Bears in Week 17 just to punch their playoff berth. But here’s a spinoff to that scenario: What if Sherrod and Bulaga played this entire season and spearheaded an offense to roll through the NFC with at least the No. 2 seed?

The most important time for Sherrod isn’t right now because this season has been pretty much lost anyway. He didn’t get the precious reps in summer two-a-days where young guys really learn how to play the pro game. The most important time for Sherrod is this summer. He needs to not only get better but pole vault the expectations that Mike McCarthy has of him.

Right now, he’s nothing more than an injury risk worthy of breather minutes and anything more than that is dangerous.

Even if Rodgers doesn’t play in the season finale, which I think will happen, Sherrod’s nomadic journey through the medical wilderness is a much bigger problem because he represents all that has gone wrong on the offensive line.

And in today’s NFL, if you cannot protect your biggest asset, you are dead in the water. The only reason the Packers have a beating playoff heartbeat this year is because the Lions continued to prove their bungling ways by losing five of their last six.

The Packers really need Sherrod but moving forward how much can Sherrod give the Packers?

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Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn

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  • http://jersyal.com tim

    Sherrod is basically an unproven rookie going into next season. You’re right Cory, he’s got a long list of minuses. On the plus side however, he’s a tackle, he had first round talent, so the packers may give him a longer look next preseason, and he was also a TT pick, and for right or wrong, that alone buys him time. He’s got through training camp next year to prove he’s one of the top 53 players.

    • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

      You’re right guys, he has more time because he’s a number 1 pick. I’d think they’d take into consideration that a 2nd surgery was needed too. Bulaga hasn’t played in 25 games, Sherrod 2 years this month. If Bulaga stays healthy, Bakhtiari has a year in a NFL weight room and this past year under his belt, Tretter coming back, Sherrod would be gravy. Even if Sherrod doesn’t show the promise he did coming out, he has to be a better option that Marshall Newhouse! Maybe just maybe the Packers will have a offensive line next year to protect Rodgers.

    • JimR_in_DC

      IMO, Sherrod should be given plenty of opportunity next season. In his first training camp, he was stuck playing musical chairs on the O-line by MM and Campen. I never understood why a coach would take a 1st round player, and cross-train him to play positions he had no experience with. He should have been groomed to play tackle and tackle alone. The Packers stunted the poor kid’s development. Oh well.

      Go Pack! Crush duhBears this weekend.

  • Stroh

    Clearly you don’t seem to understand. You don’t recover from being off the field for 2 full years w/ no practice during that entire time to step onto the field and pick up where you left off! Its nearly impossible… If anyone was expecting Sherrod to do that you were fooling yourself. OL have to play w/ excellent technique and he has had no technique work during those 2 years, not to mention the entire training camp since he’s been in the league. His rookie year offseason was wiped out by the lockout and he has been injured since then.

    Sherrod isn’t running out of time. He will finally have an offseason healthy to focus on his techniques and get stronger and in better condition. The Packers are not going to release him. They’ll give him this year and next to see if he develops into a starting OT.

    IMO this offseason he will step into a starting OT job, probably at LT w/ Bulaga moving back to RT. Bahktiari will move into the role that fits him best as the backup OT, w/ Barclay probably moving to OG.

    Sherrod will be around for the next 2 years no matter what happens. Hopefully he fulfills the promise he showed during the draft process that helped make him a 1st rd pick.

    • Stroh

      BTW he’s only on the books for 2.1 and whatever the club option is in ’15. He will play that out. guaranteed…

      • http://allgbp.com Thegreatreynoldo

        The club option is the average of the 3rd highest paid through 25th highest paid tackles. That’s a lot. If its based on salary cap, based on this year, it’s 4.9 Million if its just left tackles, and over $5 million if its all tackles. Bulaga will be on a new contract, EDS will have been resigned as a FA, Sitton and Lang are being paid well. that would mean a very expensive Oline indeed.

    • Tarynfor12

      “Sherrod will be around for the next 2 years no matter what happens.”

      Exactly the kind of thinking that hurts the Packers….a fear of cutting apron strings….if he cannot dominate(win) the LT or RT spots by mid training camp…snip snip.

    • BRinMilwaukee

      Even though he’s starting to hit the rookie wall, Bahktiari is much better than a backup OT. Sherrod has shown nothing to indicate that he’ll ever be better than Bahktiari.

      • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

        I agree Brian, I don’t think Bahktiari is just shown the bench that easy. Most scouts thought David B. was a guard or RT. He had a string of games where he had a penalty, but think all and all he’s done pretty damn well for a rookie 4th round pick. Sherrod was lost his rookie year and hasn’t played since. He had a horrific break, 2 surgeries, and hasn’t played in 2 years. To assume he’s going to just come in and take someone’s job, is a bit much. It would be great, but lets get him on the 53 man roster and 46 game day roster every week first. Bulaga was drafted to be a LT. I think the Packers move Bahktiari to RT and Barclay to Guard. Hey if Sherrod comes back so strong that he wins a spot, that’s better yet.

      • Stroh

        Sherrod is more talented and will become the starter IMO. Bulaga will be the other OT. Bahktiari will be relegated to the bench. Can’t start 3 OT and he isn’t beating Lang or Sitton out of a job either. He’s exceeded expectations to some degree but its not like he’s a stud, sure fire Pro Bowl OT either. Little better than Newhouse was.

        Another year or 2 and he’ll be a starter, probably at OG.

  • Archie

    In case there is anyone left not of the opinion that MM is an ass-clown, read this: http://www.packersnews.com/article/20131223/PKR0101/131223043/McCarthy-explains-his-post-game-speech

    MM thought his team, was eliminated by Sunday’s loss and told the team as much in his post-game address. Gimme a break!

  • Archie

    It is disappointing that Sherrod is not at least better than Newhouse but apparently he isn’t. No choice but to start over with him and show patience. Give him next two years IF he shows he is progressing. If/when he plateaus at a below NFL level, then he cuts himself.

  • Elo

    I believe Sherrod will be around a couple of years as Stroh mentions. I also think its fair to give TT some credit for having Bakhtiari on the roster. While TT may have gotton “lucky”, with this kid, he picked him none the less. He may not be the best option at starting OT going forward, but he has done much better than anyone would have expected.

  • Cory Jennerjohn

    As I said, I highly doubt the Packers would let Sherrod go before his 2015 club option year. But he really needs to show promise this summer in order to win over the organization.

    • Stroh

      They wouldn’t have used a 1st rd pick on him if they didn’t already know he had a lot of promise. They’ll give him EVERY chance to prove himself. My guess is he’s a starter in ’14. Bahktiari can be the backup OT or maybe move to OG in a couple years when Lang and/or Sitton leave as over 30 yr old FA.

  • JKB

    the business side of football means they have to give Sherrod next T.C. to see what happens. newhouse will be gone, buluga will start 1 side or the other so it is Sherrod against bakitahri for the other.

  • Wagszilla

    I’m not a big Sherrod fan but I think he has more time than Newhouse.

    I’d like to see Sherrod go join a biker gang in the offseason. Get toughened up a little.

    That’s why you see such a badass before you all. I trained every day smoking cartons of cigs and downing bottles of Jack by noontime. I bet I could go play on Sunday and shut down Jared Allen with one hand tied behind my back.

    Brothers for life, lost forever!

    • Cow42

      Pack needs to sign Incognito to help out this Sherrod character.

  • http://www.lyrictrumpet.com Bearmeat

    1. The GB OL has been better this year than it has in years past. Not top 5, but solid until ARod went out.

    2. Having the 2010 and 2011 1st round picks OUT all year at OT does NOT allow for a fair comparison of the talent acquisition level at the position group.

    3. Sherrod obviously still is not ready. The real time for evaluation will be next TC. Remember, Mike Flanagan had the SAME injury and was out for the SAME amount of time as Sherrod has been. Flanagan went on to have a very good career for GB.

    4. Packers fans are spoiled and need to chill the heck out. Even if they lose on Sunday, they’ve got one of the better top to bottom rosters in the NFL.

    • Cow42

      “…they’ve got one of the better top to bottom rosters in the NFL.”

      Um.
      No.

      Top 1/4 of their roster is top 10ish.
      Bottom 1/4 is horrible…

      Newhouse
      Jennings
      Banjo
      House
      Wilson
      Stoneburner
      Tolzien
      B. Jones
      Hawk
      Sherrod
      Taylor
      Palmer
      Worthy

      Yuck.

      • Bearmeat

        Dude.

        That is the caliber of the bottom 1/3rd (or more) of EVERY TEAM’S ROSTER IN THE NFL with the exception of SF and SEA. (because they have drafted high for years and haven’t had to pay their players -esp. the QBs – yet)

        This doesn’t even ACCOUNT for the effect the injuries have had on the team. Especially the bottom 1/3rd of the roster.

        In a hard salary cap league with a yearly 1-32 reverse standings drafting placement, this is what you’re going to get. There is NEVER going to be another 1960’s Lombardi Packers style team that stays intact like they did. Ever again.

        You need to recheck your perspective and your priorities – or you are going to continue to be a miserable NFL fan.

      • packerswest

        IMHO Hawk and B. Jones are “average”, (overpaid but average) it’s pretty difficult to judge Sherrod since he has barely played in 2 years, Tolzien maybe ok with another year maybe not, House is a big disappointment and probably will be gone next year. Yeah the rest are pretty much worthless.

        But really are the other team’s bottom 1/4 rosters much better?? How would someone even be able to judge that?

        • Ed Schoenfeld

          The only thing that is ‘disappointing’ about House is that hew isn’t better than Williams and Shields. That’s not really a down check for a guy who is still developing. He is a perfectly solid 3rd corner (ahead of Hyde) with upside.

          • Barutan Seijin

            What have you seen from House that suggests that he is “solid” or even “developing”. I’ve seen nothing from him.

  • Turophile

    2014 preseason and early in the regular season will be crucial to Derek.

    Bakhtiari has already, in effect, got a jump on him and Tretter will be back as well. Tretter has played tackle too, though I expect C/G to be where he does his work. Bulaga back means it is a game of musical chairs, where someone will find no chair available (ie a starting spot). Barclay would make a perfectly servicable backup tackle as well.

  • bubbaloo

    “What if Sherrod and Bulaga played this entire season and spearheaded an offense to roll through the NFC with at least the No. 2 seed?”
    Say What?
    Doesn’t “rolling through the NFC” require some semblance of a defense? I think so!

    • Barutan Seijin

      As long as we’re playing that game, what if Justin Harrell were to come back and play DT next year. Wouldn’t that be great.

  • http://jersyal.com tim

    Sherrod will prove he belongs or doesn’t just like everyone else. He may even get a longer look than most. That he hasn’t progressed more isn’t anyone’s fault, just bad luck. He will be a new face next training camp, only better. Same with Worthy and Tretter. It will be like having extra draft picks.

  • Mike Sherman

    The most interesting camp battles for next year, depending on how the draft shakes out, will be OL, then Safety, than ILB. If Sherrod returns to the guy they though he was, you have to start him at LT and move Bulaga. Most people thought Bulaga was on his way to being a pro bowl RT. If Sherrod is good and Sitton and Bulaga play like pro bowlers, Lang is solid and EDS is resigned and plays solid, thats a great OL! If only safety had prospects like our OL.

  • 52lightsxout52

    I think Sherrod’s time has pretty much run it’s course. Bakhtiari has that LT position on lockdown, and all the valuable experience he is getting this season can only help his chances of remaining there going forward. I’m thinking Bulaga probably moves back to right tackle next season, with Barclay being the primary back-up there. If Sherrod wants to remain on the roster, he will likely have to take a pay cut and be a back-up tackle as Marshall Newhouse will most likely be gone…

    • Aaronqb

      How can he take a pay cut? He is still on his rookie contract. Can’t renegotiate that per the CBA.

  • http://butlerrf@msn.com old time packer fan

    Kind of interesting that the Pack didn’t place anyone on the Pro Bowl team. Our best players came up injured & not eligible, which just means that we have a large group of players that are probably just average. That’s not a problem if they all play together as a TEAM. I think some decent o-line guys can be picked up as FA’s after some other team spent the time & dollars to develop them. The patriots about gutted their team this year, but are playoff bound. AGAIN.

  • Shavager

    As long as Sherrod is breathing and moving–HE’S BETTER THAN NEWHOUSE! IF Packers don’t jettison Newhouse before next season and replace him with a pick or UDFA–the Packers are asking for and getting just what they will get with MNewhouse.