Category Archives: David Bakhtiari

11

June

Offensive Linemen Musical Chairs, 2014 Edition: who stays, who goes?

Outside of special teams, nothing is more confusing, more obfuscated or more esoteric than offensive line play; We all know that Joe Thomas is supposed to be one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL right now, but do you or I really know that?  I’ve never watched a game specifically focused on Thomas (which would of course require me to watch a Browns game…..so no thanks), and I suspect that even Browns fans probably haven’t really paid all that much attention to him.  The only real reason I know of Joe Thomas at all is 1) he went to Wisconsin and 2) I’ve been told he’s one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL today.  At least with other positions, there are splash plays or statistics we can fall back on whether it be sacks, yards after the catch, Dwight Freeney’s spin move, the back shoulder catch etc.  But for offensive linemen, none of that really exists; the “pancake” has never really gotten off the ground as a established metric of offensive linemen success nor does a great block ever make the Sportscenter highlight reel.  Add on top of that there are actually 5 positions on the offensive line, and we get a confusing mess of contradictory statements; offensive linemen must all work together, but each have different jobs.  Tackles are tackles and guards are guards, except some are left tackles but not right tackles and some are right guards but not left guards.  Center is a unique position, unless it isn’t and you put a guard in there.  There is a distinct difference between “interior” linemen and “bookend” offensive linemen, unless of course you kick your tackle to play guard.

In all of that, the Packers are faced with a conundrum; there are 5 positions and traditionally 2 backup positions, making 7 offensive linemen total.  What I’ve done is made a mental excercise of some combinations of offensive linemen that are likely to happen when the Packers roster is reduced to 53.  A couple rules: I’d highly doubt the Packers carry any more since offensive linemen aren’t all that useful on special teams meaning they’d almost always be on the inactive list.  Of course the Packers have had more than 7 offensive linemen in the middle of the season due to injuries and what not, but its obviously not their first choice.  Also there needs to be a backup for both tackle and guard; supposedly there is a significance between the two but Ted Thompson probably disagrees since the vast majority of offensive linemen that have been on the Packer’s roster were college left tackles.

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14

March

Evan Dietrich-Smith Signs With The Buccaneers

Packers C Evan Dietrich-Smith

Packers C Evan Dietrich-Smith

Tom Silverstein has been a busy guy, first reporting on the resigning of defensive end/nose tackle BJ Raji and now reporting that center Evan Dietrich-Smith has signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

 

With that, the Packers now have a big question to answer this offseason, much like they did when they let Scott Wells sign with the St. Louis Rams.   JC Tretter becomes perhaps the de facto starter, which is a little scary considering he was a left tackle in college and broke his foot during rookie orientation last year, essentially giving him a redshirt rookie season.  Other options might include Don Barclay, who practiced at center during training camp last year with somewhat disastrous results or TJ Lang, who is rumored to be the emergency center (or at least Josh Sitton jokes that he is). Luckily, the Packers have some other options on the offensive line, with both Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod likely being in the mix at tackle, either Don Barclay and/or David Bakhtiari could slide into the interior.

In terms of the draft, the Packers have never thought very highly of centers (Wells was a 6th round draft choice while EDS was a undrafted free agent), so it’s unlikely that they would draft a center high, rather they like to draft tackles who likely wouldn’t make it in the NFL and convert them to interior linemen.

The top free agent center is Alex Mack, who was designated the transition franchise tag for the Browns, likely meaning that the Packers will not try to pry Mack away from the Browns.  Again going back to Thompson’s history drafting and retaining centers, it appears as if the Packers front office views centers as largely fungible, meaning the Packers backup likely will be another low round draft pick or an undrafted free agent.  Another option might be to run the “Jeff Saturday” play, where the Packers sign a veteran center while they hope JC Tretter or Don Barclay gain enough experience at center to play next there next season.

11

February

David Bakhtiari 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Packers OT David Bakhtiari

Packers OT David Bakhtiari

1) Introduction: David Bakhtiari was considered an “add depth” pick taken in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. He was my 17th rated tackle (right after the Bears’ Jordan Mills) mainly because I felt he should have stayed in school one more year and put on some upper body strength. With Derek Sherrod’s return a question mark, Bakhtiari would be looked to serve as back up to starters Bryan Bulaga and Don Barclay.

2) Profile:

David Bakhtiari

  • Age: 22
  • Born: 9/30/1991 in San Mateo, CA.
  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 300
  • College: Colorado
  • Rookie Year: 2013
  • NFL Experience: 1 year

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: Be the game day backup for both tackle positions while hitting the weight room hard.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: His highlight had to be in preseason when Aaron Rodgers was asked about the rookie protecting his blind side. Rodgers responded that he hadn’t even give that a thought, meaning Bakhtiari was doing just fine. His lowlight was during the Thanksgiving day massacre, where he was victimized for three of the six sacks the Packers gave up that day.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: After way too many sacks in 2012, the Packers had taken steps to protect Rodgers’ blind side by moving Bulaga and Sitton to the left side. That plan went up in smoke when Bulaga went down for the season. The Packers could have moved Marshall Newhouse or Don Barclay from where they were battling for the right tackle spot. Instead, they didn’t hesitate to slot Bakhtiari in at the all-important left tackle spot. Bakhtiari was adequate as a run blocker, and downright solid as a pass protector with two exceptions – the Lions and 49ers. Bakhtiari gave up 10 sacks in 2013, including playoffs.. Eight of them came against two of the best defensive lines in the league – the Lions and the 49ers. Over the other 13 games, Bakhtiari gave up only 2 sacks. While Bakhtiari had his rookie moments, that was pretty darn good for a rookie fourth round draft choice.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Bakhtiari gave up two sacks and was uncharacteristically called for two penalties against the 49ers.

Season Report Card:

(B+) Level of expectations met during the season

(B) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(C-) Contributions to team during the playoffs

26

December

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

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.

31

October

The 2013 Class is Packers’ Best Draft Yet Under Thompson

Packers RB Eddie Lacy leads a ridiculously strong 2013 rookie class for the Green Bay Packers

Ted Thompson has made a lot of brilliant draft picks since taking over as Green Bay Packers general manager in 2005.

He drafted some guy named Aaron Rodgers in the first round in 2005, Greg Jennings (current issues aside) in the second round in 2006,  Jordy Nelson in the second round in 2008 and both Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji in the first round in 2009. Don’t forget Randall Cobb in the second round of 2011 either.

The middle rounds have seen success too. James Jones was a third rounder in 2007 and Josh Sitton was selected in the fourth round in 2008.  Sitton’s partner-in-crime, T.J. Lang, was a fourth rounder as well in 2009.

This is just a partial list of great picks Thompson has made during his tenure with the Packers.  He’s hit more than he’s missed and has Green Bay poised to be in Super Bowl contention for the next several years.    We could go on and on about how deft Thompson has been at drafting over the years and that doesn’t even include undrafted free agents.

That being said, no draft class of Thompson’s has made quite the impact, especially right out of the gate, as the 2013 class of rookies.  Some of it may not have been planned on due to yet another injury epidemic on the Packers’ roster, but this group of youngsters has come to play and very well could down as Thompson’s finest draft class to date.

To review, here is the 2013 Green Bay Packers draft class:

1. Datone Jones, DE, UCLA

2. Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama

4a. David Bakhtiari, T, Colorado

4b. J.C. Tretter, T, Cornell

4c. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA

5a. Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa

5b. Josh Boyd, DE, Mississippi State

6. Nate Palmer, LB, Illinois State

7a. Charles Johnson, WR, Grand Valley State

7b. Kevin Dorsey, WR, Maryland

7c. Sam Barrington, LB, South Florida

Go down that list and you will see many reasons why the Packers are still in control of the NFC North despite Lambeau Field once again doubling as an infirmary.

28

October

Packers Rookie LT David Bakhtiari Masters the Metrodome

Packers LT David Bakhtiari

Packers rookie LT held Vikings DE Jared Allen without a tackle or sack on Sunday night.

It was Oct. 4, 2009. My wife and I got married two days before and to kick off our honeymoon, we had tickets to watch the Packers play the Vikings at the Metrodome in Brett Favre’s first game against his former team.

We couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to start our new life together than by watching the Packers stick it to Favre under the giant Teflon egg shell that somehow passed for a professional sports venue.

Well, things didn’t work out as planned. Favre was the one sticking it to the Packers and the Vikings rolled to an easy victory that soured our first few days of marital bliss.

Obviously, things have turned around since then for the Packers, but one thing has remained consistently shaky whenever the Vikings visited the Humpty Dumpty Dome: Green Bay’s left tackles always struggle.

On the night-to-forget in 2009, T.J. Lang and Daryn Colledge combined to allow four sacks, six hurries and one QB hit from the left tackle slot. Aaron Rodgers was often doomed before he was able to set his feet as he tried to out-duel Favre.

Lang and College might have turned in one of the worst left tackle performances in Packers’ history that night, but they’re not the only left tackle’s to struggle in the Dome.

According to Pro Football Focus, Packers left tackles allowed six sacks, five QB hits and nine hurries in five games at the Metrodome from 2008-12. The collective pass block rating of anyone who lined up to protect Rodgers’ blind side was a paltry -8.2. Run blocking from left tackle wasn’t much better — a collective -4.1 over the same time period.

Much of that damage has been caused by Vikings defensive end Jared Allen. Allen has eaten up many left tackles over the years, not just left tackles wearing green and gold. In addition to the god-awful horn and piped in noise, one of the most annoying things about the Metrodome is Allen’s calf-roping sack dance, a dance that Packers fans have seen far too much of over the years.

Thanks to Bakhtiari on Sunday night, though, the only thing Allen was roping were a couple of giant goose eggs in the sacks and tackles column.

18

October

What Happens If Evan Dietrich-Smith Gets Hurt?

Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith

Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith

The injury headlines mostly coming out of Green Bay right now have been dealing with Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, James Jones and of course Randall Cobb.  While all these injuries are serious to the success of the team, one injury that has slipped under the radar a little bit that could have even more disastrous ramifications is that backup interior linemen Greg Van Roten has been placed on injured reserve with a foot injury, ending his season.  The reason why this should be more concerning then most people are realizing is two fold 1) there is no official backup center at the moment (Ourlads still has Van Roten as the backup) and more importantly 2) knowing how the Packers offense, chances are good an injury to starter Evan Dietrich-Smith will result in a lot of linemen playing new positions.  While losing two outside linebackers or two wide receivers is obviously not great, young back up players have a good shot at hiding some of that loss; for instance Jamari Lattimore did a astounding job last week in his first start, Mike Neal and Nick Perry have also done a great job covering for the loss of Clay Matthews and Jarrett Boykin looked to finally get in sync with quarterback Aaron Rodgers near the end of the game. However, losing the starting center for the Packers is like losing the starting center, guard and probably tackle as the entire offensive line will be shuffled as a result.  Considering the fact that the backup center is currently unknown, below are some of the possible offensive line options.

 

Situation: Evan Dietrich-Smith is injured, the Packers offensive line will look like…

 

Option 1: Bakhtiari (LT), Sitton (LG), Barclay (C), Lang (LG), Newhouse (RT) – postion changes: 2

Under the “best man available” strategy that the Packers love to employ, they bring out their 5 best offensive linemen out but probably in the worst position.  Barclay was seriously considered for the center position during the offseason but was pretty much an abject failure with multiple botched snaps and a general uneasiness about the position according to reports.  Newhouse takes Barclay’s place at right tackle, a position he’s never played in the NFL and one where he didn’t look all that comfortable in during preseason games either.  Surprisingly, Barclay has been pretty decent in pass protection this year and is a sizable upgrade in terms of run blocking to Newhouse so overall, it’s a total loss at right tackle.  On the plus side, Newhouse does have the most experience of the backups and probably has the best rapport with Rodgers but he’s never been able to overcome his limited physical abilities to become a really dependable player.  Nevertheless, if Dietrich-Smith was injured this week, I’m guessing this is what the Packers do.