With the draft getting closer and closer, the Packers have to address the team’s biggest question mark.
Ted Thompson must decide how much stock he needs to place in offensive linemen Derek Sherrod — who will have to beat out David Bakhtiari for the starting left tackle job. The former first rounder has only played in five games with no starts mainly because of a compound leg fracture.
It’s not only a huge risk to put Sherrod in a position to get some quality time. But it’s even more of a gamble when the guy who he’s protecting is the best quarterback in the league.
This is a make or break year for Sherrod. He is playing out the final year of his four-year, $6.6 million deal. The Mississippi State standout could have a dramatic turnaround for the first time in his four-year career this season. He could help own the line of scrimmage and give Rodgers ample time to see the field. But the biggest question is whether Sherrod can sustain abundant playing time.
The Packers aren’t in a position to turn away offensive linemen in the draft, especially if it means keeping Rodgers healthy. Quality offensive linemen are a premium and adding guys that can actually see the field aren’t just important, they’re mandatory.
The Packers must realize how much they need to invest in Sherrod. Fair or unfair, he hasn’t been a worthwhile investment. It’s hard to make any kind of an impact when you cannot see the field.
Sherrod is a case study in trust from both ends. The team has to trust that Sherrod is in fact 100 percent healthy, followed his training and rehab work perfectly applied in the offseason and is willing to work even harder as the season approaches. Sherrod must trust the team that the Packers don’t give up on him too soon and be transparent and up-front with him if they draft or bring in another offensive lineman.
Would we still be talking about Sherrod if he was a fifth round pick? Probably not. But the fact that he was a high pick is meaningless now. Nobody throughout the league truly knows what he can bring to a game and a team.
It may sound hollow, but the Packers are hoping that a contract year is enough to make Sherrod play through an amount of pain. David Bakhtiari isn’t exactly the answer at left tackle and unless the Packers move way up in the draft, it looks like that isn’t happening.
Which is why it’s in Thompson’s best interest to draft another left tackle that can be the bookend for years to come.——————
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