Corey Linsley 2014 Report Card – Packers Player Grades

Green Bay Packers Report Cards, Player Grades
Packers OL Corey Linsley

1) Introduction: Corey Linsley seemingly came out of nowhere as a rookie 5th round draft pick to become the Packers starting center in 2014. He was drafted for depth to backup new center J.C. Tretter, but was thrust into the lineup after Tretter was injured during the preseason and never abdicated his position. He went on to be Pro Football Focus’ 5th highest graded center during 2014. He greatly exceeded all expectations set for him coming into the season.


2) Profile:

Corey Linsley

  • Age: 23
  • Born: 7/27/1991 in Youngstown, OH
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 301
  • College: Ohio State
  • Rookie Year: 2014
  • NFL Experience: 1 year

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: After the Packers let Evan Dietrich-Smith walk in free agency, they turned to converted tackle J.C. Tretter to be their center of the future. Linsley was drafted out of Ohio State in the fifth round for depth and as a developmental project. He was known for his tremendous strength and devastating run blocking, but projected as a weaker pass protector. After Tretter broke a bone in his leg during preseason, Linsley became the starting center by default and many Packers fans were extremely nervous about him protecting Aaron Rodgers, especially against the ferocious Seattle Seahawks pass rush. Seattle’s Bruce Irvin notoriously said he’d “pray for” Linsley before the game. However, the fears and trashtalking were unwarranted because Linsley went on to have a very good season for any center, especially for a rookie. For comparison, his Pro Football Focus grade was 10.0, and the player he replaced, Evan Dietrich-Smith, graded out at -0.2.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Many people thought inserting a rookie center into the lineup would get Aaron Rodgers killed and the entire offense would be destroyed in a bloodbath. Those fears were totally unfounded as Linsley had a solid season, although he did draw Aaron Rodgers’ ire at times with a few poorly timed and poorly aimed snaps. In the season opener against the Seahawks, Irvin’s prayers must have worked because Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of +2.2. He did struggle in weeks 2 and 3 against the Jets and Lions, respectively, and received negative grades with those efforts. He bounced back and had his highest grade of the season at +4.1 during the week 5 blowout against the Vikings. Over the course of the season, he proved to be an upgrade at center over Dietrich-Smith, who graded out as the NFL’s 19th overall center.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Linsley was a pleasant surprise all season. During the preseason, Tretter looked good, and Linsley was viewed as a short-term injury replacement. However, his season-long play was undoubtedly part of the line’s overall resurgence and best season in a while. He graded out positively in both run blocking (+5.4) and pass protection (+2.5). His pass blocking is still a work in progress, as he was called for three holding penalties and allowed one quarterback sack. The future certainly looks bright for the young center.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Linsley had an excellent game against the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Round, grading out at +2.0, but had a pedestrian performance against the Seahawks in the Championship Game with a grade of 0.0. That was obvious in the red zone and goal line when drives stalled and the Packers left a lot of points in the field.

7) Intangibles: He’s extremely strong and apparently can bench press a Volkswagon. Also, when there was a poor center-quarterback exchange once, Linsley said, “Aaron said it was a little short, so it was a little short.” That’s how you win over your quarterback and team.

Season Report Card (Player Grades):

(A) Level of expectations met during the season.

(B) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(C) Contributions to team during the playoffs.

Overall Grade: B+


Jay Hodgson is an independent sports blogger writing for and

Follow Jay on twitter at @jys_h.


21 thoughts on “Corey Linsley 2014 Report Card – Packers Player Grades

  1. I love this kid, love him! A year in a NFL weightroom and 18 games under his belt I wouldn’t be surprised is he’s All-Pro next year.

    1. Coaching, especially pass pro, will help him more than the weight room (he is already better than average at pass pro). He already is strong as an ox. But I love this kid too, and his attitude. Has a chance to be a beloved packer through and through.

  2. Wait a minute Mike Neal got a B – and Linsley got a B+? I know it’s for fun but that’s comical

    1. Please remember that the staff writers here at split the position groups to make the task of player evaluations more manageable. As such, we all have our own opinions on their performance, just like everyone who comments on this site.

      Feel free to disagree and discuss, but calling it “comical” is a bit out of line. Besides, I find more value in the discussion of the grade than the grade itself.

      1. Grades are hard! I agree with the overall grade, but couple of close calls involved. Could have been an A+ for expectations. Almost pro bowl level play out of a 5th rd. pick who did not even get reps with the #1 team until after Tretter’s injury is truly outstanding. A is okay though, I suppose one has to leave room in case another player does become elite in his rookie year. Expectations is only 25% of the overall grade for me.

        B for field contributions is okay. It a close call btw B & B+.

        Playoff grade arguably could be higher. IMO, it should have been higher. In the 2 playoff games combined, was he really dead average? It could have been a C+ or in a stretch, a B-.

        I’d still come out with a B+ grade overall. I view that as a high Red player. Love Jay’s articles. Again, Grades are Hard!

      2. No it’s not out of line it’s comical like I said. Mike Neal has the worse defensive grade out all packer starters per PFF who although is flawed does calculate pass rushes/pressure sacks.

        So if your “staff” wants to use subjective grading as opposed to metrics then be prepared for criticism.

        1. There’s a difference between criticism and being a douche. Obviously, you have every right to be a douche, but I also have every right to call you out on it.

          1. Oh no mr cyber bully resorted to name calling instead of using stastical and analytical information. 🙂

    2. Linsley had a much better season than Neal so he deserves a better grade, unless you are saying that Linsley should have an A- or an A. Thanks, Since ’61

      1. I agree Linsley had a season at center we haven’t seen since Scott Wells final season or Mike Flanagan’s last 2 seasons.

  3. 5th round gem! Too bad TT might have — I emphasize might — have blown 3rd and 4th rd picks on Khyri Thornton and Carl Bradford. I hope they pan out!

    1. Me too, both surprised me how BAD they were in the preseason last year. Both were rated pretty well coming out and Thornton was moving up on several draft sites.Be great if one or both showed up to play this year.

      1. I wasn’t aware that Thornton had rising stock in 2014. It seems like for most draft pundits, he was a head scratcher last year. CBS Sports had him as a 5th rounder and rated as the #16 DT. I think TT liked his versatility from playing DT, DE and NT in Southern Miss’s multiple fronts, but his sack total decreased every year for 4 years.
        Not exciting from a production standpoint, but I heard his work ethic, attitude and non-stop motor may help him overcome his shortcomings. I don’t think Thornton will ever be a star, but given his agility, my hope is that he’ll fit into the Packers rotational scheme of lighter, quicker pass rushers (much like the Seahawks have done).

  4. What a great find in the 5th round. This will reinforce TT’s tendency to stock the trenches with mid to late round guys. Maybe that is why we are investing in more O and D line coaches.

  5. Well grade is more or less OK. But you know, I’m here on players side. You might spent A- for rookie. He was marvelous. So much that you can not number his mistakes on the fingers of both hands!

    1. Absolutely. How this kid doesn’t get an A is beyond me. I think Professor Hodgson is a little stingy…

  6. A+ for expectations for sure. Playoff grade bit harsh to pull him down to a B+ overall, but doesn’t matter anyway. Love this guy. Just the type of player we needed at the position we needed to fill. Sandwiched between Josh and TV with another year of experience, can’t wait til season starts.

  7. Very pleased that the Packers have a true Center to play Center. Based on his rookie season we may not need to worry about this position for another 10-15 years. Good job by TT. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. How come everyone is so surprised at his performance. He was a true center at Ohio state & they didn’t do too badly as a college team.

  8. Packers coaches need to do a better job of alerting NFL officials to this kid’s strength before games. That way when he absolutely and cleanly trucks a DL on the way to a pancake, they won’t assume holding and fly the flags.

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