With the Packers first preseason game tomorrow, it’s important to get an idea where we stand so we have an idea what to look for. Unfortunately, practice tells us very little so we really don’t know where we stand. Still, when I thought about the questions I had I realized there were quite a few. Enough actually that 1 article simply isn’t going to give me enough of a platform to get all my thoughts out. With that, I present to you my list of questions for each position.
To view all positions, click HERE
Are they still elite?
Elite is debatable depending on your definition but whether or not the Packers have had one of the best offensive lines in the past 5 or so years is really not all that debatable. Just picturing Bakhtiari, Sitton, Linsley, Lang, and Bulaga all on the same line gets me all sorts of excited.
Unfortunately, that was the line of yesteryear. Coming into 2017, the Packers will be rolling with two different guards, Lane Taylor, and Jahri Evans. Although it’s possible the line isn’t set at this time, it’s relatively safe to say Taylor and Evans will be the starting guards.
If that is the lineup there is reason to be pessimistic. Evans is going into his 12th season. Although a solid guard, Evans hasn’t had a “good” season (according to PFF) since 2013. Still, Evans is, at worst, an average guard. He may not be T.J. Lang but should be a great stopgap while the Packers look to train up the next great Packers guard.
The bigger of the two issues is Lane Taylor. Taylor has struggled in his time with the Packers and last year was graded poorly by PFF. If anyone is going to be replaced along the line, it will likely be Taylor. That said, early reports have been quite promising. Taylor has basically been beating everyone in training camp including going undefeated against Mike Daniels in one of the practices. That alone should give us hope.
Who will stand out?
This brings us to our next logical question. With a subpar left guard and an aging right guard, at what point does one of the young guns step up and grab the attention of the coaches?
To date there hasn’t been much talk about offensive lineman but three to watch in the preseason matchups would be Jason Spriggs, Kofi Amichia and Geoff Gray. Spriggs, a 2016 second round pick is an athletic freak the Packers clearly have a plan for. Maybe not in 2017 but make no mistake, Spriggs was not drafted to be a backup. Unfortunately, he was pretty awful in 2016. Among backup lineman, we should expect Spriggs to be a man among boys. Let’s see if he is.
Kofi Amichia was the Packers 6th round draft pick this year. Although I’ve heard nothing about him, it’ll be interesting to see him play tomorrow. We all know how well the Packers do with mid to late round picks as linemen.
Gray is about the only lineman who’s name I’ve heard mentioned in a positive way through training camp. Beyond that, he most closely fits the prototype of a Packers guard at 6’5 315 pounds. If I were to put my money on a wild card it would be Gray.