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Is There Reason to Believe Bulaga, Sherrod Aren't on the Road to Recovery?

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Is There Reason to Believe Bulaga, Sherrod Aren't on the Road to Recovery?

In Peter King's post-Super Bowl Monday Morning Quarterback column, he gives his final rankings for the top 15 teams in the NFL, listing the Green Bay Packers at No. 8 overall.

Regardless of King's or anyone's opinion on where the Packers rank, the curious part of his article is his quick take on the Packers. King makes one for every team, but his thought on Green Bay seemed to come out of left field.

Out of any hundreds of things King could have said about the Packers, he chose to write this: "I’d be surprised if Ted Thompson doesn’t take a tackle with one of his first two picks in May."

For a team that got unexpectedly solid play from rookie David Bakhtiari protecting Aaron Rodgers' backside in 2013, combined with the presumed returns of former first round draft choices Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod, there's plenty to be optimistic about regarding the tackle position in Green Bay.

Unless, of course, the recoveries of Bulaga and Sherrod from their respective injuries aren't going as well as hoped.

Bulaga missed the entire 2013 season with a torn ACL suffered in training camp, and that's coming off a year in which he missed the final seven games in 2012, landing on injured reserve with a fractured hip.

Sherrod finally resumed his playing career in 2013 after gruesomely breaking both his tibia and fibula back in 2011, but saw only six snaps on offense the entire season. The rest of playing time came on special teams.

Both players enter critical seasons in 2014, hoping to prove they're over the injuries that kept them out for so long in 2014.

Only the Packers know exactly how well Bulaga and Sherrod are faring in their recovery, but it's not as if they're publicly sharing intimate details of their rehab. Nor are they letting anyone know which sides of the offensive line––left or right––they plan to play them.

It certainly wouldn't be a surprise to see the Packers select an offensive tackle at some point over the course of seven rounds in the NFL draft, but seeing one taken in the first two rounds may come as a shock to some given the perceived needs on other areas of the team, such as safety, inside linebacker and tight end.

After all, if Bakhtiari, Bulaga and Sherrod do happen to be healthy, there might not be room for a rookie to see the field at all. That's a big "if," to be sure.

But perhaps King is privvy to more information than he's letting on.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (89) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Evan's picture

Yeah, that surprised me as well.

I chalk it up to King actually not being that familiar with the Packers this season - which is to be expected. When you cover the entire NFL, you can't know the ins and outs of every team.

I've seen a few mocks that have the Packers taking o-linemen in the 1st round (even guards). I just think "Packers" and "bad o-line" are sort of a lazy, default position right now for writers who don't cover the Packers exclusively.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Yeah, my favorite is seeing Mocks having them taking a guard with their first pick.
Guard is one of the best positions on the team right now with starters. Possibly need help with depth, but I feel between Barclay, Tretter, Lane, and GVR they can have someone that can fill in there nicely especially with an offseason for them.

jeremy's picture

TT doesn't draft Guards in the first round.

bryce's picture

or the first three rounds

Evan's picture

Or ever, really.

fish and crane's picture

long live TT just for that

WisconsinRob's picture

It's the end of the year, and Peter still had to mail in a column or two. Maybe he just didn't have his coffee or his walk in today? Maybe he was busy stealing gloves from another kid instead of actually doing research.

Maybe he... dammit, this fool sucked me in AGAIN. You win this round, Peter King!

D B H's picture

Or maybe there is a presumption that the guys we have are injury prone? Two 1st round tackles, and they've started a combined 9 games in two years.

Here's to hoping Bulaga comes back at 100% and Sherrod comes back strong enough to beging growing as an NFL player.

Hank Scorpio's picture

Sherrod only had the one injury. Calling him "injury prone" seems a bit of a stretch to me. OTOH, before that injury, he was showing little or no signs of being worthy of a 1st round pick. After he was activated from PUP this last season, Newhouse was still called upon to cover injury so he didn't exactly come back strong, either. I'd buy that he isn't any good before I'd buy he is injury prone.

Bulaga's injury history is definitely a concern. Some guys fight lots of injuries early in their career before shaking the injury bug and remaining healthy, for the most part. Others don't shake the injury bug.

Evan's picture

"OTOH, before that injury, he was showing little or no signs of being worthy of a 1st round pick."

True, but there were so many mitigating circumstances (that have been beaten to death) that I don't think any conclusion can really be drawn yet. I'm still very hopeful.

Nerd's picture

Not the least of which is that he didn't get an offseason due to the strike, then when he finally did get to practice, they tried to play him at G. Totally messed him up, just like it almost always does with these guys.

Trying to save roster spots with "versatility."

Stroh's picture

Well since teams usually only keep 8 OL on the roster and only 7 on game day rosters, its absolutely NECESSARY that backups have some versatility if they want to be active for games (which they all do). I guess you would carry 10 OL on the game day roster so you can have a backup at every OL position wouldn't you?!

D B H's picture

I wasn't saying that I believe them to be injury prone - I meant that could be what King is assuming??

mark's picture

"Two 1st round tackles, and they’ve started a combined 9 games in two years."

[pukes in mouth]

Drealyn Williams's picture

Wouldn't it be better to go interior since Lang is versatile?

Hank Scorpio's picture

The Packers usually take college OTs and move them around to fill out the line.

Evan's picture

Yeah, I don't think the Packers have drafted a true guard in at least 5-6 years.

Stroh's picture

The last college OG the packers drafted was Jason Spitz in '06. Since then its been all college OT that transition to OG.

Mike's picture

And he was drafted in the hopes of being the future at C

Stroh's picture

He played OG his 1st couple years and was being transitioned to Center in his 3rd year when he hurt his neck. Never the same after that.

DIZ76's picture

because your best line athletes are at tackle in college. rarely are they true guards at college, it happens but most time the best of the best are on the edges.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Correct. Most of the time OT's in college are more athletic and versatile and can move inside if they don't work out at OT. Where most college Guards can't move outside thus making them a one position only player and if they don't work out then they have to get cut.
Green Bay is a place that likes flexibility when it comes to their OL.

fish and crane's picture

the same can be said for safeties... Safeties don't get older and play corner....

KennyPayne's picture

If GB has to use a round 1 or 2 pick on an OT, God help us because the D needs players at every position with the possible exception of CB -- and that is before we find out if Raji, Pickett, Wilson, Jolly, Neal, Jennings and Shields are going to return.

Given that we know the GM will not acquire any veteran talent to fill the gaping holes on D, the draft is the only hope and generally only 1st and 2nd rounders have much hope of making an impact in year 1.

Taking a Tackle means more of the same on D in 2014.

RC Packer Fan's picture

If Shields doesn't return, we need help at CB also. House isn't consistent enough and Hyde is more of an inside guy as is Hayward.
Could Hayward play outside, probably, but he was fantastic as the inside guy in the nickel packages.

Barutan Seijin's picture

The top two picks in 2012 were a pass rushing OLB and a DT. The top pick in 2013 was Datone Jones. Where did that get the Packers?

WKUPackFan's picture

Three talented players, all of who have either missed significant time (games, Perry and Worthy) or development (Datone) due to injury. Unfortunately, this will set back there expected timeline making folks even more impatient.

These guys were drafted with a larger multi-year plan in mind of rebuilding the defense (Hayward is a big part as well). Its too early to know, but how they work out will be an important part of TT's legacy for the post SB period.

Drealyn Williams's picture

Didn't N.O. have a horrible defense the season before and turned it around this year? A good safety and defense coordinator change worked wonders. Just saying....

KennyPayne's picture

Think that big free agent signing at CB -- Keenan Lewis helped the Saints out a little bit too.

In GB we are not drafting as high as N.O. did in 2013 when they selected Vaccaro and there is no Rob Ryan coming in to revive the lethargic D, just more of the same with Dom.

Hank Scorpio's picture

The Packers are set at CB if Shields is retained. Without him, they are not bad. Most DCs would figure out how to make such a talented group of CBs into a better pass defense. That Capers can't says a lot about him, IMO.

Bomdad's picture

These two are reaching the end of their rookie contracts. The packers are going to be using most of their Cap to pay Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews. Not a lot of salary left to pay a veteran contract to a starting left tackle. Just like having a quarterback on a rookie contract, like the Niners and Seahawks, having a left tackle on a rookie deal would save a lot of money. Maybe this is where king is coming from.

Jamie's picture

Believe me...King is incapable of thinking that deep.

WKUPackFan's picture

I shouldn't enjoy this comment as much as I do, well done Jamie.

Bert's picture

I can kinda see where King is coming from. If Bulaga and Sherrod are healthy no need to draft an OT high. I there are still questions by draft day then that may change. I mean we have to protect Rodgers. Even if the defense sucks Rodgers gives us a chance to win against most anybody. If he gets hurt we have minimal chance to win against most teams. He is the franchise and we gotta keep him on the field as Priority #1.

Barutan Seijin's picture

King probably watched a Packer game and saw Don Barclay play. There's your explanation.

I know, i know. Bulaga & Sherrod. About Sherrod the less said the better. Bulaga is usually decent when he plays -- which is just about never.

al's picture

right but still you want the first two pics starters off the bat even if its not positions you need best player works .

Arlo's picture

“I’d be surprised if Ted Thompson doesn’t take a tackle with one of his first two picks in May.”

If that's an exact quote (And all he said), I don't see anything about OFFENSIVE Tackle. Both Pickett & Raji could be gone. Maybe he really meant DT.

doug's picture

yea, thats what I thought too. we sure could use a good, big, NT.

Jamie's picture

Not a bad observation, and possibly the most insightful post you ever have, or ever will, make. In most cases when one uses the lone word 'tackle' in naming a position, they are referring to an OT.

This is likely to do with King's lack of knowledge on the Packer's roster, and/or his penchant for 'mailing it in', as many have already surmised.

Arlo's picture

Go away, troll.

Stroh's picture

Your calling a guy who gave you a compliment, albeit backhanded, a troll! That's as good as you'll EVER get around here. You should THANK him! LMFAO

cLowNEY42's picture

Pick the best player.
Only positions that are "off limits" in the first 2 rounds are QB, RB, interior OL K, P, LS. Every other position group could use an upgrade.

TommyG's picture

Damn straight. There is zero reason to pass up on a star that drops to our pick.

RC Packer Fan's picture

I agree with you on this.

I honestly think that the 'Off Limits' should be a given for any punter/kicker/LS before the 4th round.

I agree to that just about every position could use help. Just some positions need more help then others.

Phatgzus's picture

Unless you're Al Davis of course, then it's fire away.

Icebowler's picture

NT in 1st round (hopefully Nix), S in 2nd round, & TE &/or ILB in 3rd & 4th. If we don't fill all of these positions in the 1st four rounds, we need to see what's left in free agency after the draft.

Bert's picture

Ice bowler. I wish but filling 4 poisitions in 1 draft is a wet dream. Very lucky to get 2 immediate starters from any draft. More than likely we'll get 1 guy who will make a big impact his rookie year. There will be 1 or 2 end up on IR. That's why you go BPA.

Jamie's picture

I don't think it has anything to do with Bulaga and Sherrod, rather it has to do with Peter King being myopic. He's a pretty good columnist and generally offers good takes and insights (which is generally why he's often a designated pool reporter,) but I think his views can be very superficial when it comes to assessing teams. He was swearing up and down last year that the Packers absolutely had to sign Steven Jackson.

The one guy who actually has a good understanding of all 32 teams in the NFL is Grantland's Robert Mays. I think he does a fantastic job of having a pretty deep and fully formed idea of every team in the NFL both on a macro and micro level.

Arlo's picture

You really have that 'copy & paste' down. Swear I read just about the same post at a forum recently. I'll post the link when I find it again.

William Wallace's picture

Where the fuck did Longshanks go?

Uncle Louie's picture

He's trying to find his lost Golf ball.

Jake's picture

I don't see this as far fetched at all. A lot of Packers fans are quick to defend our o-line this season and say they actually played pretty well. I feel like maybe people are wearing Packers goggles when they say this. Just because our line played better than expected or better than the year before doesn't mean it's a good line. Did anyone watch the Lions game? Or how about either of the 9er games? Line got dominated. At the end of the first 9ers game they almost sacked Rodgers with a 3 MAN RUSH!! 3!!! Our line is just smaller than the good one's in the league. Sure maybe they gave up LESS sacks than usual this year, but they still gave up more than you'd like. I'm sick of the best player in the league being hit 2-3 times more than Brady/Peyton/Brees/Kaepernick, etc.

Bert's picture

Jake. I totally agree. Our overall OL is adequate but not near the quality of many other OLs especially SF. I am not against drafting an OT early as I am not 100% convinced that Bulaga will ever stay healthy, Sherrod will ever amount to anything and Bak will be pretty good but nothing special. Given we sink or swim with Rodgers, if we get a chance to drfat an elite OT then I wouldn't complain.

Phatgzus's picture

SF's OL really isn't that good, above average-good and that's it. Denver was supposed to have one of the best OLs and they just got embarassed.
The O-line (along with the rest of the O) was terrible in the 1st Quarter vs. SF, but was pretty damn good the rest of the game.
The Thanksgiving Day Massacre was on the OL, but Flynn, and MM's playcalling sure as Hell didn't help matters.

Arlo's picture

AR just turned 30. It's estimated that AR has already been hit more than P. Manning has in his entire career. Both Manning & Brady are still playing at a high level well into their 30s because they take less punishment than AR.

AR won't get the chance to showcase his talents standing on the sidelines healing up again. Good article about this at MJS.

Phatgzus's picture

Good article and MJS are not compatible.

Hank Scorpio's picture

I wouldn't say it is far-fetched to draft an OT early. There is no doubt they were weak on the edges in 2013. And protecting Rodgers is job #1 for this organization. We saw for certain in 2013 that without Rodgers, they have no chance--if there was any doubt before. But I think there are more pressing needs with less viable current possibilities for improvement--which makes the urgency King expressed seem a bit odd.

It seems likely to me that Bulaga and Bakhtiari can solve the OT issues by returning to health and natural player development from yr 1 to yr 2. I'm not really big on Sherrod's chances but he's a former 1st rounder that really hasn't had much chance to learn how to play at the NFL level until now. So there are 3 guys, including 2 recent #1 picks, that are in play to improve the quality of play at OT.

Meanwhile, at ILB and TE, it seems unlikely to me that there is a guy on the roster than can improve areas I would call a bigger weakness than OT. I love Hyde at Safety but that position is another priority that is bigger than OT. And the Packers have not said they are moving Hyde yet. If they don't, Safety is the biggest roster concern, IMO.

So it is pretty easy for me to see them not drafting OT in rounds 1 or 2.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Could be injury concerns. More likely its because Bulaga is on the last year of his contract and Sherrod, if he blossoms, would have an expensive club option after next year. Bakhtiari did an admirable job when forced to start, but he was not a good OT. He might make the jump in his 2nd year. BTW, there are some intriguing prospects that might be available in the 3rd rd at OT.

DIZ76's picture

could be a defensive tackle, he didn't specify and that would fit a packer need. I say just pick a playmaking difference maker, no matter which side of the ball. you look at SF and they have them all over, they accumulated them over years, if you miss because you are targeting a need well you just multiplied your need next year. Look at the Rogers situation, you take that playmaker off the field and the whole team gets worse. well put another on the field, no matter where, and more pressure is put on the other team.

Bert's picture

Yes!! I agree totally. We fans get too hung up on drafting for a "need" position and would gladly pass up an All Pro OT to draft an average safety just to check a box. Come draft day the more elite teams shop for value at Tiffany's while we shop for "needs" at Walmart.

The TKstinator's picture

Except I don't think GB drafts strictly for need.
Was Justin Harrell a need position? Was Jordy Nelson? When a player pans out, regardless of position, it was a good pick. If not, then, not.
Just add good players regardless of position in the early rounds that stay healthy and produce, while uncovering some pleasant surprises in the later rounds.

Yeah, that sounds easy.

TC's picture

A great OT might help in the ground game also.
I do beleive one of the best assets to a defense is a very powerful offense.

Sportspack's picture

No problem, all of these needs will be filled with the next 5 or 6 drafts.

Bert's picture

Yeah, no kidding. That's the downside of "draft & develop". When you spring too many leaks you can't fill them in a reasonable timeframe. Basically you have a 3-4 year window before the guys you drafted and developed become FAs so once the holes start to appear they just start getting too numerous to fill with a single draft. I think a couple FAs here and there would be a big help. That's just me though.

Arlo's picture

One more season with TT calling the shots will about do it. The only way GB returns to elite status & can slip by SF/Seattle/etc. is if a younger, bolder GM (one who's not afraid to use all the tools afforded him) takes over.

Next year at this time, we'll all be talking about what the 'new' GM has to offer to return GB to elite status & salvage AR's career. I want AR in the HOF. TT is stunting that possibility.

Jamie's picture

Stuntin like your daddy?

Stuntin like your daddy?

Stuntin like your daddy?

Or stuntin like your methhead momma??

Arlo's picture

You're an embarrassment to all Packer fans (if you are actually a Packer Fan). ---I say again.

Go away, troll.

Phatgzus's picture

"You're black, Kettle," says the pot.

fish and crane's picture

Tebow>Cow>Arlo

Phatgzus's picture

So you're saying Honky Football Jesus is better than the Bemoaning Bovine and El Arlamo? I'll buy that.

Phatgzus's picture

If Aaron Rodgers wants to get into the HoF maybe he should play better at Lambeau in the Playoffs.

Ron from ct's picture

You people who thing we can just go out and get free agents get in the real world the packers cap numbers won't allow it, we still have to pay are free agents plus a lot of players don't want to play in -10 weather

Bert's picture

Bunch of damn fools if you ask me.

HUMP's picture

JAMES HURST OT NORTH CAROLINA 4TH RD WOULD MAKE ME AS HAPPY AS RANDALL COBB DID IN THE 2ND RD>>>>>A PURE STEAL!!!! HURST IS PURE 1ST RD TALENT WHO BLEW OUT KNEE THIS YEAR

Albert Lingerfeld's picture

What other road would they be on. Common these guys know what kind of shape they need to be in for competitive football. If they are working hard to get to that point fine.
As an aside I was somewhat puzzled on how long Sherrods (yes it was a very bad injury) took to heel. Just guessing that they were expecting him back and in shape a lot sooner than what it ended up being.

Stroh's picture

Dude you need to learn a little about the Packers!

Mike Flanagan (do you even know who he is) had the same injury as Sherrod. Broke both bones in his lower leg in the preseason his rookie year. He didn't play a single game his 1st 2 years in the NFL, and appeared in only 2 games his 3rd season. Sherrod is right on track considering the severity of his injury. With a little luck we'll see him starting next year.

Evan's picture

King says OT. Now today's SI.com mock has the Packers taking a CB (Gilbert).

I just don't get the logic - especially not with guys like Pryor, Hageman and Amaro still on the hypothetical board.

HUMP's picture

basiclly there is a couple scenarios. we have about 20 mil per yr allocated to our starting d backs, this means...1) let shields walk and draft gilbert or dennard and pay 3mil yr,pay tramon 8mil yr,burnett 6mil yr and sign mid price safety(malcom jenkins?) 4mil yr = 21 mil yr.... or my favorite... draft gilbert 3mil yr,pay shields 5yr 40mil at 8mil yr,get the real fkn deal and sign jarius byrd or tj ward 5yr 40mil at 8mil yr and tell burnett to restructure and take what he's worth 2mil yr or if he wont,move hyde to safety at 500k yr and that puts us under budget at 19.5mil yr and gives us a young and frkn aggressive secondary for the next 5yrs!!! or in reality what will happen is........... thompson will overpay williams 8mil yr,overpay burnett 6mil yr,wont be able to afford shields and will have hayward leave his best position and struggle outside at 1mil yr and will tender jennings for 1mil yr which equals 16 mil pr yr. THUS THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>we can have a domanating secondary for the next 5yrs for 21 mil yearly or WE CAN HAVE THE SAME HORSESHIT AS USUAL FOR 16MIL YEARLY IM OUT!!

Stroh's picture

Your "out" alright... "OUT" of your F'in MIND!!!

HUMP's picture

a secondary of shields...byrd...gilbert...burnett or hyde isnt quality enough for us for an extra 5 mil yr? compared to what we got?

PadLevel's picture

Talent is not the issue, coaching the Oline is. Even if we get a solid tackle like Joe Staley, our Oline coach Jim Campen will be sure to screw up his mechanics. Giacomini is exhibit #1 for this. Dude was terrible with us, almost got Rodgers killed and ended up as the starting Right Tackle for the superbowl champions for Seahawks. I would rather Teddy T finds decent O linemen in later rounds and go for skill positions (TE, CB) in first three rounds

WKUPackFan's picture

Just because Giacomini starts for Seattle doesn't mean he's that good. He's not considered as one of their best Olinemen, and Seattle's line is probably middle of the road at best.

Campen has taken a lot of heat over the years, some of it probably justified. However, Sitton, Lang, EDS, and Wells have played well overall, and Buluga functioned well as a rookie.

PadLevel's picture

If he's good enough for a super bowl champion team to start him at RT in the superbowl game, he is good, period. In any other team, Campen would have long been fired. This is the big issue with McCarthy, he "sticks to his plan" no matter what. You can see this in his game calling as well. It takes him late into 2Q of a game to realize that the game plan he had worked on all week is not working. Wish he learned a bit from Belichick and Bruce Arians on that.

Evan's picture

"If he’s good enough for a super bowl champion team to start him at RT in the superbowl game, he is good, period."

An insane argument.

PadLevel's picture

Care to get off your high horse and elaborate?

Evan's picture

Ha. I can elaborate from up here.

My point is that simply starting in the Super Bowl does not automatically mean a player is "good."

Frank Zombo started for the Packers in 2010. As did Daryn Colledge and CJ Wilson. Oh, and Charlie Peprah.

Every Super Bowl team has weak links.

Sportspack's picture

I agree with Arlo, Bert, and Hump and a seeing- eye dog would would help the blind guy. How about the nut who trys to act like he is an intellectual? Wow~!

inFact's picture

King is a fine writer, but he probably could NOT tell you Sherrod and Bulaga are expected to return 100% by training camp as the most likely starters at RT....with Sherrod a long shot and hanging by a spider thread to a position on the 53 unless he shows up in preseason games....Bulaga is the default RT and Bakhitiari showed enough prowess as a rookie to believe he'll again win the LT position.

That leaves S, OLB or TE as the most likely 1st pick.

Stroh's picture

I would say Sherrod is a virtual lock for a roster spot. The Packers aren't going to release an OT w/ his ability as a pass blocker before they even get a good gauge about his talent and ability. Lets remember he was a 1st rd choice for a reason. He is a tailor made LT for the NFL and if they Packers don't give him a chance to show what he can do there are ALOT of teams in need of a LT to groom into a starter.

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