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Playing Devil's Advocate: Run Game Gets No Help

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Playing Devil's Advocate: Run Game Gets No Help

There's a lot to be optimistic about with new Packers first-round draft choice Derek Sherrod.

He's an athletic offensive lineman that supposedly didn't give up a single sack his junior or senior seasons in the uber-competitive SEC.

He's an individual of outstanding character.

And he might be the long-term replacement to Chad Clifton at left tackle.

But of the things Sherrod purportedly is not is a great run blocker.

According to Sports Illustrated draft expert Tony Pauline, he wrote of Sherrod's "negative" qualities at DraftInsider.net, "Possesses average strength at the point of attack and struggles to finish off opponents. Much better pass protector than run blocker."

A similar analysis comes from the National Football Post, presumably from draft guru Wes Bunting.

Sherrod's scouting report states, "Looks natural on the move, is quickly able to get out of the second level, drop his pad level and hit a moving target. But isn't overly dominant on contact.

"Allows defenders to work their way off his blocks and doesn't have the type of power or mental makeup to simply lock out and drive opposing linebackers into the dirt. Needs to do a better job with his hand placement on contact in the run game as well. Too often keeps his hands too low when asked to engage and can be easily swatted on at the point."

The argument can be made that by selecting Sherrod, Ted Thompson has allowed the Packers' run game to stagnate.

For a team that ranked 24th in the NFL averaging 100.4 rushing yards per game last season and tied for 25th in the league averaging 3.8 yards per carry, the Packers could use some help.

They had an opportunity to bolster the running game mere selections before they were on the clock.

When former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram slipped all the down to the 28th pick, the Packers declined to trade up and take the running back. Instead the New Orleans Saints traded forward to scoop him up.

When bruising tackle Gabe Carimi––who paved the way for Wisconsin's prolific ground game––slipped to no. 29, the Packers stayed the course. Instead the NFC North rival Chicago Bears grabbed him.

Maybe Sherrod will be better than expected.

Perhaps the tandem of Ryan Grant and James Starks will re-invigorate the Packers' lowly rushing attack.

Possibly they'll draft another offensive lineman later today that can be a road grader at left guard.

None of those are a given.

On the surface, the Packers appear to have more of the same along the offensive line. Right guard Josh Sitton is known for his prowess in the run game, but that's about it.

Chad Clifton and Daryn Colledge are pretty darn good at protecting the passer, although their game might be described as a little more finesse, as far as offensive linemen are concerned.

Colledge may leave Green Bay via free agency, but the options to replace him don't look any more appetizing. T.J. Lang, Marshall Newhouse and Nick McDonald are all possibilities, but none of them could beat out Colledge for the job a year ago.

The Packers won the Super Bowl with a bottom third run game in 2010, and there's every chance they'll be able to do so again.

But if you're looking for the downside in drafting Sherrod and not looking to trade up, there you have it.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (23) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

LED's picture

I thought it was also true that Miss. State had a good to great run game last year.

lebowski's picture

You buzzkill.

bomdad's picture

TJ Lang had a broken wrist limiting him competing for any position. Newhouse was a rookie moving in from tackle. And Bulaga was given a good portion of reps at LG.

JerseyAl's picture

"Sherrod walls and positions mostly, but he does know how to use his bulk to blow up
defenders in attempts to get movement on drive blocks. His balance and body control
really stand out on film (see 2010 Georgia and Houston games). He takes good angles to
screen and wall off and gains good movement upon contact. He also shows the ability to
be an effective cut and reach blocker when he plays with alertness (as a junior, he was
sometimes hesitant, making him look slow to engage, but is much more decisive in 2010).
He will need to add more bulk in order to gain leverage at the point of attack in the NFL,
but his frame can easily handle the additional weight. If you are looking for brute strength
and mass at this position, Sherrod might not be that fit, but if you want a nimble blocker
who plays with aggression on contact, drives his legs and gives total effort, he will be a
nice fit."

From NFL Scouting...

PackersRS's picture

THIS.

I completely disagree that Sherrod is a bad run blocker.

He's not a very good drive blocker, that's for sure.

However, for a team like us, that plays the ZBS, he's IDEAL. He's great at pulling, he's great at reaching the second level quickly. He identifies his responsability very quickly.

For what the Packers ask of their OL, we got a guy that is very good BOTH at pass and run blocking.

Paul Ott Caruth's picture

I don't put much stock in to Sports Illustrated scouting "experts." Sherrod will be fine in the scheme the Packers run. Zone blocking, as I've chronicled, does not require "road grading" ability. You can't look at players in a vacuum. You have to see how they will fit within a given team's system when it comes to the run game. If he were drafted by a gap blocking team which would require him to base and lock out on a 5 tech. weakside DE on a weakside Isolation run....well, then you have an argument. As it is, this is not an issue. Don't listen to the so called "experts" in the magazines. The majority don't have a clue. PackersRS is spot on in his analysis. This was a good value pick. I thought Carimi was better but only because of the measurables. For a 6-7 tackle he has pretty good bend and can pass set well. He handled Clayborn, Heyward, Kerrigan, etc. very well when facing them. The Bears got a nice pick as well.

hyperRevue's picture

Yeah, they were 24th in YPG last season and tied for 25th YPC. But that was with Jackson and Kuhn carrying the load.

I feel like you're really discounting the return of Grant and the potential of Starks. They're both an instant upgrade over last year.

Tony's picture

I agree here. First off, they're a pass-first team... they only run to keep defenses honest. No, they weren't good, but Kuhn and Jackson were running... I mean comon.

Grant, Starks, and maybe a late-round pick... I like that running game.

WoodyG's picture

You have to lean on MM's philosophy which is 'improvement from within' ...... Bulaga should be better in year 2 especially if he slides to LG .... Sherrod can play RT .... James Starks should be better in year two .....

Draft a speed RB today (DeMarco Murray //// Taiwan Jones) ..... Better players = better running game .....

asshalo's picture

Still hoping they can land Wisniewski out of Penn State. Probably won't fall to 64 but they do have 8 picks let

lmills's picture

If he is the heir to Clifton, he doesn't have to do much to be an upgrade in the run game. Run blocking has been Clifton's achilles heel for some time and having a younger more mobile tackle will certainly help. Plus hopefully a little coaching (Campen) will do him good. Also, Colledge never impressed me so having Lang and McDonald battle it out for LG will also, in my opinion be an upgrade. Plus Bulaga having another year under his belt will only help also. I'm predicting a better rushing attack than last year.

Cole's picture

It's been proven time and time again that you can find great backs in the middle to late rounds. In order to get ingram we would have had to trade away our second and maybe more. F that. There is a glut of talent in the second. Ingram wouldn't have even seen the field this year if we drafted him.

By the way, can someone tell me why the NFL decided to have the draft start today before half the country even gets off of work? I live in CO and I won't even be off work until the 2nd round is half way over. Those in Cali got completely screwed. NFL FAIL!

jeremy's picture

Completely agree. This draft is loaded with middle round talent at the running back position. Why on earth would TT miss an opportunity to draft a 10 to 15 year OT and second player to trade up for a RB with a bad knee and no second gear?

packsmack25's picture

James Starks doesn't need holes. Duh!

Chad Toporski's picture

Starks doesn't even need blockers. He just goes all Matrix on the defense.

hyperRevue's picture

For whatever it's worth, from CNNSI on Sherrod: "He was the best lineman last year for the SEC's best rushing attack."

Mel's picture

Who cares about a run game when you have Rodgers, Jennings, DD, Jones, Nelson, Finley, Qualess. GB hasn't had a great run game in forever!!! I will take awsome pass game over run game anyday..

davyjones's picture

Loved this pick last night, love it even more today after watching some film on him.
To my admittedly uneducated eye, he looks great in the run game and should only get better as he adds upper body strength.

Now, whadya think of TT trading up in the 2nd round? Seems like way better value here than trading up in the 1st. There appear to be quite a few guys still available that had 1st rnd grades on them by many experts. Does it make sense to move back up into the 30's to get another high quality guy?

BubbaOne's picture

Sherrod was the 6th tackle taken in round one. I predict when their rookie contracts are up he'll be in the top 2.

Nice pick TT!

Nononsense's picture

Love the pick, the only thing he really lacks is strength and that is the easiest thing to fix.

Norman's picture

When I first read this comment I thought it said the only thing he lacks is length and that is the easiest thing to fix. Thought you were being a joker!

Paul Ott Caruth's picture

This isn't he best place for this post but a great pick in the later part of the draft would be Tom Keiser. He's an OLB/DE from Stanford. 6-5 245. Could end up being the best value pick of the draft. He's not on any "expert's" radar. Played in Vic Fangio's scheme that had him put his hand on the ground as a DE and rush as an OLB in his 3-4, 3-3 packages. Pass coverage is my only concern but he's productive against the run and in the pass rush.

FITZCORE1252's picture

The GBP are a pass 1st team by design... and it just got us a SB title. As long as he can keep up his end of the bargain related to keeping #12 upright anything he offers in the run game is a bonus as far as I'm concerned.

Oh, and I'm super excited about Cobb. But even more-so about Green and what he offers as a receiver.

Couldn't be happier with the way Ted's worked his board.

GBP 4 LIFE

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