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Point of Veau: An Offseason in NFL Weight Room Should Do David Bakhtiari Wonders

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Point of Veau: An Offseason in NFL Weight Room Should Do David Bakhtiari Wonders

Packers offensive lineman David Bakhtiari. Photo by Brian Carriveau of CheeseheadTV.com.

When I shared on Twitter on Monday that left tackle David Bakhtiari graded out the lowest of any Packers offensive player in Sunday's win over the Dallas Cowboys, according to ProFootballFocus.com, fans were in disbelief (just look at the responses).

After all, this is the player that just stoned seven-time Pro Bowler DeMarcus Ware to the tune of just one tackle and no sacks.

Granted, Bakhtiari didn't line up across from Ware on every play, but he did for a majority of the game. And doubly granted, Ware appears to be wearing down at 31 years old after switching to end in a new defensive system in 2013.

Still, Bakhtiari held his own and has for most of the season.

At the very least, Bakhtiari is a candidate for the NFL's All-Rookie team after playing nearly every snap of every game this season, missing only three plays against Washington in Week 2.

The reason why he graded out so low against the Cowboys, however, was his run blocking.

Of of his 141 total rushing yards, running back Eddie Lacy gained only 25 to the inside and outside shoulder of Bakhtiari.

Gaining traction in the running game has been a season-long issue for the Packers offensive lineman.

Out of 78 NFL tackles who have played at least 25 percent of their team's offensive plays, Bakhtiari ranks dead last, 78th, with a cumulative run block rating of negative-17.2, per Pro Football Focus.

But in today's day and age, left tackles in the NFL have become more valuable for what they're able to do in pass protection, guarding the quarterback's blind side. In that regard, Bakhtiari has been worth his weight in gold.

Bakhtiari is responsible for allowing eight sacks this season (again, per PFF), although four of them came in the first four games of the season and five came in just two games (two against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1 and three to the Detroit Lions in Week 13).

The rookie would seem to have a high ceiling because of his lateral foot quickness and tenacity not to give up on plays.

Bakhtiari's relative weakness appears to be in functional strength, with evidence perhaps pointing to his matchup against Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings in Week 12. On several occasions,  the Packers rookie offensive lineman was pushed backwards almost into the quarterback, but Bakhtiari was always able to keep himself in front of the defender.

With an offseason in an NFL weight room under the tutelage of a professional strength and conditioning staff and little else on which to focus, Bakhtiari should be able to make strides and be even better in the future.

Adding more functional and core strength should aid in Bakhtiari being able to fill out his frame, anchor in pass protection and get better push in the running game.

One difficult decision the Packers will have to make in the offseason is what to do with Bakhtiari and fellow tackle Brian Bulaga, who's recovering from a torn ACL suffered in training camp.

The Packers went out on a limb to switch Bulaga from the right side to the left side of the offensive line before the 2013 season began, so reversing course would show their commitment to developing Bakhtiari.

It makes sense that former first round draft choice Derek Sherrod would also be part of the equation and be even better equipped to compete for a job one more season removed from his gruesome broken leg, originally sustained in 2011.

The focus for now, though, is preparing Bakhtiari and coaching him up to the fullest extent possible for the rest of the season.

Next season will come when it comes, and when it does, Bakhtiari figures to be a front runner for a position in the starting lineup, wherever and against whomever that might be.

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (61) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

nikko's picture

I think the best solution is to move DB over to RT, allow Bulaga to take over LT again, and make Derrick Sherrod the 6th man on the line allowing him to compete for the RT position in training camp while giving him some experience at guard. Something tells me if Sherrod has a future in the league it is at guard.

And cut Newhouse for God's sake!

Evan's picture

Newhouse is a free agent.

I'm really torn on how the line will shake out next year. My gut says to not mess with what's not broken and leave Bak where he is.

Bulaga is probably the best OT on the roster, but he's also barely played LT in the NFL (if ever). I think keeping them both where they've excelled makes the most sense.

Idiot Fan's picture

I tend to agree. And if that works out well, then we can play Sherrod where we all know makes the most sense: safety.

ted, of bill and ted's picture

+1

Brian Lee's picture

LMAO!

Morgan Mundane's picture

This O line is a big piece of crap. Beluga, can't count on him after 1.5 seasons off, Sherrod wasn't very good when he was healthy, and Newhouse is a big waste of time, Barclay always in leg braces, and Sitton is a neanderthal.

I will say I think they player way over their heads considering but hey, I'm pissed we wasted two picks in the first and second on quality O linemen. If I'm right, Rogers does not get hurt. We are 9-4 now.

Darrin's picture

'Beluga' is a whale species if not mistaken. 'Bulaga' is an NFL player. Big difference between the two. Sitton is more of a Cro-Magnon than Neanderthal. His brow isn't as pronounced.

Morgan Mundane's picture

I love calling him that because he was one of my favorites. I'm giving him the benefit but hey, you crash and burn on family night? And were supposed to assume he's coming back to form after 1.5 seasons lost?
Sorry but I hate to say this but the guy may be fragile as crystal. and if I'm, right, partially right, we dam well better be preparing for it in the draft, a top O line man in round one and two.

fn_cold_ak's picture

bunch of belugas off the coast of alaska here, he does look alot like em sorry

Phatgzus's picture

Sitton's our best OL; Bulaga is a far better run-blocker than Bak-T so putting him at RT seems logical.

chris k's picture

What????? DS @ guard lolololol

Evan's picture

Yeah...they've been down that path before. Sherrod is a tackle.

Tarynfor12's picture

Trying to figure out who will play where on the O-Line next season may be like watching the con man on the street daring you to pick where the Ace is in the three card scam game.

D B H's picture

Ha! I wonder that too - are we bursting with talent, or trying to select one average Joe from another?

I do think if you watch other teams, DBakh would be an upgrade for many and we should count ourselves lucky to have an adequate fill-in for Bulaga this year.

PackerPete's picture

I think Bakhtiari will be better at LT than Bulaga. I do think that Sherrod and Bakhtiari will battle it out at LT.
People say that Bulaga is the best Packers OL, I just didn't see it that way in the past.

Evan's picture

"People say that Bulaga is the best Packers OL, I just didn’t see it that way in the past."

OL, no. That's Sitton. But OT, yeah.

PackerPete's picture

Actually McCarthy said that also. I agree that Sitton is the best OL, with Lang a close second. But I'm not so sure that Bulaga is the best OT. Still holding out hope that Sherrod will play up to his abilities. And Bakhtiari may be better as well, just give him one more offseason. Purely subjective, I just was never a big Bulaga fan.

CtSharpeCheddar's picture

Bak has faster footwork.Weight gain is needed.They should have the players to make this line much better

BradHTX's picture

Well, it's been hard for Bulaga to be the best when he's spent a lot of his time on IR.

Does he have the potential to be the best? Sure, maybe. Has he proven himself to be reliable on the field? Yes. But has he proven himself to be reliably ON the field? Nope, and that may be his ultimate undoing -- being injury-prone.

If Sherrod does develop into a reliable starter, Packers may be best to move on from Bulaga.

Archie's picture

DB = Packer's LT for next decade.
Bulaga = RT for one more year and contract expires.
Sherrod = swing OT in 2014, possibly replacing Bulaga in 2015 or earlier if he suffers yet another season ending injury. Long-term, Pack will keep Bulaga or Sherrod, not both. Can't afford to pay a back-up R1 pick money.

Derek in CO's picture

Funny how a guy 6'4" and 300 lbs needs to "fill out his frame", but probably true. I think Bakhtiari could stay at LT and have Bulaga play RT. Barclay should be a backup to those guys.

Evan's picture

Barclay should be backup OG and OT only in an emergency. I see Sherrod as backup OT, Tretter backup C/OG and Barclay a game day inactive.

But there will likely be new rookies next year too.

Ron from ct's picture

I think Bakhtiari is going to be the LT for the Packers for next 10 years Bulaga will play RT

Lou's picture

If McCarthy sticks to his "best 5 offensive lineman" theory it is impossible now to project who the starters will be in 2014. Bulaga is coming off 2 MAJOR injuries back to back (Hip - ACL)so it is not logical to assume he is a starter at either tackle position (and I still wonder if favoring the hip lead to the ACL because he didn't go down in a heap). EDS's contract situation also clouds the center position being projected. Both guards assuming no major injury the rest of 2013 can be penciled in as 2014 starters and that is basically all one can project at this time (opportunity for GVR and Tretter if EDS leaves). Newhouse will probably be with another team and what everyone is forgetting is you cannot count our Don Barclay, he may be Tauchser the 2nd and play RT for 10 years. Lastly there is a reason they kept Lane Taylor on the 53 lets not forget him either.

Morgan Mundane's picture

The O line sucks. A very patched up oft injured group of players and Bulaga you can't rely on him anymore. I mean for gosh sakes he takes himself out in a family night game? Put a fork in him he is DONE. Sherrod, DONE. Newhouse WAY DONE.

You cannoit fix this mess in one draft or two. The D line is a total mess as mess and we have no dbacks.

Stroh's picture

Your a total ignoramous!

Morgan Mundane's picture

Bt the way Stroh, now the Packers destiny is in their hands not last week you moron

Brian's picture

What a bright ray of sunshine! Yes, the line is patched together because of Bulaga, Sherrod, and even Tretter's injuries. How quickly we forget Mike Flanigan's similar injury to Sherrod and the difficult recovery. If the O-line catches a break for a year and isn't seriously injured, it could be above average. I am more concerned on the defensive side of the ball.

Runninbare's picture

Morgan, why dont' you bury your head under a pillow. This team has done surprisingly well considering it is the team with the second most injuries to starters.

Al's picture

Actually I think this OL has potential to be among the best in the league. Sitton, Lang, Bulaga, Bahktiara are guys who can only get better. Sherrod has potential and EDS looks solid. What more can you ask for?

Morgan Mundane's picture

This guy was 4th round or 5th round for a reason. Why not first round? What's wrong with him not be in the second round?
I put my faith in these football anaylyst and guys who spend their lives on the road assessing talent and evaluating players.
If they had him 5th round there is a good reason.
Superbowl teams need first rounders and second rounders to protect the franchise.
Ok, you and your spouse have seat belts on and your precious child has air bags and a safety seat for extra protection, so why do we want 5th rounders to protect your baby, Rogers?

Sir Cheese's picture

Bak was at a small school with little film on him to get a proper grade. Why did Arian Foster go undrafted? Driver in the 7th? Lacy fell to almost the 3rd. The point is draft grades aren't flawless, and TT is great at finding value in the later rounds.

bdhustle's picture

DB played 3 years at Colorado - not a small school. First year at RT and 2 years at LT. Colorado was really a bad team when he was there which probably affected his draft position. Since he came out a year early he was evaluated by NFL draft advisory board. Supposedly was given a third round rating.

Assuming Bulaga returns healthy and without a drop off in his play and EDS is resigned best line likely is Bulaga, Lang, EDS, Sitton, Bahktiari, right to left. Bulaga has proven that he is a good RT. DB has shown considerable promise at LT. His feet and lateral movement seem better than Bulaga's. Also has more prototypical arm length for LT, if you put any value in that measurable.

Weakest link would seem to be EDS. Competition at center or replacement if EDS is not signed would include Tretter, Van Roten, Lane Taylor.

Assuming the starting OL noted above backups would likely be Sherrod at OT, Barclay at OG/OT and Tretter at C/OG.

Without using a high draft choice on the OL improvmeent should result from Bulaga replacing Barclay at RT. Sherrod replacing Marshall as backup OT. Barclay being backup at OG and 4th OT. Tretter as backup center. Having a true backup center on roster as well as a backup (Barclay) who could conceivably cover 4 positions would prevent double and triple switches along the line which results in several players adjusting to a new position. Improvement from within is very likely.

thedon's picture

Remember Alex Smith went ahead of Rodgers. No one would trade trade Rodgers for Smith straight up.

Norman's picture

I'll bet the Chiefs would!

Ron from ct's picture

You can't be a packer fan Morgan

lebowski's picture

add him to the list of those we're better off just ignoring

RC Packer Fan's picture

Your correct. best to ignore Morgan...

Barutan Seijin's picture

Indeed. A Packer fan must be positive about the team and its players & staff at all times.

Pass the Kool-Aid.

The TKstinator's picture

I'd rather pass the gas.

RC Packer Fan's picture

HE/She is not a fan. Morgan comes to every chat board to start something.

Derek in CO's picture

Morgan is right, our OLine sucks, a 1000 yard rusher in 13 games? Pathetic.

The TKstinator's picture

I think it's kinda fun to project this stuff.
I also think it's kinda fun to consider that no matter how it shakes out, this appears to be a more talented group overall than GB has had in a long time; guys WINNING jobs rather than getting shoved in there because that's all the Packers have (cough, Newhouse, cough).

Stroh's picture

Its funny... Bahktiari is worst it seems than Newhouse run blocking and is maybe a Little better pass blocking and everyone wants Newhouse out of the NFL and are proclaiming Bahktiari the LT for the next decade! I've been trying to tell you guys that he isn't nearly as good as most of you make him out to be! He's got a long ways to go to become a good starter in the NFL at OT, much less at LT. He's done decently for a rookie, and I give him credit for that, but he is really only slightly better than Newhouse.

Bahktiari and Bulaga tested almost identical at the combine in quickness and Bulaga has better size. On the flip side, Newhouse and Sherrod tested nearly equal and quite a bit better than both Bulaga or Bahktiari.

Sherrod will be given EVERY opportunity to be the starter ahead of Bahktiari given his better overall talent and upside. If a competition is even close it'll go to Sherrod, being that he was a 1st rd pick and Bahktiari a 4th.

Ideal OL next year Left to right... Sherrod, Sitton, EDS, Lang, Bulaga. Easily our best, most talented OL for the future. Bahktiari is the backup swing OT, w/ Barclay and Tretter inside backups. Bahktiari's best position in the NFL might still be OG. His size and lack of top athleticism might fit best at OG.

People seem to forget that Sherrod was All Conference in the SEC and has ideal measurables and size for a LT. He had a terrific Sr season in college and got better every year at MSU. Just a matter of how he recovers from the horrific injury. Its by no means a certainty he will, but I would say its likely.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Bakhtiari probably isn't as good as what a lot of us think he is.
I am not sure how Pro Football Focus grades their players, but his grade is very low according to them.

That being said, my eyes are telling me differently. When I factor in he is a rookie 4th round pick, and he has started every game, I thought he has held up well. And I do feel like he is only going to get better.

I think a year in the weight room we will see Bakhtiari really improve.

Next year, I really think it will be a competition between Sherrod and Bakhtiari at LT. I think Bulaga will move back to RT.

I agree with you stroh about the line except I'm not going to anoint Sherrod the starter at LT. I will say Sherrod/Bakhtiari, Sitton, EDS, Lang, Bulaga would be our starters. With Sherrod or Bakhtiari being the top backup swing T. Barclay backup G,RT, Tretter backup C/G. and they will add a draft pick.

I really like the future of our OL. This seems to be potentially the deepest group we have had in years.

Evan's picture

I know you've said this many many times, but I just really don't think draft position will factor into who starts next season at all.

If it's close between Bak and Sherrod, I imagine Bak will get the nod because of his year of actual experience.

Stroh's picture

You think they wouls sit a 1st rd pick in an even competition for a 4th rd pick? Sorry I think that foolish they'll play the one they have more invested in, guaranteed.

Evan's picture

I think they play who gives them the best chance of winning, regardless of draft position. If it's even, experience wins out.

Stroh's picture

If its even the one who the invested the most in and is paid the most will be given the job. Sherrod has been invested in heavily for the past 3 years and a 1st rd pick too boot. Sherrod would start if its even.

Evan's picture

Agree to disagree, I guess.

Morgan Mundane's picture

If I recall correctly Sherrod prior to his injury was in and out of the line up because HE COULD NOT FREEKIN LEARN THE POSITION AND MCCARTHY WAS VERY FRUSTRATED AS TO HOW MUCH COACHING DOES IT TAKE TO GET THIS STRAIGHT. Then the broken leg and two years to heal???????? Please, he came back so fat and out of shape he couldn't play. I have X's him out as a useless piece of __________.

Brian's picture

+1

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I agree with Stroh. Bulaga should be the ROT. While I think he can play LOT, he has not done so at the NFL level and is a proven ROT. Sherrod and Bakhtiari battle for the LOT. Lang and Sitton at guard. Re-sign (and probably have to overpay) EDS at center. Truth is (IMO) that Bakhtiari is only somewhat better than Newhouse, but at least has the potential with a year of strength work to become much better, and he usually doesn't completely whiff like Newhouse was prone to do. I don't like the comments penciling in Tretter as the back-up center or worse seriously vying to be the starting center. He's a rookie. He hasn't played in the NFL.

If memory serves, Sherrod, despite ideal size, strength and arm length, was regarded as a finesse player whose strength was pass blocking. His run blocking was adequate. That is, similar to Clifton. Of course, either or both Sherrod and Bakhtiari could improve their run blocking over time.

If Bulaga and Sherrod win the tackle jobs, it should be noted that both would be in the last year of their contracts, although GB has a club option on Sherrod at the average of the 3rd thru 25th highest paid players at his position for 2015. I crunched the number using overthecap.com, that works out to $7.18 million per year for all tackles, and to $6.65 million per year for just left tackles based on 2013 salaries. The club option is not so good: the option is worth the salary of the 13th highest paid LOT. sherrod's play would have to be darn good to justify picking up the option, and if GB fails to do so, he becomes a FA. Of course, an extension would be likely.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I can't find whether the 3rd to 25 highest paid means average per year, cap number, or something else. If it is cap number, then for all tackles, Sherrod's club option for LOTs based on 2013 numbers would be $4.99 million and for all tackles it would be $6.22 million. In any event the club option for tackles pays a lot.

Joe's picture

Have to agree with Stroh but I feel Lane Taylor will have a say along with Barclay and Tretter

Zub's picture

The other major factor is the salary cap. TT will be looking not only for this year but the next year as well. Bulaga and Sherrod will be expensive compared to the Packs current starting tackles

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

That's what I was getting at, Zub. GB will have to factor in the salary cap in deciding upon their starting tackles, not next year but the year after that. If the line is Sherrod, Sitton, EDS, Lang & Bulaga, that would mean both tackles & both guards playing on their 2nd contracts, with EDS re-signed as a FA at center. A VERY EXPENSIVE o-line.

If draft position is decisive, then TT isn't doing his job. Has to be based on production vs. salary cap number with future potential factored in. To live with the salary cap, teams NEED to have starters playing on the rookie contract in years 2, 3 and 4.

Lucky953's picture

I agree with Brian. A year of pro level weight training and the expected jump in understanding will help Bahktiari firmly establish himself as the Packers starting left tackle. He came out as a junior from a mediocre program. He's got the mental disposition to stick at the position. Sherrod just hasn't shown anything, because of injury, slow start, etc. Maybe he will. I hope so, but Bahktiari looks like a guy who's determined to be a starter, not just collect an NFL paycheck.

Morgan Mundane's picture

We can all say poor batiari he was thrown into this situationk, poor him.
I look at Kahil of the Vikings. Another rookie who was thrown into starting and made the pro bowl and is one of the best O linemen in football. My point: Ted there is a huge diff between a low number one and a 4th and 5th rounder and all the practice and coaching won't help.
Kahill contributed on day one and continues to contribute.Under Ted's system these guys may never contribute at the level you need and you've spent time and money learning you screwed up. We have a lot of what if's on this team.

Stroh's picture

Your a fucking fool! Kalil was drafted #4 overall while Bahktiari was in the 4th rd about 120th overall. Just go away you fucking troll!!!

Phatgzus's picture

Kalil also regressed this year you sad Vikings fan.

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