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Point Of Veau: Sherrod Is The Left Tackle Of The Future

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Point Of Veau: Sherrod Is The Left Tackle Of The Future

By now you've probably already heard or read new Packers first-round draft choice Derek Sherrod mention that he's comfortable playing either right or left tackle.

"I played both positions at my career at Mississippi State, and I'm ready to go and be versatile and flip around at each position, whichever one they want me at," Sherrod told media in a conference call last night.

And you've probably seen that general manager Ted Thompson and offensive coordinator Joe Philbin won't commit to saying where their newest member of the team will fit along the offensive line.

"Where he's going to play, I don't know," said Thompson in the immediate aftermath of the selection.

Many people thought the Packers selected the left tackle of the future last year in Bryan Bulaga.

Cancel those thoughts.

Barring a flop, Sherrod will be protecting Aaron Rodgers' backside for the next decade once Chad Clifton retires.

There's always the chance Sherrod will be a bust. He's not alone in that regard. The NFL Draft is a crap shoot. Every player has the chance of being a bust.

But as long as he doesn't fizzle out, you can pencil in Sherrod at left tackle in the long-term plans of the franchise.

What that means for Bulaga is that he's going to be staying at right tackle for the foreseeable future. That's a position in which he found success late last season and probably is his ideal fit going forward.

Sherrod's strength is his athleticism. He's ideally suited to taking on the speed rushers of the NFL off the edge, which has more value on quick, left side of the line as opposed to the strong, right side.

Everyone learned their lesson how overrated arm length can be last year when it was learned Bulaga had 33 1/4 inch arms, a little on the small side as far as offensive tackles go.

Bulaga had a solid rookie season and those concerns were put to rest. But still, Sherrod has the more ideal wingspan with arms more than two inches longer than Bulaga at 35 3/8 inches.

That's not to say Bulaga can't play left tackle. What it is saying is that Sherrod is a better fit for the left side, especially when you factor in his athletcism to be able to mirror pass rushers and get to the second level in the run game.

Where Sherrod will factor into the short-range plans of the Packers remains to be seen.

Clifton is the incumbent at left tackle and will be the starter there until it's proven otherwise.

Without a doubt, Sherrod will play left tackle at next weekend's rookie orientation camp. And he'll be the second-string left tackle throughout OTAs and minicamp as long as Clifton is healthy.

He'll still get plenty of reps with the first string, however. Clifton has been known to need the occasional day off to rest his balky knees and weary joints.

But if and when training camp rolls around this summer and a guy like Daryn Colledge, T.J. Lang or Nick McDonald hasn't seized the starting job at left guard, maybe Sherrod will be thrown into the mix just because he'd be one of the five best players on the offensive line.

Don't plan on that until July at the earliest, though. In the meantime, Sherrod will be learning the tricks of the trade as Clifton's apprentice.

And if Sherrod happens to flop, the Packers still have Bulaga as a left tackle in their back pocket. Lang too. Those are some pretty good insurance policies.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (26) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Chad Toporski's picture

This was a great value pick for the Packers at 32. It was the best player available and it filled a big need along the line. As you said, if he doesn't flop, he will be the short-term insurance to Clifton and the long-term answer to take over.

To me, this kind of makes filling the left guard position a little less of a burden, and Sherrod will have time to learn and integrate himself into the system.

BubbaOne's picture

Agree w/ both of you. It gives MM a lot of options. Also don't forget Newhouse in the mix, maybe he's one of the OT's and Bulaga moves to LG again.

Bottom line I love the flexibilty it creates.

hyperRevue's picture

I still like TJ Lang's potential at LG. But if they're able to get John Moffitt in the 2nd or 3rd, he'd be a great addition to the line.

lars's picture

TJ Lang did not play well last year, not well at all. Go back and review the second Detroit game after Colledge went down with injury. I'd rather resign Colledge or as you said draft a guy who can compete with an NFL-caliber DLine.

Billy Joel's picture

Remember he had a wrist injury that kept him out much of training camp. The reps at LG were split between Colledge and Bulaga. Clifton misses so much practice, its hard to gel with him. So your basing his performance on one half against a premier DT in the league. A little unfair dont you think? Then he played some defensive tackle too.

@steve99schu's picture

Back-to-back first round OL getting Super Bowl rings!

MarkinMadison's picture

I think you're right in that Sherrod will be the 2nd string LT going into this season. It would not make sense to move Bulaga out of RT and have him sit behind Clifton waiting for him to slip or get injured, and hoping that Sherrod would be the RT as a rookie. But I could easily see a scenario where Clifton gets hurt, and the Packers opt to put Bulaga on the blind side as the more proven of the two, and let Sherrod take over the right. And in the long run, I think its too soon to label Sherrod as relatively better than Bulaga at LT.

Looking over the various scouting reports last night, they seem to be all over the board on Sherrod. Some scouts criticized his ability to block in space. Also, the Packers OL coach talked about how great he was at getting to his second level blocks against Alabama. With Miss. St. having a ground-oriendted attack, and with Sherrod out-weighing Bulaga by a good 10 pounds or more, you could see Sherrod develop as a better RT prospect than Bulaga. I definitely think Sherrod has more potential to add bulk and strength than Bulaga, just looking at their frames and where Sherrod is at in his physical development.

So I'm just not sold yet. Assuming that Sherrod is not a bust (and I really think that he was a very safe pick that way), he could end up on either side. I think it may take two years for the Packers to sort out LT and RT for the future. Let's see how camp goes, and how many reps he gets on the right side.

D B H's picture

Everybody is writing Sherrod in as the LT of the future. Sure, that's the sexy thing to do the day after the draft, but I don't think this means anything about how they feel about Bulaga.

Bulaga was drafted at 23 to be a starting tackle in the long term. There are *two* tackle spots, and McCarthy has said he wants two pass-blocking LT types to keep Rodgers alive while they contiue to run their spread-type plays. Sherrod fits the bill, and based on how he and Bulaga play at RT/LT/LG with the other options - you know the coaches will try all possible combinations at some point - they will figure out where these guys fit best in the long haul.

I wonder how much the Barbre experiment in early 2009 played into this pick...

PackersRS's picture

The difference between LT is RT is that the RT usually has TE assistance, and the LT protects the blind side.

The thing is, we play so much shotgun, that the difference is nulled. There TE won't block much, that if he is aligned close to the RT. Plus, the QB is seeing the pressure, there isn't a blind side.

In the Packers' scheme, the RT is almost equal to the LT.

Brian Carriveau's picture

The LT does protect Aaron Rodgers' blindside, though.

PackersRS's picture

There's no blindside in the shotgun, that's my point.
He'll be eyeing the rushers from the start.

D B H's picture

Exactly!

My point here is that the people writing down Brian Bulaga's value as a result of this pick are premature in assuming he is no longer the LT of the future. This pick simply means that there will likely be competition for the LT spot, and whoever loses will provide a high quality RT

Chad Toporski's picture

I don't even think it's a win/lost type situation. It's more of a "who does best in which position" question.

bigfog's picture

Reminds me of the Verba pick when Green Bay won the Superbowl. Here's hoping that it turns out better for them.

Also, nice use of the word "Veau" there Brian, you clever guy you.

CJ in Guatemala's picture

Haha that's awesome, I didn't notice at first... bad reader I am indeed.

Well played Mr. Space Ghost ^^

hyperRevue's picture

What are people looking for today?

I'm hoping OLB and WR. Maybe DL.

Rich Beckman's picture

Great pick in my book!

JohnRehor's picture

Excellent value pick at the end of the 1st.

The bookends on the o line for the next 10 years: Bulaga and Sherrod, taken in consecutive years.

Well done Ted.

lars's picture

I remember McCarthy saying that he doesn't view at as LT/RT in the conventional sense, but rather as having two LEFT tackles. So, the whole L/R thing is becoming passe' in this pass-first league.

That said, I agree that they may view Sherrod as Clifton's back-up this year and eventual successor at LT. Bulaga is already set on the right side as Mark Tauscher's successor. Sherrod has the size, arm length and pass protection ability to play AR's blind side. He gave up zero sacks his last two years in college in the SEC.

Certainly, he's a much better option than watching TJ Lang or some developmental prospect get destroyed if/when Clifton get hurt as we've seen in past years. Good pick!

CJ in Guatemala's picture

"He gave up zero sacks his last two years in college in the SEC."

Wow that is an amazing stat in a very competitive division (from what little I know about NCAA football)

packsmack25's picture

This is the luxury you have when you assemble a team through the draft the way Ted does. An already LOADED team - which will be improved next year simply due to recovery from injuries - gets even better going forward simply by letting a good player fall to them.

Contrast that against the Vikings approach - where they have traded away picks and spent exorbitant amounts on free agency - and you see why they had to make a questionable pick at QB WAYYYYYYYYYYYY too early.

bomdad's picture

You know McCarthy wants ability to flip the tackles around just to mess with the coaches and players on the other side. Pass rushers are usually one trick ponies, and they watch film for one particular opponent so they can use to their advantage. Now they have to look at two player with different styles.

ILpackfan's picture

I think TT did very well last night with his pick. In TT we trust

asshalo's picture

I would agree. I think it's very possible Bulaga could be left guard now, but I can see him being dominant there too.

Oppy's picture

Watch clips of Sherrod in action; I don't remember the last time the Packers had a left tackle who was as quick and fluid as Sherrod. I don't remember a LT with that wide of a base, either.

If he can further hone his gait by taking cues from Clifton (whose footwork and pad level are amazing) Sherrod could be more than a good LT.

Pack Attack's picture

Bulaga to left guard is the best move.

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