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Cory's Corner: Why Not OL In 1st Round?

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Cory's Corner: Why Not OL In 1st Round?

It goes without saying that the most important player on the Packers is quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But a whisper below him is left tackle David Bakhtiari. If Bakhtiari goes down for any length of time the Packers are in deep trouble. 

Which is why it would make sense for general manager Brian Gutekunst to sneak back up the first round into slots 16 or 17 to take Alabama tackle Jonah Williams with the second pick. Many would like the Packers to take a defensive player and one of the Iowa tight ends — T.J. Hockenson or Noah Fant — in the first round. Williams would fit perfect because he’s a versatile offensive lineman that can play either tackle position and he could also play a spell at guard when needed. Many are worried about his shorter arms, but his mechanics more than make up for his measureables. 

The Packers could still take Hockenson, who is an excellent blocker, and still move up from 30 to take Williams.

Defense has been a huge problem, however, left tackle is a lot more pressing and keeping Rodgers upright is vital for a team that needs him on the field just to give them some playoff viability. According to Pro Football Focus, Rodgers has been sacked 20 times in the last three years and has been hurried 29 times. 

The Packers haven’t done so well drafting tackles the last few years. Cole Madison never reported last season because he was dealing with the loss of former Washington State teammate Tyler Hilinski, who committed suicide on Jan. 16, 2018. Jason Spriggs was taken in the second round of 2016, but he is vastly limited and often makes mistakes. Kyle Murphy was taken in the sixth round of that same year but he cannot be counted on to fill a large role. Then it was 2013 — or the golden age of drafted offensive tackles for the Packers. Bakhtiari and J.C. Tretter were both taken in the fourth round and both remain starters. 

Every year, the Packers struggle with depth, especially on the offensive line. Granted, Bakhtiari is the best offensive lineman in the league. But the Packers also lean on him quite a bit. The 27-year-old played 1,032 snaps last season out of a total of 1,076 offensive snaps. They really need to find someone that can fill a void if and when someone goes down on the offensive line. That’s why I liked Tretter so much — his versatility made him invaluable. And it’s that versatility that will be essential if the Packers are able to draft him before the Vikings. 

Of course the Packers could use both draft picks on a defensive player and a tight end. Both picks would work but it doesn’t answer the question about keeping Rodgers upright. The only way the Packers will be able to sniff NFC North titles from now on is if the offensive line not only gets deeper, but better. There is a massive drop-off right now from the starters to the backups on the offensive line and that is a huge problem when and if a player misses significant time with injury. 

President Mark Murphy and Gutekunst spent $134 million last August to keep Rodgers in Green Bay. Now it’s time for them to make sure that he stays healthy. 

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He is also nearing completion of a master's degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (80) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

iam1955cudakid's picture

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Turophile's picture

My take is that there are three position groups that might be addressed at #12.

First is Edge rusher, the Packers could easily take another quality prospect (Ferrell, Burns, Sweat) even after picking up two good FAs there. Second is DL, someone like Wilkins, Oliver, or even Tillery, if they like him enough. Third is OL, with Jawaan Taylor, Andre Dillard and maybe even Jonah Williams as targets.

I don't see ILB (either of the Devin's) or TE (Fant, Hockenson) at #12, though many others do project them there.

It IS possible to get an OT later. Someone like Little/Risner/McGary/Scharping/Howard in the 2nd (and it is quite possible at least one of these is available in the 3rd).

It's all about how the Packers like a prospect compared to his likely draft slot, so an OT might happen at #12, #30, #44 or #75. I DO expect it to happen at one of those picks.

Old School's picture

Joe Thomas was a great left tackle. How much did he improve Clevelland? The fact of the matter is that taking an offensive lineman early in the first round has less of an impact on your team than an offensive skill position player or defensive stud.

Taking offensive linemen late in the first round is something good teams...the ones who customarily draft at the end of the round.....is kind of a luxury. Truth be told, you can usually get a very good offensive lineman later in the draft.

We have our starters for the season. We need to improve the backup situation. But not at the expense of a first round pick.

NitschkeFan's picture

Joe Thomas was not blocking for Aaron Rodgers.

I agree that in this year's draft class the top prospects (for the #12 pick) all appear to be defensive players. But somewhere at #30, #44 or #75 there will be a good value pick for OL

Coldworld's picture

My take on this is BPA. There is no one position that we have to pick in the first round thanks to the offseason maneuvering. So if OL falls as best at either pick, go for it.

As far as improving the Cleveland team of that era, I think Aaron or Brady would have been hard pushed to do so.

Dzehren's picture

Well stated. Pick OL with #30, #44 or #75. Then add 1 more in the 4th to 6th round range.

Old School's picture

Well, we agree that we can could/should get a good offensive lineman in this draft, and that we'll have a chance to do exactly that.

Also, I'd be surprised if we pick at #12, #30, #44, and #75. Gutekunst really did a nice job of moving around in the draft last year. Trading down with New Orleans and then back up again had the net effect of getting us Alexander and whatever we do with 30. That's a nice trade.

The areas we need a starter right now is at safety and ILB. We also really need a starting ready OT to take over if one of our tackles is out. But I think we can get that guy in the 2nd round, or maybe even third. We don't need to spend a first round pick on one right now.

jww061356's picture

I agree with you also, Old School. I think if one of the Devins falls to us we are a starting caliber FS away from a pretty good defense, at least on paper. I guess the thing that intrigues me about Hockenson as our 2nd pick(I think we will have to move up to g et him from 30) is the blocking he will lend to the situation. Grab a FS or slot receiver(whichever is the BPA) @ 44 and then try to get your hands on Risner, Ford, Lindstrom or Sharping @ 75.

Guam's picture

You and I have been on the same page on this issue for awhile Old School. Why spend a #1 pick on a player that won't see the field very much in his rookie year and perhaps longer. I agree with need for O-line depth and a couple of fourth round picks on the O-line would be great, but we need starting help elsewhere (S, ILB, DL) and that is what #1 picks are for.

PeteK's picture

Bulaga is somewhat injury prone and on his last leg, literally. We have bodies ,but not set a both guard positions. Williams could easily play a big part this year. I love Hock but how can we pass on a T who played against some of the best and in the biggest spotlight. The other positions are a discussion for another day.

jannes bjornson's picture

Anderson AFB. Why draft Bulaga in 2010 with the One Pick? Tauscher went down and Bulaga stepped in w/out being " developed " for 2-3 years and held the right flank as the Pack WON the SB. That's why you draft an OT in the first round. I am not really interested in watching the ice capades as Spriggs skates about the field any longer. Get the Talent and protect your franchise.

Old School's picture

I want to understand the logic here. The starter is old with an injury history, so we should draft a guy who can step in and play well right away if needed?

If this applies to the OL, why doesn't it apply to QB?

dobber's picture

I think the difference is that a really good rookie OT at least becomes that swing OT that we'd hoped Spriggs would become (and may still), or may even push Bulaga off the roster for the cap space it generates. That isn't going to happen with #12. The contract commitment at QB says that he's the guy, and that other pieces need to be placed around him to allow him to be at his best. Given the Packers current situation and the choice between investing in a rookie QB and a rookie OT to prop up depth in '19 (and looking beyond, which is a huge factor here with Bulaga's deal ending and Bakhtiari only two years away), I'd take the rookie OT...and I think one of the first-round picks will be an OT.

dobber's picture

If there's any hope for Spriggs, this will be his year to show it. He's gotten more play time, moving to a scheme that better features his athleticism, a new coaching staff that might click with him better: if it doesn't come together to allow him to be at least a credible backup in 2019, it never will. Frankly, I think it's all between the ears with him, but that's just me.

Gort's picture

I've been saying for months that the 2019 draft must be all about big uglies. Bring on the O-linemen!

Isherwood's picture

This team has way too many holes to spend what it would take to get to Jonah Williams from pick 30. Pick 17? Do you know how much it would take to get there?

Jonah also doesn’t fit our OL thresholds (not athletic enough). So trading up to get him would be going way outside our usual M.O.

It’s simply a bad idea.

PeteK's picture

I agree , I'm not moving up. I'd draft one of the top 3 T's at 12 . If they're not there I draft a different position because I still believe that Risner will be there at 30.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I agree with this. No trading up unless BG is just head over heals with a player at a big play postition.

Everybody knows that Richard Thaler won a Nobel Prize in economics and has explained exactly why you should almost never trade up.

That said I am fine draft an OL that fits the zone blocking scheme with any pick the Packers have. I just haven't read about any any top of the 1st linemen in this draft that fit a zone scheme. Risner and Bradbury are probably late 1st or 2nd round guys.

jannes bjornson's picture

I would take Cajuste over Williams. More of a beast.

nostradanus's picture

I am all about taking an Offensive Tackle in the First Round.

BUILD THE WALL!

ShooterMcGee's picture

It seems like pick 30 would be a better place to stay at and take an O-lineman. There are several like Dillard or Little that could be there. D-line and edge is the strength of this draft so I feel take best front 7 player at 12,ideally Ed Oliver, but Brian Burns or Wilkens would be ok too. The next 3 picks should be a safety, an offensive weapon, and O-lineman in no particular order. Come draft day I am sure it will be completely different which will only add excitement. Cant wait!

jannes bjornson's picture

Dillard may be the first tackle off the board. There are issues with Taylor's assessment.

Tabattttt's picture

Have they tried playing spriggs at guard since tackle hasn't been working?

PeteK's picture

Can't hurt, I always thought that it was a good idea.

ILPackerBacker's picture

Is this Cory?
You really don't know Spriggs has taken snaps at guard each and every year?

Coldworld's picture

Spriggs problem was strength. Now he has bulked up perhaps, but really wasn’t a good fit inside physically when drafted.

Christian Roussel's picture

Spriggs bulked up for last season and he was still a liability.

carlos's picture

Don’t mean to be mean, but I don’t think Spriggs can play in the NFL. I sure wish he could prove me wrong. I’ll let Gute do his thing as long as we get a good inside backer and a safety st one of the picks. I’m think of guys who can be plugged in day one.

HankScorpio's picture

Bulaga is in the last year of his contract. Taylor is no great player. They overpaid for Turner and probably won't retain him for the duration of his contract.

Like every position you can name, OL draft choices don't contribute much as rookies. So getting ahead of the curve is the way to go in the draft. I approve of drafting OL early.

jannes bjornson's picture

Clifton, Tauscher, Bhaktiari, Bulaga....Lindsley....

stockholder's picture

I don't approve of any Offensive player @12. Once you go offense you won't stop. The defense will hang by a thread and injury. We just have to stop that. What the heck did the Capers years teach us? HOW LONG DO YOU WANT ARRON RODGERS TO HANG ON TO THE BALL AGAIN? WE Got good OLs in the 2nd and third rds. And that is exactly what the packers have to do. What OT is really going to start. The draft is about getting starters. Not Depth. Williams won't start! We invested two picks in Spriggs. For What? He's still behind someone! It will be the same with any Offensive player. The Packers must not waste the @12 pick. They must get a starter. And that position is Wilkersons. The packers need a Future at TE. If Fant isn't there. Best Defensive player on the board. I see two positions that must be filled. DL and ILB. It sure won't hurt to get that TE before the OL. We have the OL coming back. Saying a rookie will beat out a veteran is poppy cock.

Coldworld's picture

You do realize there are future seasons?

dobber's picture

...and future posts.

Coldworld's picture

You do realize there are future seasons?

dobber's picture

WHOAH!!! ;)

Nick Perry's picture

Poppy cock?? LOL...

So if Fant is there @12 are you saying we should take him? What about Fant at #12, Simmons at #30, best available safety at #44 and best available OL at #75?

Would this be a decent first 3 rounds?? I think I'd be pretty happy with a haul like that in days 1 and 2.

dobber's picture

I think that Fant will be overdrafted...not #12 overdrafted (please not at #12), but I think teams will chase his HWS numbers and get a 2nd round talent for a 1st round sticker price.

stockholder's picture

I was saying Fant @30. Over Simmons.The Packers would pass on Simmons if they took Oliver or [email protected] But lets do Cory's draft. All defense was selected early. ILB and DTs are off the board before @12. Burns or Hock remain. So I did this draft based on readers and Cory. @12 Hoek TE @Trade for Williams: #30 and #75 and a 6th #172. @44 We need to replace Cobb/Slot- AJ Brown WR @108 Myles Boykin WR @112 Yodney Cajuste OT @140 Phil Haynes OT @182 Zedrick Woods S @204 Benny Snell RB Can you see how the packers could miss the best defensive players in the draft. Not One offensive Guy will start. Not one. The IDL will be a mess. The ILB goes to Burks. And T. Williams or Jones has to play safety. You just threw away the super-bowl with Corys draft.

Demon's picture

I dont care who or what we draft early. As long as its someone who steps in on day one and plays like he belongs. Draft and develop is fine after round 2. Round 1 and 2 are draft and perform especially with our early picks this year.

If Gute cant find players at 12, 30 and 44 that can beat out some of the schlubs from last year something is terribly wrong.

Jonathan Spader's picture

How many "schlubs from last year" are left?

Old School's picture

Kizer, the #2 QB.

RCPackerFan's picture

IF an OL is the best player available, take him.

But if there are a group of players that are graded the same, I go with something other then OL.

We need Playmakers and Difference makers. Are OL playmakers? No. They are more playmaking preventers. A playmaker is one that can create big plays. An offensive guy a guy who can turn a 3 yard play into a 50, or a guy that is a matchup nightmare. On defense its a guy who can get to the QB, force fumbles, grab interceptions. We need more of those guys.

We do need more OL help, but it doesn't mean that we have to take one in the first round or at least with the 12th pick. I get the argument that we need to improve our OL. But the truth is we have 4 of our OL set. And RG will likely be Turners job to lose. We need depth. Do you spend a first round pick on depth? Or do you spend it on a guy that can start immediately or at the very least be in a rotation?

I go with the best player available, and the player that can be the biggest playmaker.

PeteK's picture

We don't have four linemen set. Guards were a mess and Bulaga will miss games. I hope he doesn't ,but its not a good bet he won't . There's one injury that would end the season, the QB.

RCPackerFan's picture

They have 4 starters. Bakhtiari, Taylor, Linsley and Bulaga. 4 good starters.

Taylor had a down year last year, and Bulaga was coming back from a knee injury, who got hurt during the year. Are we going to throw Taylor out for having one down year after 2 good ones? No. I do believe he had injury issues also.

They have 2 pro bowl caliber players. Bulaga when healthy is one of the better RT's in the league. The problem is he has been injured a lot. And that is why finding a better back up OT is important.

They have 4 positions set.
They have competition for the RG spot. Turner, Light, McCray, Patrick, Siragusa are all in the mix. They have good competition already. We don't know what we will have in Madision either.

They need better backups. Specifically at RT. We need to find our next RT in the draft. Bulaga will be a FA after the year and we need to find his replacement. But that doesn't mean we have to spend the 12th pick on one. If that player is the best player available. Then absolutely take him. But if there are better players elsewhere, take them.

Honestly I would like to see us come away from this draft with 2 more OL. One OT prospect and one OT/OG prospect. We currently have 6 picks through the first 4 rounds. I wouldn't be surprised if they used 2 picks on OL.

The other thing that should be brought up is whether they feel their current OL fit the scheme that LaFleur wants to run. That might skew things a bit as well.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Who plays center if Linsley goes down?

stockholder's picture

Lucas Patrick!! Who Plays QB? Is Rodgers knee Sound? Who's the back up?

RCPackerFan's picture

Patrick. I think McCray has played some center?

I wouldn't be surprised if they drafted a OG/C type of guy. A guy that could back up both spots.

jannes bjornson's picture

RC, you think like a GM, not a fantasy football fan.

RCPackerFan's picture

lol thanks.

stockholder's picture

Ourlads list Patrick on the current depth chart. I'm sure McCray has played some at center. But Patrick is listed #2 center, not McCray.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, I do believe Patrick is the backup center.

I was more questioning about McCray. I think he was a backup OC also?

Packer Fan's picture

Perhaps not at 12, but for sure at either 30 or 44. I didn't think that Madison would come back, but perhaps he can help. But it will be a long road for him, both physically and mentally. I saw a mock draft where two OL were picked. One in the top two rounds and one in 5, 6 or 7. I like that. It they do that, either Madison or the late round pick may end up on the practice squad, but that is OK. Sometimes a guy can develop into a starter after two or three years. Linsley and Bakhtiari were starters out of the gate in round 4 I believe. Taylor took a few years.

blondy45's picture

Pick 12 is still ALL about best player available. If there are several fairly equal choices there, then you also need to consider best needs the Packers have to fill. Ideally I hope the top 11 picks are filled with Qb's, Cb's & OFFENSIVE LINEMEN! That will enable the Pack to be in a great position at 12, find the all Pro and pick him, or trade back just a few spots to get more help in the top 100 picks of the draft. IMO, we need 1. inside (Devin's) LB. 2. Stud D-line, 3. TE at pick number 12.

4thand1's picture

16 DAYS, 10 HOURS , 17 MINUTES.

Since '61's picture

Stick with that countdown 4th. Be well. Thanks, Since ‘61

4thand1's picture

You also, Since'61

Cubbygold's picture

I'm on board, as long as they sign Tre Boston. Moving up in the first to grab this guy would mean giving up at least GBs second round pick. I don't think GB has their FS on the roster now, and wouldn't love the idea of being forced to use the 3rd round pick on the best available Saftey. ...and having to start that guy.

Getting a solid prospect on OL is a need, but can't do it if the consequence is terrible S play this year.

jimtalkbox's picture

I complained about the lack of depth at tackle and guard last year only to hear "don't worry about it, it's going to be ok!".

Wrong.

Keeping Rodgers upright is what keeps the team in the win column. Invest heavily in his protection!

We have plenty of guys that MIGHT be OK. (Light, Spriggs, Turner, McCray, Siragusa, etc.) but they might wash out, too.

IceBowl's picture

I don't know how misconceptions get started or repeated or accepted. AR had time a lot.

Don't misunderstand, I want AR upright and healthy as much as anyone.

But how many times, last year, were we yelling at our TV screens (or luckily in person) "throw the ball" as AR was holding it 4, 5, even 6 seconds or more? Many times a game. Some of his sacks were on him for not throwing it away.

Yes, he needs decent protection, but he can't keep holding the ball so long.

We can and have gotten productive OL in the 3rd rnd and later. Mocks have multiple prospects.

RCPackerFan's picture

The other part of this is the receivers not getting open consistently enough. They had a lot of young WR's playing and Rodgers not able to practice causing a lot more trust issues. Also the scheme went stale and they didn't have the experience at the WR to overcome the scheme.

Now there were times guys were open and Rodgers held the ball for whatever reason, but there wasn't consistency in the passing game.

Having a new offensive coach with a new scheme should hopefully change that part too. Hopefully he will scheme guys open a lot more.

IceBowl's picture

RCPackerFan says, "Now there were times guys were open and Rodgers held the ball for whatever reason...."

Boy that frustrated the crap out of me. They are pros, are on the field, and OPEN. He's got to go to them.

Yes, I too am optimistic that changes this year.

PeteK's picture

Me too, kept looking down field for the big gainer instead of dumping it off to wide open options. What happened to the slant ?

JLab3's picture

Khalil Mack agrees.

Rudedawg67's picture

I think you take the best player available in a position of need. If we just take the best available player and he’s a quarterback that doesn’t make any sense. We need help on the offensive and defensive line. Ultimately it’s a roll the dice. If the individual, along with the coaches, don’t put the effort forth to develope into good football player then what you have is a first or second rounder who is stuck on third string and will get cut three years later or maybe five years later because we didn’t want to fess up to our mistake.

We aren’t winning and losing games 35 to 31 anymore. Against good defenses it seems like we’re lucky to get 20+ points. Most of that is due to the amount of time Rogers has to throw the ball. There are times when he doesn’t have the time to get to his first read that alone his third . So we need to shore up the offensive line. It just seems like the defense has gotten a little better and the offense has regressed.

Draft an edge rusher as a priority also. If the quarterback doesn’t have time to throw the ball the safety position becomes less of a liability automatically.

So I would take an O-lineman and an edge rusher in the first round but not necessarily in that order. And if there are no good guards available maybe draft a good tackle and move Bulaga to guard. He’s getting up there in age and he gets hurt a lot. Maybe a position move will help prolong his career. Just spitball in here though.

So take an edge rusher or any defensive player who can get pressure on the QB when it is 3rd and long and the other teams offense knows your going to rush and take an offensive lineman in the first round.

ILPackerBacker's picture

Really impressive that so many posts when so few bothered to read the article....and for good reason. No fact checking, make crap up and pretend. Lets check

According to PFF Rodgers has been sacked 20 times in 3 years

Yea this is worth reading

carlos's picture

I noticed that also and was like gee, I think I saw way more sacks than that.

JimR_in_SoCal's picture

Perhaps I read Rodgers' stats on PFF incorrectly, but from 2005-2018, they show his sacks each year being: 3, 3, 3, 34, 50, 31, 36, 51, 21, 28, 46, 35, 22, 49.

PAPackerbacker's picture

There will be talented OL available for the Packers to choose from with their 2nd and 3rd round picks. Maybe they could even take a top talented OL with #30, like a Risner of Ford. Hockenson is a good blocker and would be a great pick at #12 also. I don't think Hockenson will be there at #30. But there will be quality OL linemen there at #30, #44, and #75. And perhaps even beyond #75.

Hematite's picture

I do

Hematite's picture

I doubt Hockenson even makes it to the 12 spot.

EddieLeeIvory's picture

Jonah doesn't impress me from my film evals of him.
I want the Vikings to take him.

I'm on board with a good OT anytime, even rd 1. But I'm not impressed by Jonah.

LambeauPlain's picture

Perhaps not...but he would have the talent to be a plug and play at G in MLs wide zone blocking scheme. And ability to fill in at T much better than Spriggs of needed.

dobber's picture

The question is: do you take a guy at the point in the draft where you'd have to take Williams with the intention of not playing him at OT? If your plan is to move him to RT after Bulaga exits, that's one thing, but if you're going to make him a G for the next 10 years...?

JLab3's picture

Drafting an offensive lineman for our right side at twelve may not seem ideal but we are so bereft of OL talent we need to play catchup. Let's face it, every week we place the most expensive player on the field behind an OL that often resembles a cheap folding chair. (Look at sacks per game...we're near the bottom)

Filling the need at twelve gives us a plug and play solution for ten years and gives Rodgers some protection for his final years. I don't see that kind of value from the third, fourth or fifth best edge rusher or, God forbid, another receiver.

Like it or not the Bears made a dominant move in grabbing Khalil Mack, we need to counter.

dobber's picture

Bulaga's in the last year of his deal and Bakhtiari's cap-friendly contract (until this season, but he's still been a steal) ends after next season. If they aren't thinking about longer-term plans at OT, given how they've constrained the cap over the next couple of off-seasons and will have limited resources to sign a player there, there's something wrong. A high-end OT in the draft makes Bulaga's contract (almost $7M in cap relief) and limited availability something the team might no longer wish to carry in 2019.

LambeauPlain's picture

“Kyle Murphy was taken in the sixth round of that same year but he cannot be counted on to fill a large role.”

You are correct, Cory....especially since he is now a RAM after being cut by GB.

I personally believe the Pack should draft the BAP on the O line every year on their board on either day one or day two of the draft.

It is rare for a top OL rookie to start in the NFL....but many do in year two. The Pack needs more quality depth at most positions and the OL is so critical for a team with #12 behind center.

It will be fascinating to see how Gutey's board unfolds on day one. If 3 or 4 of his top rated players are sitting at #12, I can definitely see a trade back a few spots to get another 2nd.

Then Gutey can trade both seconds to get back into the first round at #19-22, depending on the trade partner.

He’d be able to draft 3 top players in round 1 with potential to start immediately or in year 2...all under 5 year contracts.

This draft could, along with this FA class, launch the Pack back to being perennial playoff contenters.

mrtundra's picture

I'd seriously look at Dalton Risner with one of our two picks in the first round. No one gets by him and he can play T, G and C on the O line. He's got a chip on his shoulder, too!

Swedish Chef's picture

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JimR_in_SoCal's picture

Some meatballs, too! Mmmmmm.

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