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Green and Bold: The Case for a Guard

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Green and Bold: The Case for a Guard

Given the moves that the Packers have made in free agency, it's looking more and more likely the the team could address the guard position in the first round of the NFL Draft in April. 

Though the Packers have strengthened the tight end and cornerback position by signing Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks, and Davon House, the guard group is looking thin after T.J. Lang left to sign with the Detroit Lions. 

Right now, there's not really a player on the roster capable of stepping into Lang's starting role on Day 1. The offensive line, which was a major strength for the Packers in recent years, now looks troubling with both Lang and Josh Sitton, who when together were arguably the NFL's best guard tandem, gone. 

While Lane Taylor could likely win his starting role at left guard back outright in training camp, Lang's spot on the right side will be harder to fill. Sure, the Packers re-signed free agent Don Barclay, but given his performance last season, he should only be called upon to start in emergency situations. Jason Spriggs is a natural tackle, though Kyle Murphy, drafted four rounds after Spriggs, could make a move inside. 

But more likely than not, Ted Thompson will have to invest significant draft capital at the position, possibly the Packers' No. 29 overall pick. And the player who makes sense there is Western Kentucky's Forrest Lamp. 

Lamp did not miss an entire game in his four-year career as a starter, which should be music to Thompson's ears after the injuries the Packers have struggled with on the offensive line. 

The 6'4", 309-pound offensive lineman also fits Thompson's M.O. when it comes to NFL guards: He prefers to draft college tackles and move them inside. 

Lamp did start off his career with the Hilltoppers at right guard, but moved to left tackle early in his freshman year and remained there. Given his lack of length and his arm length (32 1/4"), he's a candidate to move inside to guard in his NFL career. 

"He has the athleticism to handle athletic interior rushers while being able to fit into diverse rushing attacks that ask more from the guards and centers," writes NFL.com's Lance Zierlein in Lamp's scouting profile

However, Zierlein also notes that he could potentially line up at tackle, guard, or center, and especially after losing JC Tretter in free agency, the Packers will value that versatility. 

Don't be surprised if Lamp hears his name called by the Packers on Day 1. 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (47) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

The TKstinator's picture

Nothing would surprise me in round one. Or round two. Or round three. Or...
I was TEMPTED to write: "I doubt TT would take a guard in round one. He has shown he can get (very) good ones later."
But then I went back to "expect the unexpected" mode. So time will tell.

Michael Grunewald's picture

Fix the dam defense. That's too high to draft a guard. it's tough to argue you have a single blue chipper on the defensive side of the ball....now that Clay's best days in the rear view mirror.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I won't be suprised, I'll be shocked.

Bearmeat's picture

And upset. This is the draft to grab edge and boundary CBs. Plus, you can find average OGs later in the draft. As long as they aren't a turnstile at RG, I don't really care. Average is ok in a non-premiere position.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

It isn't going to happen.

Nick Perry's picture

Why spend a 1st round pick on a Guard? I've read over and over and over it's one of the easiest positions to replace. Just plug him in and play. Last season we had Taylor. This season we have....

Well I guess it won't matter since it's such an easy spot to replace.

croatpackfan's picture

Nick, Packers have Murphy and Lucas Patrick. Last option (my judgement) is Barclay. So we have 2 (3) options. How good they are? We do not know, but I'm sure coaches and TT is informed about the possibilities of those 2 (3) players...

RCPackerFan's picture

While I won't rule out him drafting Lamp in the first round, I don't think they will. Just basing it on Thompson's draft history.

Over Thompson's years of drafting the highest he has drafted a player that turned into a Guard was Daryn Colledge in the 2nd round. He was drafted at the time to be an OT though. After that was Jason Spitz in the 3rd round. Both came in his 2nd year as GM in Green Bay.
Since then the highest he has spent on a Guard was 4th round.

Going with history, I don't think Thompson will draft an OG in the first round. That being said I didn't think he was going to trade up last year for a backup OT either.

Nick Perry's picture

Lets hope Murphy comes to camp strong as hell and ready to go. PFF had him as one of the "Steals of The Draft" last season considering the Packers got him in the 6th.

RCPackerFan's picture

I think Murphy is a guy to really watch. I think his skillset might be more set to play at G then OT. Hopefully an offseason will really allow him to elevate his game.

MITM's picture

PFF also had Blake Martienz ranked as the top "coverage lb" last season coming out, sooooo. Dont get me wrong though, Im a Blake Martinez fan and expect big things from him sooner rather than later. Anyway a guard in the first round even at 29? No thanks. I truly believe a guard in round 1 is a wasted pick no matter how badly you may need one. Im all for taking a guard after round 3.

MarkinMadison's picture

And Colledge was drafted to be the LT of the future. They only bumped him inside when it became clear that he really couldn't handle the outside.

The one thing about drafting a guard in the first round is that at the bottom of the first you can still get a guy at ILB, OG or RB who is likely the best player in the draft their position. If you look for an edge rusher, CB, QB, T, WR or DL there, you can rest assured that most years the impact players are long gone, and you are hoping for the gem that inexplicably fell, gambling on the injured not fully recovering, or relaizing that you are getting your 2nd/3rd/4th choice at the position.

All of that said I think either Murphy or Lucas will get the RG job, and that one of them will do fine.

RCPackerFan's picture

Exactly right.

I get what your saying that you could possibly get the best OG vs the 3rd-6th best OLB, CB, etc... For me though, I think in the first round they have to find the most impact full type of player on the board. If its a RB, WR, DL, OLB, CB, to me they need to find guys that can change game. OG's don't change games except in a negative way.

I think they will be able to find OG's later in the draft that can come in and play right away. I don't think they need to use a 1st round pick on an OG.

MarkinMadison's picture

I generally agree. I think after the Travis Frederick example though, you have to consider the idea of drafting a plug-and-play guy even at an interior line position. If you can lock up a starter for five years on the cheap. that has got to be tempting for a GM.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah I agree to a point. I mean if your looking at getting a rotational guy at best at the end of the 1st or getting a guy that can start and play well. There is value there.
I just think you can generally find OG's later in the draft.

RCPackerFan's picture

I agree.
For me if Mel Kiper Jr's latest mock came true and Dalvin Cook fell to the Packers, I would take him no question. McCaffery, yes depending on who is available defensively.

They definitely need more game changers on defense. For me preferably more pass rushers and CB's. Can't have to many of those guys.

Turophile's picture

Let us deal with a guard in round one first. It will not happen, Ted has already proved he doesn't value guards all that highly, and that comes in to play even if you draft one....why ? Because when the rookie contract is up it costs too much to retain what might then be the best guard in the league, so no Lamp going to GB, especially when he has been able to get top O linemen in round 4 or 5 (Sitton, Lang, Tretter, Bakhtiari, Linsley).

If the Ohio state guy, Elflein is still there in round 3, he might be a target (listed as center, but should be fine at guard), he looks like a terrific individual. Also Utah guard Isaac Asiata could be value in round 4. he is quick, strong and tough.

MarkinMadison's picture

I was wondering about Asiata. He looks like a good target to me. I was just wondering if he has the feet to play G for the Packers. Big strong kid though. You wouldn't need to worry about him getting pushed around in year 1.

caruso81's picture

At this point we have no idea what sort of bat-crap crazy move Ted will make. He's demonstrated time and again a certain curious disregard for addressing team needs. I would not be shocked if he went QB or TE on one hand or traded away the 1st and 2nd round picks for 7 7th round picks and a punter.

Tundraboy's picture

That's for sure. Would love to have Lamp, but D must come first. Will TT focus on D? , who the hell knows.

Tundraboy's picture

Guess someone didn't like the truth. I gave you an up vote.

fthisJack's picture

no one knows or can even imagine what TT has in mind for the 29th pick. look at last year....did anyone on earth even think Damarious Randall in the first round?
just a wild guess here that if none of the surefire difference makers fall into GB lap...he will go either OLB or CB at 29 but no way a G. i believe he thinks either Patrick or Murphy can be the guy.
i just hope that its not someone where you have to say...."WHO?"

erkaftan's picture

I hope TJ Watt is the first round pick. Guard can be addressed later.

croatpackfan's picture

No, please, stop nonsense. As Packers "survived" Josh Sitton release last season, Packers OL will be strenght of the team entering 2017 season.
I know I'm not popular here because I respect Ted Thompson, but even if you do not like him, I doubt you consider him stupid...

Matt Gonzales's picture

I tend to agree. Drafting a guard in the first round doesn't make sense unless you plan on moving him outside to tackle before the end of his rookie contract. The expectation of the first round players is to be someone who produces an immediate impact.

mnbruton's picture

Whenever someone starts a sentence with, "All due respect," I brace myself for something disrespectful. This is a gross post. I've studied every Packers draft under Thompson - as well as Sherman, Wolf, etc., because I'm good at my job. Few expected Thompson to draft Aaron Rodgers in Round 1, but here we are. Would this be an unconventional first-round pick? Yes. You're free to disagree with it. You're not free to mansplain to me about draft history.

RCPackerFan's picture

Michelle. For the record. I like the work you do, and I really enjoy reading your articles.

I don't always agree with everything you say, but I'm not going to try and tell you how to do your job or bash you in anyway.

Keep doing a great job Michelle!

MITM's picture

Michelle, remember you from my days of reading Bleacher Report. You always seemed to do your homework, and like RC said even if I dont always agree, I'll always give respect where its due.

Razer's picture

Respect aside - Ted picking a guard in the first or second round is more akin to fantasy football than anything in the real world. You need to get the third round before Ted even thinks about centers and guards.

MarkinMadison's picture

"Whenever someone starts a sentence with, 'All due respect...'"

It's funny. Most people rarely use that phrase with someone they actually respect. In fairness to DesertStroh though, he has a long history of "mansplaining" to all of us. He's actually been relatively good lately though.

MarkinMadison's picture

Look, you're a smart guy, and you know football. But I've watched you do this for years now. Seriously, seek counseling. Your life will be better.

fthisJack's picture

michelle, then having studied and followed the draft, what makes you think TT will draft a guard this year when he has never done it before?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Can't give Michele an up or down for her comment, though I can give a thumbs up for her article.

I am disappointed that she brought gender into it. DPF is condescending to virtually everyone on a routine basis regardless of race, gender, national origin, religion or any other modifier. He is pretty equal opportunity that way.

I love words. I love the precision of your word choices, and the flow of your writing, Michele. Your articles are a pleasure to read. The substance is good, too, but then, I can generally find something to take issue with regarding the substance of any article.

marpag1's picture

Mansplainin'... Womansplainin'... LOL. What really cracks me up is all of the Tedsplainin'

"Well, that's mighty cute that ya gotchyerself a lil idee-er there, boy, but lemee tell y'all sumtin 'bout Ted Thompson...."

As if anybody had a clue what any team was contemplating to do in any round of the upcoming NFL draft.

jww061356's picture

I agree except.....the shortest path to rushing Rogers and disrupting our offense is by overrunning a guard. Rogers usually had a ridiculous amount of time to find a receiver last year, and I doubt he will suddenly stop holding the ball this year. I don't think he gets 8 or 9 seconds to hit Cook in Dallas without a quality guard. That being said, I still think we can get a guy in the middle rounds to supplement what we have. Too much help needed on the other side of the ball.

Ferrari Driver's picture

Although most all of us are impressed with Forest Lamp and he may be an all pro type lineman, I believe Ted will pick the best player available among edge rushers and corner backs where there is a good chance a 1st years stater will be around and the end of the first round.

However, if someone the Packers have rated in the top 12 falls, I do believe Thompson will grab him, unless he is a quarterback.

OrganLeroy's picture

"However, if someone the Packers have rated in the top 12 falls, I do believe Thompson will grab him, unless he is a quarterback."

Or RB, or WR, or TE.

fthisJack's picture

no...if corey davis is there...he will draft him!

MarkinMadison's picture

Actually, by your own logic it makes perfect sense that someone doing BPA would end up with a guard at the end of the first. Every single year we see guys taken in the first out of strict draft grade order because they play a premium position (QB and edge rushers especially).

efox2011's picture

This is a great post, Michelle. We saw for years how valuable having two great guards was in protecting Aaron. Nothing disrupts an office like a powerful rush up the middle. Would certainly prefer for TT to address the pass rush or CB early in the draft, particularly when you consider the hit rate the FO has had with middle round OL, but taking a guy like Lamp or Dan Feeney in the first two rounds would not be cause for complaint. Massive caveat--if Kevin King is available in R1 and they pass on him for Lamp I will still probably flip my shit.

fthisJack's picture

no first round guard. they have Patrick and Murphy and i'm sure they plan on having one of them step in. Patrick looked good in limited preseason games....so here is hoping both take the 2nd year jump.

porupack's picture

Not exactly related to the article, but does anyone think that TT considers Sitton and Lang were slightly over-rated, in part due to Roger's ability to scramble and evade sacks? Maybe TT has figured some of their value was inflated if their stats were partly aided by ARogers.

MarkinMadison's picture

I think it was all about father time. He paid them fair contracts in their prime.

Bert's picture

Kinda depends on how TT projects Lamp's ceiling compared to other prospects at more need positions. He may place a higher value on Lamp and may not see the available CBs or OLBs with quite the same value as we do. If he sees Lamp as a All-Pro type and the others as just guys then he may very well pick Lamp at #29.

stockholder's picture

TT will never draft Lamp. It would be sabotage. To take a guard that high is ridicules. Tackle yes. Guard no. TTs history would justify "sabotage". I still believe that Spriggs does have a roll. And they aren't going to keep him on the bench. So I'm going to give you two guys that can play guard. That TT should draft for development. Both are Tackle /Guards. Pick= #5 Erik Masnusan 6'4" 305 U of M. #6 Corey Levin 6.3" 307 Chattanooga. (Climbing) Scouts have compared him to Josh Sitton.

Spock's picture

Michelle, I normally find your articles some of my favorites (well researched, well written, etc.). However, I had the same reaction as DPF (which is unusual, although, as mentioned above lately I'm agreeing with what he's writing) when I read your first sentence, "Given the moves that the Packers have made in free agency, it's looking more and more likely the team could address the guard position in the first round of the NFL Draft in April." I thought to myself, "Huh?" I was going to comment on the bizarreness of that assertion but DPF beat me to it. Don't take offense, but if he got your hackles up he wasn't the only one to find the premise of this article to be a "reach". I enjoy your articles as much as any writer on CHTV, but I think you are taking the comments MUCH too personal here. This article IMHO wasn't one of your better thought out ones. That's okay; 99% of the time you write some of my favorite articles on this site :) . This time, for me, you missed the target. Keep up the good work. I'm looking forward to your next article (and I mean that sincerely).

Tedlyflyfisher's picture

Some people forget that protecting our investment in A.R. Is a key to our success. That said, repairing our defense and our db's had better be a priority when we draft!

And as for allowing Barclay on the field while A.R. Is in the game, "are you nuckin futts????" Please, God, never again in my lifetime!

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