After losing T.J. Lang to the Detroit Lions the Packers have a large hole to fill, both literally and figuratively. The Packer’s need for a right guard compounds when taking stock of their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. One of the Packer’s only legitimate offensive weapons, Rodgers needs the premier protection a premier quarterback deserves. In this article I explore options for filling the position.
Packers In House Options
The Packer’s first option is staying in-house. Don Barclay is the presumptive starter if the Packer’s do not make an outside move. Barclay is relatively young at 27 years old, but he does lack starting experience. Barclay has been in the league since 2012. He has never started a full slate of games with his most active year coming in 2013 where he started and played in 14 games.
Other in-house options exist however. Other options include Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy. Neither of these two seems likely as both are offensive tackles by trade. Lucas Patrick, another named floated around, spent the entire 2016 season on the practice squad.
Within the organization, moving Brian Bulaga to right guard is suggested. This seems like one of the least likely scenarios as Bulaga is the current right tackle and is coming off arguably his best career year. The problems exacerbate when forcing Bulaga to adapt to a new position because moving Bulaga from tackle would create a similar hole to the one already existing at guard, and by all accounts, tackle is a more important position.
Despite Ted Thompson’s lack of off-season signings he has been notoriously good at drafting quality offensive line talent. If Thompson does not focus his early round drafting efforts towards fixing his mediocre defense, then going after an upper tier guard prospect is likely second on the menu.
Former Western Kentuckian Forrest Lamp is one of the top offensive guards on the draft board after two great years at left tackle, although his frame is more suited for guard. Luckily for the Packer’s they pick 29th in the first round right around where Lamp has been projected to go. Lamp would have to prove he is ready for the pros, after only playing in the relatively small Conference USA. However, according to top draft prospect defensive end Jonathan Allen, he seems ready.
— Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) January 7, 2017
However, even if Lamp is not ready for the 2017 season another stopgap could be employed until he is.
If the Packer’s do not think they can solve their right guard vacancy in-house or in the draft the next place to look is free agency. Searching free agency would require Ted Thompson to abandon his free agency stinginess, but if he did the most likely candidate would be Jahri Evans. A 12 season veteran, Evans was employed last by the New Orleans Saints. Evans has a wealth of experience to his credit, starting in nearly every game of his career since 2006. He is aging however, at 33 with plenty of wear on his legs after a hearty career and a meniscus injury in 2015 that caused him to miss 5 games, more than he has ever missed in his career.
The most exciting option is certainly Lamp but if the Packer’s feel the need to shore up the defense over the offensive line in the first round, they likely will not see him come around in the second round. Barclay and the rest of the in-house options are a bit underwhelming but still are serviceable. In Ted Thompson’s forbidden land, free agency, Jahri Evans could adequately shore up the offensive line as a relatively cost effective solution. It is up to Thompson and the Packer’s front office as to which set of risks they will take.
— Patrick Backlas covers the Green Bay Packers as a columnist for cover32 Packers. Connect and follow on Twitter @PatrickBacklas
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