Packer Update

SHERROD FACES TOUGH TRANSITION

Rookie is first in line to replace Daryn Colledge at left guard

I understand why Derek Sherrod opened camp as the starting left guard. This year’s first-round draft choice is far and away the most talented of the contenders for the job – not to mention far and away the highest-paid. But I also understand how difficult the transition will be. Not only does Sherrod have to learn a new position – he played tackle at Mississippi State – but he has to do it with a body that simply isn’t built to play inside.

There’s a reason most offensive linemen over 6’4 play tackle in the NFL. While great height and long arms are an advantage when playing on an island, those same traits tend to be a problem when working in tight quarters. That means technique will be very important for Sherrod. He must avoid playing too upright and allowing defenders to get inside his frame and control him. But even if he keeps his pad-level low (there’s your first McCarthyism of the season), it remains to be seen whether he has the lower-body strength needed to keep from getting rocked backwards by powerful defensive linemen. Even while playing tackle in college, Sherrod wasn’t overly aggressive and tended to do too much catching.

There aren’t many quality guards as tall as Sherrod in the NFL – he measured just under 6’6 at his pro day – but there are a few. Steve Hutchison (Vikings), Carl Nicks (Saints), Leonard Davis (ex-Cowboys) and Alan Faneca (retired) have all gone to a Pro Bowl within the past two years and each stands at least 6’5. Nevertheless, they are the exceptions rather than the rule. The average height of the 64 starting guards who finished last season was 6’3 3/4. That includes Green Bay’s Daryn Colledge (6’4) and Josh Sitton (6’3).

Veteran T.J. Lang is currently the No. 2 left guard. He’s also taller than the average guard (6’4 1/4), but he’s a more natural fit inside than Sherrod. That’s because the former Eastern Michigan star has a solid build and a wide, square frame. He also has enough lower-body strength to anchor effectively against power. But Lang has a few issues of his own. For one, he’s not a particularly good athlete – something that’s apparent when he has to respond to quick counters or get to the second level. He also needs to improve his overall awareness. He tended to be a bit slow reacting to blitzes last summer.

Based purely on body type and athletic ability, it would probably make the most sense to move Bryan Bulaga to left guard and put Sherrod at right tackle. But under these unique circumstances, it’s understandable why the Packers chose not to go in this direction. Such a move would create question marks at two positions, and no team wants that when the regular season is scheduled to open in 37 days.

The last time the Packers lost a starting left guard to free agency was 2005. Mike Wahle’s exit to Carolina left a hole in the line that wasn’t adequately filled until Daryn Colledge was drafted a year later. General manager Ted Thompson thought he had an able replacement in Adrian Klemm, but he was wrong. He’s probably not wrong this time. Chances are, either Sherrod or Lang will be able to get the job done. The former is too talented and the latter too hard-working to fail the way Klemm did. But on a team which has very few question marks heading into the season, this is definitely one that’s yet to be answered.

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13 Comments to "SHERROD FACES TOUGH TRANSITION"

  1. Mike says:

    They’re only giving Sherrod the reps due to an artificially reduced training camp due to the lock-out. Also, Bulaga is 6’5″, now 320, not much of a different ‘body type’ than Sherrod to place at guard. He and Sherrod are, however, the best pure athletes on the line. That’s not in question.

    • Michael Rodney says:

      Bulaga is a more natural guard than Sherrod. Not only did he play the position in college, but his body isn’t as linear, his arms aren’t as long and he’s much stronger in the lower body. I’m not saying Sherrod can’t play the position, I’m just saying that it will be a huge challenge for him.

  2. Tangysizzl says:

    I like Lang at LG, I think he can lock that position down just fine this season. Sherrod is a tackle not a OG, that im sure of. Gotta give a look but I don’t think it will last long.

    I know its early but I hear that Marshall Newhouse is rocking it at LT. Could he possibly push Sherrod to RT behing Bulaga or have them compete to start at RT?

    That would be strange.

  3. Nerdmann says:

    I kind of thought this was why Marshall Newhouse isn’t playing at G. He’s too lanky. They tried him there last year, didn’t seem like he could do it.

  4. Nerdmann says:

    Makes me wonder, if Newhouse and Sherrod can both play LT, does that make Cliffy expendable?

  5. Archie says:

    Sherrod at any G position makes no sense to me. He will be asked to play to his weakness. That never makes sense. What happened to McDonald? Sherrod should play outside. If he gets injured playing inside this will be the season’s first easy 2nd guess.

  6. Grave Digger says:

    Sherrod at LG makes a lot of sense for his transition to LT which is probably going to come next season. It’s easier to go from LG to LT than RT to LT from what I’ve read. So on that count, if Sherrod and Lang are equally capable at LG then it makes sense to go with Sherrod.

    On the other hand, it makes just as much sense to give Sherrod all the snaps at LT when Clifton is not in. Chances are he’s going to be called upon to play for Clifton some anyway so it might be good to let him get as many reps there as possible. It would also be easier if Lang took over now so there would be a guy with some experience playing next to our first year LT next season. Lang seems like a guy who just needs an opportunity and some experience and he will produce so it might be better to get him that experience now rather than have two first year starters on the same side next season.

    • Michael Rodney says:

      I was told by someone at practice that Lang had a very good night. As I wrote last week, he’ll play a lot better this summer than he played last season.

  7. dHoward says:

    This is the biggest question mark going into this season. All the other puzzle pieces are back from last year and depth has been added with the guys coming off IR. LG is the one starting spot that has lost it’s starter. (Right DE (Jenkins) is also gone but he was replaced effectively for multiple games last year and Mike Neal is back.)

    I try not to second guess the professionals on who plays what position. I do think though they have enough horses in the stable at this point to put 5 quality o-lineman on the field. What a difference a few drafts does make. I do worry about Clifton going down with injury early. Is Sherrod ready for LT? I know Newhouse is reported to have one good day at camp but that hardly convinces me he is ready to replace Clifton. I just fear if Clifton goes down you then have to start moving Bulaga, LG, etc…It gets messy fast. But, I’m not sure there is a team in the league that wouldn’t have that same issue if their LT went down. If you have a guy that is good enough to play LT when the starter gets hurt most likely he is too good not to be on the field at LG or RT.

  8. Tangysizzl says:

    Ok but Newhouse has looked good in every practice so far(3) but only one was in pads. Usually we go through OTAs and minicamps and everyone says wait till the pads go on, that will separate the men from the boys.

    Well the pads went on and Newhouse still kicked some ass so I would say hes off to a pretty good start.

    Starting a rookie is usually not something you do if you can help it, especially this year. Most of the time its forced or the rookie is so good he gives you no choice. So if Sherrod has to be a backup for a year thats not bad thing at all.

    Bulaga needs a backup too and if Lang wins the LG job than maybe Sherrod is the backup at both LG and RT. Cause right now Newhouse seems like the best option to have behind Clifton because you know at some point Clifton will probably miss some time.

  9. Grave Digger says:

    That would be a mistake to make Newhouse the back-up LT in my opinion, unless Sherrod was already pressed into duty at another position.

    IF Sherrod wins the LG job, then he will still be the back-up LT. He will slide over and Lang will move into LG. IF Lang wins the LG job, Sherrod is still the back-up LT and also probably the back-up LG and RT. Newhouse may be having a good camp, but Sherrod is the future and they’re going to get him as much experience as possible…unless he just really stinks.

    Newhouse needs to work on having the flexibility to play inside and outside. He’s a talented player and it would be nice to be able to plug him in somewhere other than just LT.

  10. Tangysizzl says:

    If Newhouse is the better LT now and im not saying he is but if he is why is that a mistake to have him ready to step in for Clifton.

    You would rather have a rookie covering 3 spots than to stick him a one maybe two positions and let him learn the NFL game.

    I understand having the OL learn more than one position for flexiblity but its not always wise to play musical chairs with these guys all the time.

    We know Clifton will probally miss games so having a capable backup ready for him is the smartest thing to do. Be it Newhouse or Sherrod.

  11. saguaro says:

    It seems that the Packers have an unconventional O-line philosophy: Best player available. While there is some distinction among T, G, & C, if one of the top five go down, the other four will shift around to put the sixth best lineman on the field. There doesn’t seem to be a separate “back-up LT” or “back-up RG” or “back-up C” regardless of what the depth charts show. Is that a good philosophy? I have my doubts–especially when there are 7-8, even 9 good-looking linemen. I would think all would be even more goodlooking with lots of reps at a designated position.

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