The Big Fellas - O-Line Edition
I'll admit that this is going to be a tough one for me, since there are basically no publicly available stats for the offensive line and you really don't ever see anyone play beyond the starters and occasionally backups who come in for mop-up duty or as an injury replacement. But that doesn't mean I can't perform the blogger's duty and talk about that which I don't really know, so let's jump right in!
We'll break down the offensive line by position, starting with the guys that start it all: the centers.
Jeff Saturday - The most notable newcomer to this group, Saturday brings veteran experience and should capably fill the void left by the departure of Scott Wells, even to the point of wearing the exact same number (which is a coincidence, since that's what he wore in Indianapolis, but it's still neat.) The obvious red flag with Saturday is his age. He's 37. He won't be around long term, which means the Packers are going to have to come up with a more long term answer at center soon. That's obviously not Saturday's fault, but it's still something you have to mention whenever you're talking about him.
Sampson Genus - Undrafted free agent who stuck around all of last year. Has never appeared in a regular season game. Other than his first name, there really aren't many interesting things about him, at least as far as his Packers career is concerned. Played some defensive tackle in college and was a high school weight lifting champion, at one point benching 420 pounds!
Tommie Draheim - Draheim is pretty gigantic for a center (6'4", 309 pounds) and comes to the Packers from the University of San Diego. He started the last 30 games of his career consecutively, and that's all I know about Tommie Draheim, other than the fact that it's pretty cool that a full grown man goes by the name Tommie.
Josh Sitton - To me, it's easy to see why Josh Sitton has been successful as an offensive lineman. I mean, look at the guy. Would you want to get in his way? I sure wouldn't, and it seems like a lot of NFL defensive guys don't either. Either that, or he's really good at getting in their way. Whatever the case, Josh Sitton is good, and some people think he could make the Pro Bowl this year, assuming that the Pro Bowl is still a thing by the end of next season.
TJ Lang - Has played tackle, guard, and even a little defensive line in his time with the Packers, but seems to be pretty set as the starting left guard for right now. A former fourth round pick, Lang is entering his fourth year in the league and turns 25 in September.
Evan Dietrich-Smith - Evan Dietrich-Smith is a guy you won't hear a lot of people talking about, probably because they don't want to waste time typing out his stupidly long and hyphenated last name. I think more people should talk about him more, though, because he could be the Packers' most valuable backup offensive lineman, mainly for his ability to play both center and guard. In fact, he'll probably be the top backup at the center spot this year, but I'm listing him as a guard because I forgot that he'll play center too and I'm too lazy to change it.
Ray Dominguez - Another monster up front (6'4", 334 pounds), there's unfortunately not a lot to say about Ray Dominguez on the football field. He's another versatile backup that will definitely help the team with depth along the line this year. He also has one of the more interesting team bios, particularly for this little gem: "[Dominguez] enjoys playing the piano and drawing and describes himself as a good dancer for a 300-plus pounder."
Grant Cook - An anonymous player with an anonymous name, Cook is a space filler on the offensive line. About 90% of the things in his team bio are about other players, which is kind of sad when you think about it, but that's life for an offensive lineman.
Jaymes Brooks - For some reason, Jaymes Brooks' parents thought it was necessary to put a "y" in the name James, even though it's been spelled the same way for only about two thousand years. But no, Mr. and Mrs. Brooks knew better. He got a "y" in his name and he has to live with it. Forever.
Don Barclay - Don Barclay played in 52 games in his college career, which is quite a large number. He has played in zero games in his NFL career, which is much less impressive.
Bryan Bulaga - Bulaga earns the unique distinction of being the most experienced Packer tackle in terms of game experience despite only just entering his third year. If e hadn't been so solid in his first two years, his lack of experience would concern me a lot. But given his stellar play, I'm pretty happy with the former first round pick. Also, he has really chubby cheeks, but that means absolutely nothing at all. Is it weird that I notice this?
Marshall Newhouse - The presumptive heir to the Chad Clifton throne, Newhouse had an up and down 2011 season. Sometimes he was bad, and sometimes he was really, really bad. All kidding aside, he actually did a pretty good job last year. Hopefully with a solid offseason of work, he'll be even better this year. On a personal note, Newhouse spends a lot of his free time volunteering, including a couple different trips to foreign countries with Habitat for Humanity.
Derek Sherrod - I had initially hoped that Sherrod would give Newhouse some competition for the left tackle job this year, but his broken leg late last season might have put a bit of a damper on that. Hopefully he'll be able to return strong for training camp. I do think he'll be the long term answer at left tackle, but I really don't have many reasons to back this up. Just a hunch.
Andrew Datko - Big, tall guy who could probably have been drafted a lot higher had he not battled injuries for most of his senior season at Florida State. If he puts his injuries behind him, he could be regarded as a tremendous steal. If not, he probably won't be regarded much at all. Once received the Bob Crenshaw Award by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club as the "Most Courageous" Seminole, which could fill an entire line on his resume if he ever needs to send one out.
Mike McCabe - He went to Holy Cross, which evidently has a football team with uniforms and everything. He needs to learn how to smile for teamphotos. He almost had it in that second one! Keep trying, Mike!
Conclusion - Like I said before, I really don't have many resources for evaluating offensive linemen, and guessing what they'll do beyond keeping last year's starters is a crapshoot at best. My best guess is that they'll keep between eight and 11 linemen at a variety of positions, including one or two guys who can flex between a couple (Dietrich-Smith, Dominguez) and maybe another guy on the practice squad. Beyond that, who knows what's going to happen?