Do the Shuffle

What once was left was turned right, and now is left again. (Since the titles kind of rhyme, I'm using this blog post as an opportunity to link to this song. Moving along.)

It's pretty rare that an NFL storyline that develops in May has any real bearing on the season, but this is an exception. The Journal Sentinel's Tom Silverstein explains:

The season opener is four months away and a lot can happen between now and then, but the Green Bay Packers are starting the off-season with some major changes on their offensive line.

The most noteworthy is that right tackle Bryan Bulaga is moving to the left side to be quarterback Aaron Rodgers' blind-side protector, replacing last year's starter Marshall Newhouse.

In addition, the coaches have flipped guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton, moving Lang from left to right and Sitton from right to left. Newhouse, 2012 undrafted free agent Don Barclay and 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod will all have a shot to start at right tackle.

The left side of this new arrangement is going to get the most headlines for obvious reasons: Aaron Rodgers signed a contract this off-season worth approximately Sudan, and given that he's a pretty okay player too, the Packers want to protect him. It makes sense to put your best protectors at the positions that do the most protecting.

That said, I think the battle at right tackle is the most interesting development here, because it opens the door for a three way race rather than just two. If things had stayed the same, Don Barclay would have been penciled in as Bryan Bulaga's backup at right tackle, while Marshall Newhouse and Derek Sherrod slugged it out for the right to protect the blind side. But now, Newhouse, Sherrod, and Barclay will fight for the slightly less important right tackle spot.

It's hard to handicap that race, but traditional wisdom would say that the Packers would prefer Sherrod to win the spot. They spent their 2011 first round pick on him, and presumably they'd like a return on their investment. He also probably has a higher upside than Barclay, based solely on the fact that nobody thought enough of Barclay to draft him. Beyond that, it's anybody's guess as to who comes out a winner.

Finally, it's probably worth noting that the Packers seem pretty settled on Evan Dietrich-Smith, who I'm required by Packers Blogging Bylaws to describe as "squatty." Whatever his stature, EDS seems locked into the starting center spot, despite still being listed as a center/guard on the Packers' website. Currently Green Bay only carries Dietrich-Smith and undrafted free agents Patrick Lewis and Garth Gerhart at the center position, which would seem to give Dietrich-Smith a pretty substantial inside track to securing the starting center job for good.

Jon Meerdink