Derek Sherrod's Last Shot
Once upon a time, Derek Sherrod was the Packers' bookend tackle of the future. Gifted with tremendous physical tools, Sherrod would partner with Bryan Bulaga, anchoring both ends of the offensive line for the next decade or more, protecting Aaron Rodgers and carving running lanes in the ground game.
Two years later, Sherrod is recovering from multiple leg surgeries and Bulaga is coming off a knee surgery of his own. The difference, though, is that Bulaga's spot on the line is all but guaranteed. Sherrod, however, doesn't have that luxury. In an increasingly competitive position group, Sherrod could be the odd man out.
But why was Sherrod picked in the first place? It's easy to forget that he was once (by at least one person's opinion) a contender to be the top tackle prospect in his draft class. But why? What did he really bring to the table? After watching him stand on the sideline for the better part of two seasons, it's a fair question to ask, but scouts at the time were very high on the young tackle.
Greg Cox of Walter Football rated Sherrod highly for his athleticism, his experience against the top competition of the SEC, and his pass protection. CBS Sports was also high on Sherrod's athleticism and physical attributes, specifically his hand strength and long arms, both of which they rated highly in pass protection.
However, with the praises came negativity too, with nearly every scouting report available criticizing Sherrod's drive and aggression. The physical gifts are there, said a chorus of scouts, but he lacks some nastiness and aggression. NFL.com went so far as to rate him a Day 3 pick.
Today, Sherrod is far closer to being that Day 3 pick than anything remotely justifying a first round selection. He's always looked a little bit on the soft side, both physically and in his play on the field, but maybe a couple years on the sideline has instilled a little nastiness into the one-time first rounder.
If not, a roster spot is far from a guarantee. If your starters are David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, J.C. Tretter, T.J. Lang, and Bryan Bulaga, there are 3, maybe four roster spots available after that. Don Barclay is a good bet to stick, given his ability to play guard and tackle. Corey Linsley looks promising too, either as a contender to start at center or as the top backup. That leaves two spots for Sherrod and a few others to fight over.
Just on a guess, I'd say that Sherrod is likely to make the team. He still has upside, and it's likely greater than any of the other young tackle prospects he'll be battling for one of the last roster spots. But in year four of his rocky career, upside may no longer be enough to save him.