Who Will Start at Right Guard for the Packers in 2018?
Three months before the Packers will play anything approaching meaningful football, their starting right guard spot is as uncertain as a position can be.
Fortunately, the Packers have the luxury of options at right guard. Though few of the contenders for the job could be described as seasoned veterans, each has his own strengths. It wouldn’t be surprising to see any one of the nine options below lining up with the starting offense in Week 1.
Let’s take a brief look at each of the candidates and what they could bring to the job.
The Clubhouse Leaders
To the extent that someone can be a favorite for a contested position in May, Justin McCray is probably the favorite to start at right guard for the Packers. He’ll almost certainly be the starter at right guard through the offseason program.
McCray is a big bodied, brutish lineman who’s almost certainly better suited to play guard than tackle, where he was stranded through no fault of his own for most of last season. He’ll probably benefit from a move inside, where he can use his strength and bulk in the street fight that is interior line play.
Likewise, 2018 fifth-round draft pick Cole Madison brings excellent size to the position. A collegiate right tackle, Madison is two inches taller than McCray and tested better than his counterpart at every drill but the bench press. The Packers love to take tackles and turn them into guards and if he succeeds, Madison will be just the latest in a long line to make the move.
The Question Marks
Beyond the big contenders, the Packers have several options but each comes with significant question marks.
Lucas Patrick and Adam Pankey both got some consideration last year, but neither was a preferred choice. Patrick is a lifelong guard, but doesn’t have a high performance pedigree and didn’t test particularly well coming out of Duke.
Pankey, meanwhile, is another tackle to guard option and has good size. He may not be a true contender to start at guard, but he could be a solid depth option at both guard and tackle.
The most athletic of the bunch, Kofi Amichia spent all of 2017 on the practice squad. Like Pankey, Amichia is a college tackle trying to make his way in the NFL as a guard. Of the serious contenders at guard, he’s probably the most athletic.
Finally, Kyle Murphy can’t be completely counted out at guard. Though he ended up tackle last year, he named himself a contender for the job about this time last year. If the Packers need more options, Murphy could get a look again this season.
The (Very) Long Shots
For two college tackles with serious athletic question marks, making the jump to NFL guard is a big ask. Still, the Packers officially consider both Jacob Alsadek and Alex Light as prospects at both guard and tackle, so it’s worth knowing a little bit about both of them.
Alsadek is big, even for an offensive lineman, but he plays very slowly and isn’t strong enough yet to be a real offensive line contender.
Light did play some guard in college due to injuries and could end up projecting as a center in the NFL. Just don’t ask him to get anywhere quickly. Light ran a glacial 5.52 40-yard dash at his pro day.
The Emergency Option
Somewhere in the depths of Lambeau Field there’s a phone booth-sized glass case with an empty #73 uniform hanging inside. In the event of a guard emergency, Brian Gutekunst may yet be forced to call old friend Jahri Evans, who was dependable if unspectacular in 14 games with the Packers. It may not be desirable, but if it’s that the worst thing the Packers have to do in the personnel department next season, the team is probably in pretty good shape.