<
>

ChatWrap: Stability among O-linemen

Thanks to everyone for participating in our final SportsNation chat of the offseason. We'll be jumping back in next month, so don't you go finding any permanent replacements for our Tuesday afternoon time slot.

Chris of St. Paul pointed to what I think has been a common pitfall for the Green Bay Packers in recent years. Here was the exchange:

Chris (St. Paul, MN)

Packer question, but pertains to the NFL in general: Should a 1st round pick show flashes of dominance during camp (possibility w/[Bryan] Bulaga) do you give him a shot elsewhere along the offensive line? So, 5 most effective lineman starting or strictly develop some players for 1 position?

Kevin Seifert (2:24 PM)

Well, that's the theory that has gotten the Packers in trouble multiple times in recent years with their offensive line. There are all different ways to look at that, and I understand wanting the "best five" out there. But there's no question that continuity is a big issue on offensive lines as well. So if you make a starter the top backup at another position, you end up having to change two positions to fix one. That's what the Packers did last year with [Daryn Colledge] moving to left tackle. An alternate way to handle it is to find a backup who can play multiple positions and multiple sides. When a starter gets hurt, that guy is the next man up at whatever position it is. So you have your best six guys and plug the sixth in wherever he needs to be.

I'm not sure if the Packers have a utility-type offensive lineman, although T.J. Lang might be able to play both tackle and guard positions. But above all else, I hope the Packers continue to resist the temptation to shift Bulaga to left guard if Chad Clifton proves healthy and capable at left tackle in training camp.

Let Bulaga focus on the position he almost certainly will play long-term. Say he opens the season as the left guard and then Clifton is hurt or ineffective.

To fix that problem, the Packers will have to upset two positions by moving Bulaga to left tackle and inserting someone else at left guard. And by limiting his time at left tackle, the Packers ostensibly will have set back his development there.

Moving Bulaga to left guard should be a measure of last resort, not part of an effort to get the "best five" linemen on the field.