Who Replaces T.J. Lang at Right Guard in 2017?
The moment T.J. Lang left for the Detroit Lions, the Packers had an enormous hole at right guard. Whether Green Bay is ready or not, they’ll need to replace the steady Lang in 2017.
Because there wasn’t a direct heir apparent to Lang like there was when the Packers surprisingly released Josh Sitton at the end of training camp, it allows us to recklessly speculate.
Just who may the Packers have in mind to be on the offensive line at the start of 2017? Here’s the percent chances as I see them:
Rookie selected in the draft - 25%
Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp is a popular name in mock drafts. Lamp played left tackle in college, but with shorter arms than Bryan Bulaga projects as a guard. Lamp also excelled at the Senior Bowl, an event the Packers have held in high regard when considering rookie talent.
Last season, four (Lang, Taylor, Linsley and Bakhtiari) of the Packers starting offensive lineman were selected in the fourth round of the draft or later. If Lamp is off the board, it could be until Day 3 before Green Bay addresses the offensive line.
Kyle Murphy - 25%
Murphy was selected in the sixth round of last season’s draft. He played tackle at Stanford, and again throughout training camp and the preseason. After T.J. Lang broke his foot during last season, Murphy began taking reps in practice at right guard. He was inactive for 15 games last season, and played a total of eight snaps.
Before the draft, Murphy was compared to Denver’s Ty Sambrailo by NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein. Sambrailo was selected out of Colorado State as an offensive tackle, but was moved to guard before last season. He started four games there in 2016.
In his college years at UCF, Josh Sitton played right tackle and both guard spots. T.J. Lang played the last 26 games of his college career at Eastern Michigan at left tackle, but moved to guard because it got him on the field sooner. 2006 second-round pick Daryn Colledge started four years at left tackle for Boise State, but moved to guard with the Packers.
Lucas Patrick - 25%
Patrick is a second-year guard from Duke who performed well enough in the preseason to stay on the practice squad all season long. In a recent profile by Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, it was revealed Patrick’s hand injury suffered in the preseason may have kept him from the 53-man roster.
No matter what you read about Patrick, it seems like he’s got the intangibles to succeed. Cohen reported Patrick worked hard during the season to soak up as much as he could from Lang, Taylor and offensive line coach James Campen.
We also came up with a pretty great nickname for Patrick last offseason.
Veteran free agent signing - 10%
The free agent market has produced its first fruits, but many quality players are still looking for homes. Among them is guard Jahri Evans, who may prove to be a good fit. Evans was a superstar guard during his prime, but age has limited his value in recent years.
Green Bay also kicked the tires on Byron Bell, an offensive lineman who played with both Carolina and Tennessee. Bell eventually signed with the Dallas Cowboys.
Jason Spriggs - 8%
Last season, Spriggs started in place of Lang and had an uneven game on Monday Night Football against the Philadelphia Eagles. Green Bay traded up to secure Spriggs in the second-round last year, and his skillset would be underserved as a guard. It’s more likely the Packers are using Spriggs as an insurance policy to either Bulaga or Bakhtiari.
Don Barclay - 5%
Barclay is a familiar name, and has been around the Packers as a utility lineman longer than most reserves. Initially, Barclay had the physical skills to play all five positions on the offensive line. After a knee injury, he now is relegated to playing guard or center.
The Packers dress seven offensive linemen for each game – most dress eight. Because of his versatility, his best role on the team may be as the first lineman off the bench.
Bryan Bulaga - 2%
Finally, starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga enters the fray with a measly two percent chance. Rumors swirled immediately after Lang’s departure that Bulaga could move to guard to allow Spriggs to start at right tackle.
Considering Bulaga’s status as a top-flight right tackle, it’s hard to see him changing positions.