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Did Packers Lose Out on Drafting a Center?

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Did Packers Lose Out on Drafting a Center?

The 2013 NFL Draft is now two weeks old, and this column might be a day late and a dollar short, but I don't think this is a topic that should be swept under the rug and ignored.

I previously questioned whether the Packers lost out on selecting now St. Louis Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey with the 93rd pick in the third round of draft.

Now it's time to speculate whether the Packers made a mistake in misjudging the market for centers in the fourth round.

The Packers entered the draft with center as an obvious need. Evan Dietrich-Smith signed his one-year restricted free agent tender in early April and enters the season as the only legitimate center on the team's roster.

There was an opportunity for the Packers to sign Dietrich-Smith to a multi-year extension during the offseason, but either they or Dietrich-Smith chose not to.

Perhaps "EDS" wants to test the free agent market next season, but more realistically, the Packers declined to offer more than a one-year deal, or at least offered less than what Dietrich-Smith was seeking.

Essentially, Dietrich-Smith enters a "prove it" season. His future with the Packers will lie largely on how he performs in 2013. If he wants to sign a long-term contract with the Packers, he's going to have to earn it.

But the Packers also entered the draft knowing they don't have a center locked up beyond 2013. At the very least, you would think they'd be looking to add depth, a just-in-case insurance policy at the center position.

The third day of the draft would seem to be the perfect time to add such a player, a low-risk alternative who could possibly become a starter a year down the road.

The Packers entered the fourth round with three draft choices: 4.12, 4.25 and 4.28.

With the 10th choice in the first round, pick 107 overall, the Tennessee Titans took California center Brian Schwenke, so the Packers didn't have the opportunity to take the second true center to come off the board after the Dallas Cowboys took Wisconsin's Travis Frederick in the first round.

Two picks later, Green Bay made Colorado tackle David Bakhtiari their first of three fourth round picks, passing on taking either Alabama's Barrett Jones or USC's Khaled Holmes.

If the Packers were banking on either Jones or Holmes being available with their second pick in the fourth round, they missed out.

Jones was selected by the Rams with pick 4.16 (113 overall), and Holmes was taken by the Indianapolis Colts with pick 4.24 (121 overall), exactly one slot before the Packers took J.C. Tretter with pick 4.25.

There's speculation that the Packers will convert Tretter into a center just as they've done with other college left tackles in the past, but the question is whether Tretter is the consolation prize. Did they really covet Jones or Holmes?

Admittedly, this is all speculation on my part. The Packers got their man with the first pick in the fourth round in Bakhtiari. They had the opportunity to take Jones or Holmes at that point and decided to take a pass.

But will it end up being a mistake?

When Dietrich-Smith is a free agent a year from now, it's worth asking whether the Packers will have to overpay simply because they have no other choice.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (37) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremy's picture

Queue Cow rant here...

PackerPete's picture

nah - Jones or Holmes weren't drafted by the 49ers or Seahawks or Vikings, so they can't really be good players.

Point Packer's picture

Good point Packer Pete, those guys must be garbage.

To that end, I still can't believe the Packer extended Aaron Rodger's contract. What a joke...

cow42's picture

i never suggested not resigning Rodgers.
that'd be stupid.

just pointed out that doing so would hamper the acquisition of talented players,

Point Packer's picture

No, you just criticized it. Which is and was stupid. Like 95% of your comments on this site - "stupid".

cow42's picture

hated holmes and jones.
loved schwenke.

I think the Packers went into the draft with immediate needs at...

S
C
DL
RB

Packers thought differently (multiple 2 year projects and possible special teams contributors seemed to be higher priorities).

Can't wait to see EDS, McMillian, Jennings... hope the packers are right about 'em... lot hinging on it.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Cow. I agree with your take on Holmes, Jones and Schwenke. I hated holmes and Jones. although I think holmes might have been better just because I believe he was hurt most of his senior year. Jones I was not impressed with at all. Schwenke would have loved.

I don't know what their plan is with Tretter (I have heard possibly putting him at Guard/Center). I would have liked to have seen them get schwenke because I believe he could have came in and started right away for them.

I will say I didn't like EDS at all. Until he went in at center for Saturday and that really changed the o-lines performance over the last couple of weeks. I believe he can be a good center now. TJ Lang played a lot better after EDS started.

Right now I think Thompson wants to give McMillan the shot to win the starting spot. (most players develop the most from year 1 to year 2). I believe he is counting on McMillan to become the starting safety. And if he doesn't I am guessing he will be looking for free agents or looking at players that get cut from other teams after training camp.

ArodMoney's picture

Didn't Green Bay enter the 4th round with only 4.12 and 4.25 and then they later traded up for 4.28 when they saw Franklin still available?

CSS's picture

Take if for what it's worth, but didn't Mel Kiper's final Center positional draft rankings as 1) Fredrick; 2) Schwenke; 3) Tretter? He spoke as though Tretter had a higher ceiling than either one as a byproduct of his athletic ability.

I realize they're only highlights from the scouting combine, but compare Tretter's movement skills to Fredrick and Schwenke. They may be more established against better competition, but the athletic ability and movement in space isn't even close. It's Tretter by a wide margin.

Will be interesting to see what the Packers plan on doing with him.

P.S. - I've watched Holmes play a ton, he's awful. Played like an undrafted free agent. Barrett Jones may be versatile, but you've seen the best of him. He's at his ceiling.

bryce's picture

Good thoughts. I think you actually swayed my opinion there.

Captain Lou's picture

I think the real issue is if trading out of the third round cost them Schwenke. Had they stayed put at #93, they'd have him. Now I know they used one of those extra picks to get Franklin, but they could have sacrificed their own 5th rounder for that. So I guess the question is, would you rather have Brian Schwenke solo or a combination of JC Tretter and Micah Hyde?

Evan's picture

Do we have to answer now or can we get back to you in 3-4 years?

Captain Lou's picture

Now! Always now! No time to be thoughtful and patient when you're a sports fan in 2013!

Fludoc's picture

Tretter is a brainiac. He'll be great at figuring out blocking assignments.

Mojo's picture

Just about every center, whether it be in college or the pros, started out as either guards or tackles. Not at all a big deal to move Tretter or Bakhtiari to center. They would just need to add some fat & muscle. They're actually a little taller than Schwenke. In fact, outside of Sherrod, Bulaga, Newhouse and Datko, I'd say all the remaining o-lineman could be converted to center if the Pack wanted to go that route. And I'm guessing they'd play pretty well doing it. I think center is one of the teams least things to worry about.

Evan's picture

I was actually wondering about that. It seems every year there are fewer and fewer bonafide college centers coming out. I wonder out of the 32 starting NFL centers, how many played center full-time in college.

CSS's picture

Most college teams take their best athletes at that stage in the game and place them at tackle or guard. More often than not, the guy on your line playing center in college is there by default because he's your least athletic guy that's already at his ceiling (and he's protected by a more athletic guard on either side of him). So, they're the best of the worst on their own team (in general) before even getting dissected by the draft process.

With the most athletic kids now playing defensive line, end and linebacker in college (and the pros) you have no choice but to look at former guards and tackles in the college ranks.

MarkinMadison's picture

I was bummed that the Packers went with Bakhtiari over Jones. Jones made a ton of sense to me because of his versatility and proven ability to play center on what was basically an NFL line last year at Alabama. I hear what you are saying about the centers usually being the lesser athletes, but Jones played all over and he succeeded at every position handed to him.

All of that said, I think it was Carriveau who first hit me with the idea that Tretter could be the #3 center in the draft. If that works out, that's great.

Either way, I am not sold on Bakhtiari. I don't know where he fits in for the Packers. Looks too light to be a dominant guard or tackle. I agree with the Daryn College comparisions - looks like the same guy.

Stroh's picture

Your bummed about not getting a Colledge-clone? That's who NFL.com compared Barrett Jones to. Daryn Colledge.

MarkinMadison's picture

Colledge didn't play center. I don't know how you compare a guy coming out as a T with a guy coming into the league as a C. Some guys can make the transition across the line, but they are really a different set of ideal skills and physical attributes that you are looking for. And it really kind of dodges the point I was making, Stroh. Where does Bakhtiari fit in with this group, and how does he provide more value at that pick than Jones?

Stroh's picture

Jones was compared to Colledge in style of play. And Jones was a C/OG, while Colledge played OT in college, so did Jones. Both are interior OL guys in the NFL. So their NFL positions are similar. Comparison seems fair to me!

Captain Lou's picture

I'm sure you can get a serviceable guy to play center, but most of the better centers I can think of played center in college -- Jake Wood, Ryan Kalil, Alex Mack, Nick Hardwick, the Pouncey twins. The only one I can think of who didn't play center in college is Max Unger of the Seahawks.

Lars's picture

Again, with the the center meme? "If the Packers were banking on..." Well, there's also the distinct possibility they had zero interest in B. Jones, the injured, low-ceiling C from Alabama, or Holmes. Schwenke was the surprise to me. If they were thinking C you'd think they just grab him with the R3 pick.

Could it be the center position, like S, did not offer the players the Packers wanted in the draft so they weren't going to force the pick?

We'll never know, but I guess we'll keep hearing the second guessing because when the media/blogs think you should do something enough to predict it, they don't like to look uniformed about the team they spend so much time covering. Kind of like Jonathan Franklin having graduated already and being eleigible to participate in OTA's after all. ;))

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

"Could it be the center position, like S, did not offer the players the Packers wanted in the draft so they weren’t going to force the pick?"

Absolutely. If they liked them, and thought the value was there, they would have drafted them.

WTX_Cheesehead's picture

I'm pretty sure TT has NEVER drafted a pure Center, so I was not surprised that we didn't select one. (Wells was a Sherman pick.)

THEMichaelRose's picture

I believe Wells was also a G when drafted. Could be wrong. Not going to take the 2 minutes to look it up and make sure.

Stroh's picture

Wells was a Center at Tenn.

THEMichaelRose's picture

Okay, now I had to look it up.
That may be true, but he could still have been "drafted as a" G. See pick #251 here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_NFL_Draft
NFL teams probably viewed him as a utility lineman at the time.

Stroh's picture
Lou's picture

At least they didn't reach like the Cowboys did taking a 3rd/4th round projected center in the first round. You pull for a guy cut by the Packers and Seahwawks who ended up starting last year, remember that Wells started on the practice squad as a rookie but was a top center when he left so EDS deserves that opportunity, and based on his early signing of the tender it looks like he will not hold them up at the end of the season if he plays well. By the way, Wells was basically the only Mike Sherman draft pick besides Nick Barnett that was worth anything at all, all you Thompson haters take a look back, he was utterly incapable of the job.

Stroh's picture

I would say the Cowboys overdrafted Frederick for sure. But he certainly wasn't a 3rd/4th round reach. Most thought solid 2nd and I saw some mocks that had him in the 1st. They might have been able to move down 5-7 spots and still gotten Frederick, but probably not much further.

DraftHobbyist's picture

Both Tretter and Bakhtiari can play C IMO, although Bakhtiari's long-term position is probably OT (although a lot of people really disagree on where he fits because some think he's best for OG and I think that's probably his worst position).

Barrett Jones was extremely overrated by fans. I'm glad we dodged that bullet. Khaled Holmes and Matt Barkley had a lot of fumbled snaps together, and I have to think some of that was on Holmes...probably most of it. He had injury problems, and his passion for football was questioned. If the passion part is accurate, that's only going to become a bigger deal going from college to the NFL.

Nononsense's picture

I just hope they put JC Tretter at Center and keep him there if thats ultimately his position. Let him and EDS compete for the job and whoever loses stays at C as the backup.

We have enough swing guys on the roster to deal with injuries at other positions but the Center position needs at least one dedicated backup IMO. Hes the QB of the OL and should get every rep there he can throughout the Mincamps OTAs and TC so hes ready to step right in if the starter goes down for more than a game.

I don't care if hes inactive the entire year until injury strikes and we have to make due for part of a game with Lang or somebody else at C. At least he will be prepared to start the following week and longer if needed.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

I'd be down with that.

Jamie's picture

I'm not a fan of these hypotheticals that surmise that the Packers coveted a guy, or guys, yet gambled by passing on them earlier in the draft.

If they liked a guy that much, they would have used an earlier pick to take him.

The reality is, no teams liked the Centers near as much as the everyday draftnik. The question of 'should the Packers have drafted so-and-so at ### instead of waiting until ###?' is really naive to the reality of the situation.

madmanJack's picture

i liked the Tretter pick. he'll most likely end up at center but he can play ALL the OL positions...and very smart. wasn't that high on Jones....loved Schwenke but he was gone. i was more bummed about missing on Stedman Bailey to the Rams....grrrrrrr!

RJ's picture

Here are the picks I would have made with the choices Ted Thompson had:

1. Datone Jones, DE 6-4/280 4.8 - protect the edge
2. Eddie Lacy, RB 5-11/230 4.6 - workhorse for run game
3. Barrett Jones, C 6-4/300 5.4 - proven center, known as being a cerebral player who offers versatility and is insuraance at vital center position
4. Jesse Williams, NT 6-4/320 5.0 - best interior defender left at this stage of draft with more height than any of Packs' current interior players
5. Jonathan Franklin, RB 5-10/200 4.5 - change of pace back with some return skills
6. Mich Hyde, DB 6-0/205 4.55 or Daimian Stafford S - need pick to add depth to defensive backfield
7. Xavier Nixon, OT 6-6/310 or Alvin Bailey OG 6-4/310 - players with more of a mean streak and better size than much of the options the Pack currently has for the OL, at least they will add camp competition
8. Joe Kruger, DE 6-7/275 4.9 - besides Datone Jones the Pack needs some size/height on the edge to help with pass rush and bat down passes
9. Charles Johnson, WR 6-2/215 4.4 Pack needs WR with speed to open up the field and give Rodgers downfield options
10. Da'Rick Rogers, WR 6-2/215 some draft analysts rated Rogers talent ahead of almost all WRs, including former Tenn. teammates Cordarelle Patterson and Justin Hunter
11. David Bass, OLB 6-4/260 4.65 phenomonal numbers for sacks/passes broken up, interceptions for OLB, albeit at a small school with presumably lesser level of competion

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