Tackle always seems to come up as the most glaring need on the offensive line and maybe rightfully so. But you have to remember the unit as a whole was borderline terrible for the first half of the year and that blame can be placed across the board. Daryn Colledge was a disaster and Jason Spitz was not much better before injury ended his season. Scott Wells stepped admirably at center, but he was the same guy who couldn’t beat out Spitz in training camp. Either way the Packers need help on the interior, especially if Colledge decides to hold out (which we can’t say would be a bad thing).
This draft is loaded with top end talent at tackle, but only really two guys have gotten consistent first round grades so far from the guard/center position. Both of who could be available when pick #23 rolls around.
- Mike Iupati, G, Idaho
The numbers: 6-feet, 5-inches, 331 pounds…will turn 23 in May…three-year starter at Idaho and a team captain…2009 consensus 1st All-American…34 3/4 inch arm length…27 reps in bench press at combine
What he does that could work for the Packers: As seen by his measurables, Iupati has tremendous size and power. He is dominant in the run game and has good quickness and agility for pass protection. A proven leader, who has gotten better every season with the Vandals. Plays with a mean streak and is very explosive, which could be a benefit to the patient running style of Ryan Grant.
What he doesn’t do that could hurt the Packers: Quite frankly, Iupati may be too big to play guard in the zone blocking scheme. This is not necessarily a knock on him, he just might not have the speed to be a good fit. He is also fairly raw, only picking up the game at age 14 when his family moved from American Samoa. Communication may also be a problem since English is his second language. Still learning defensive schemes and may be a two-year project before he starts.
Final Thoughts: Iupati is very interesting prospect for the Packers. He is massive, strong, explosive and from all accounts someone who never takes a play off. His size is a definite hindrance for guard, but has worked out with HOF Jackie Slater for the tackle position. He is said to be versatile enough to play both, which Ted Thompson loves. Although he may not be able to start right away for the team, he may be too good of a talent with great upside and flexibility to pass up, especially if they are serious about moving him to tackle.
- Maurkice Pouncey, G/C, Florida
The numbers: 6-feet, 4-inches, 304 pounds…20 years old, forfeiting senior season…2009 Rimington Trophy winner (nation’s best center)…1st-team All-SEC and 2nd-team All-American…39 career starts for Gators…twin brother Mike plays offensive line for Florida and is a top 2011 prospect
What he does that could work for the Packers: Like Iupati, Pouncey is versatile. Unlike Iupati, Pouncey has experience at both center and guard. Experienced three-year starter from the premier college program. Very athletic and mobile with quick first step. Smart, instinctive player.
What he doesn’t do that could hurt the Packers: Does have some durability issues (where have we heard that one before?) after having surgery a year ago to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. However, recovered nicely last season. Needs to work on tenacity and ability to finish blocks.
Final Thoughts: Looks to be a better fit for the Packers than Iupati because of his smaller size, quickness and proven experience of playing both guard and center. The Packers could use another versatile guy like Pouncey and starting three years for the best program in college football does say something. No red flags or serious holes in his game and looks like to be a protypical fit in the zone blocking scheme. If there is a run on tackles, looks for the Packers to take a strong, hard look at Pouncey.
Just based on numbers alone, the Packers are probably more likely to draft a tackle than an interior lineman in the first round. If they pass on Iupati and/or Pouncey, there is a good chance those positions could be addressed later in the draft. Because we don’t want to leave any stone uncovered here, Chris will be back later today to break down some of the ‘under the radar’ interior lineman the team could be targeting.