When people think of the Green Bay Packers, the offensive line is usually the last thing they'll think about. That seems to happen when your quarterback is Aaron Rodgers, your best defensive player looks like Thor and you have the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year.
However, the Packers have quietly put together one of the most underrated, and one of the best, offensive lines in the league. They may not have All-Pro linemen, although they should, but few offensive lines play as well together as the one in Green Bay does.
The scary part is that the group is only going to get better. With the oldest starting offensive lineman only 28 years old and the rest of the group 26 years old or younger, some of these players haven't even gotten close to reaching their potential yet.
While most teams take pride in their offensive tackles being the best linemen on the team, the Packers have gone a different route. Their best offensive linemen reside at the guard position, and it isn't even close.
Both Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang are two of the best guards in the league. Just take a look at their grades from Pro Football Focus (subscription required) from last year:
|Player||Pass Block||Run Block||Overall Grade||NFL Rank|
Via Pro Football Focus
Sitton was the No. 2 overall guard, but his grade in pass protection was the best in the league. Lang used more of an all-around approach to land at the No. 15 spot on the list. Both players combined, however, form an extremely dominant duo.
Once you get past the guards for the Packers, it's all about potential. Rounding out the starting line is David Bakhtiari, JC Tretter and Bryan Bulaga.
Will Bulaga have a bounce-back year?
Bulaga is only 25 years old and is coming back from a knee injury that kept him out all of last season. However, when Bulaga was truly healthy, which was back in 2011, he was one of the better offensive tackles in the league. In fact, he finished that 2011 season as the No. 7 offensive tackle per Pro Football Focus.
As for Bakhtiari and Tretter, they have the ability to take the Packers offensive line to a whole other level.
Bakhtiari will only be 23 years old when the 2014 season is in full swing. While he struggled at times last year, he was also thrown into the fire from Week 1. Offensive line coach James Campen said Bakhtiari had a "very good season for a rookie," per Jason Wilde of ESPN Wisconsin.
Many expect him to take that leap, including Bakhtiari. He had this to say about his second year, per Wilde:
I had a great rookie year. That’s how I look at it. I had a great rookie year; I had an OK year as a player. But I don’t have that tag this year. I want people to be like, ‘He had a good year as a football player.’ Not rookie, not second-year, any of that. Throw all that out. He was a good player. He’s a guy we want on our team. I want the organization to want me here – want me at left tackle.
The final piece of the Packers offensive line also happens to be the biggest question mark. Tretter, the likely starting center, has never played center during any point in his football career. He's a high school tight end who played offensive tackle in college.
The good news is that Tretter seems to be picking up the position rather quickly. In fact, he's even earning high remarks from head coach Mike McCarthy:
McCarthy on JC Tretter: "He's doing a good job. He's been here everyday since the season ended and it has shown (on the field)."— Green Bay Packers (@packers) May 29, 2014
If Tretter can become solid at the center position, he could end up holding that position for the next decade. That would certainly be pleasing to quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has had a different center snap him the ball every year for the past three years.
When you combine the amount of current talent the Packers have with the potential for each of their starting offensive linemen, the sky is truly the limit for this group. We won't only be talking about the most underrated offensive line in the league at the end of the 2014 season, we'll be talking about the absolute best in the league.