Spriggs Won’t Sit For Long

General manager Ted Thompson didn’t boldly trade up in the second round of last year’s draft to select Jason Spriggs only to have him sit on the sidelines until he leaves as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. The former Indiana star will eventually be the team’s starting right tackle – it just won’t be this season.

That’s because of a couple of things. One, Spriggs didn’t play as well as expected as a rookie. And two, Bryan Bulaga played better than expected. Thus, things will almost certainly stay the same in ’17 – Bulaga will start for a  fourth consecutive season and Spriggs will again be the first tackle off the bench.

But 2018 figures to be a different story. Unless either Spriggs continues to struggle in his second season or Bulaga plays like Forrest Gregg reincarnate, I fully expect a changing of the tackle to take place. What that would mean for Spriggs is pretty obvious, but what that would mean for Bulaga is not nearly so clear.

There’s a chance the coaches could ask Bulaga to slide a few feet to his left and play right guard, a possibility that would increase should the position still be unsettled a year from now. While the former Iowa star is clearly best suited for the outside, it’s hard to imagine him not being better inside than the likes of Don Barclay, Lucas Patrick, Kyle Murphy, Justin McCray or a player picked on day 3 of next month’s draft.

There’s also a chance the 28-year-old Bulaga could be traded or even released if his play slips a bit in 2017. His salary cap number will be over $8 million a year from now, and while that’s not exorbitant, it could be more than the Packers are willing to pay. And considering all the wear and tear his body has been through since entering the National Football League in 2010, it’s not hard to imagine Bulaga slipping a bit.

Of course, all of this is predicated on Spriggs showing a lot of improvement this season. He struggled as a rookie with speed and especially power. That wasn’t at all shocking considering he weighed barely 300 pounds by the end of camp and his technique was extremely inconsistent. But Spriggs has the frame to put on weight, and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see him closer to 315 pounds a year or so from now.

At that size, along with extremely quick feet, really long arms and a willingness to finish, Spriggs would possess all the physical attributes needed to excel at right tackle. He’d also be a much younger, much healthier and much cheaper alternative to Bulaga. That’s why Thompson did something he rarely does (trade up in an early round) and it’s why there’s little chance of Spriggs staying on the bench after this season.

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Michael Rodney

Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.

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March 31, 2017 3:35 pm

Bulaga has struggled sliding to the outside since all those knee injuries. He seemed to bounce back from that last year, but moving inside could prolong his career.

March 31, 2017 5:06 pm

McCarthy said Bulaga had his best year at RT last season and has no plans to move him inside. That’s fine but if Spriggs shows he can handle RT and no one steps up at RG, they better move Bulaga inside.

April 1, 2017 12:36 am

TJV has got it right, assuming Spriggs can handle RT. After last season that is a big assumption. We will see.

April 1, 2017 2:37 pm

Another +1 to TJV’s post. You gotta put your best 5 on the field and I can not imagine a scenario where Barclay is one of GBs best 5 offensive linemen.

April 2, 2017 12:01 pm

No 2nd year jump for Spriggs spells disaster for our OL. I hope to goodness he’s not another Colledge or Klemm if he does play G.

Based on Year 1 you’d have to say Spriggs bust potential is high.

I don’t think it’ll prove to be errant that Spriggs won’t come close to providing what Lang did this year if not every year.

Bulaga is another failed first rounder to me. He was drafted in Round 1 to be a LT and he never was good enough. Spriggs is another high pick that was drafted to play G? We used a trade up and a Top 50 pick to select a LT to play G when we wouldn’t pay Lang? Couldn’t have been the plan but let me channel Ted and say…That’s just kinda the way it worked out.

Oh, and before TJV blasts me for calling Bulaga a failed first rounder by quoting PFF saying what a great RT he is… Bulaga was taken over Dez Bryant to be our LT. He was a failure there. The fact he was a good RT doesn’t nullify we burned a 1st to take a mash unit RT with very limited athleticism.

Our “plan” for the OL doesn’t appear well thought out and I hope it doesn’t get Aaron placed on IR by Week 4.

April 2, 2017 1:03 pm

You make a lot of silly comments but this one takes the cake. Congratulations, Thorny.

April 2, 2017 7:38 pm

What’s silly? Comments like yours are pointless and nebulous.

1) You don’t think Spriggs bust potential is high after seeing his ineffective first season?

2) You don’t think it would be disastrous to this OL this season if Spriggs doesn’t improve?

3) You think Spriggs will come close to giving us what Lang gave us or would give us this season?

4) You don’t think Bulaga is a failed first round pick? (You don’t pick RT’s that high in the draft, especially when there is a game changing WR on the board…Bulaga couldn’t handle speed and athleticism so he was moved to an auxiliary location. Ever seen that before? Hello failed Datone Jones, etc. You would likely be in the camp that AJ Hawk wasn’t a wasted 5th overall…a disaster for a 5th overall but a lot worse than Bulaga’s failure at LT. My guess is you’ll tell me Bulaga is only at RT because Bakhtiari is so excellent at LT?)

5) We traded up for Spriggs…Why? Unsure about Bakhtiari? Wanted LT protection? That makes sense. So, then go and pay the LT already on the roster because he actually is quite good. Where’s the art of evaluation and projection? What doesn’t make sense is letting an all pro guard leave and a versatile backup so we can slide a Top 50 trade up into a GUARD position…that’s just plain wasteful like Bulaga. It’s like a draft board…Bulaga is a terrible value to this team for where he was drafted and where he plays…same will go for Spriggs even if he’s a fine guard but just not as bad because he’s not a 1st rounder. No foresight. No evaluation skills and then you end up using a guy for a position that made sense to do what you did and move him into one where you could’ve used a 4th rounder. It’s like drafting a 4th rounder talent by trading up in Round 2. It’s maddening.

6) The biggest issue of all relates to our “plan”. Did you happen to listen to Ted at the owners meeting? I invite you to scroll the audio to 7 minutes in and listen to the rest…if you honestly believe this guy sounds like an NFL GM, please, let me know, and I’ll fully understand why you think what I say is silly. “That’s just kinda the way it worked out.” Aloof, like ah, what the heck, that’s just what happened…It’s not like I’m the GM and could actually have done something about it…I was just a victim in this whole thing and I didn’t want it to happen. I loved Micah Hyde…loved him so much I didn’t make him an offer. Th guy honestly worries me. There was talk of him maybe having a stoke not too long ago…he sounds like he needs to be put out to pasture. I was embarrassed as a Packers fan listening to him speak the owners meeting.

April 3, 2017 10:48 am


If Spriggs doesn’t start on the OL of course that does not spell disaster for the OL. What if a rookie steps in at RG and plays well – or well enough? What if Murphy, Patrick, or McCray do? According to you, if Spriggs has a serious injury in TC, the Packers OL will be doomed. How foolish.

Spriggs’ bust potential is high? That’s another foolish statement. He has to gain weight and work on his technique. Of course there are no guarantees but those are two things he certainly should be able to accomplish. As Michael wrote, he’s got the frame to add weight, quick feet, and long arms to play OT. And is there any indication he’s unwilling to work at improving? BTW, what gave you the idea Spriggs will be playing OG? You mention it several times but you made it up, apparently because reality isn’t negative enough for you. Michael and I talked about Bulaga moving to OG, not Spriggs.

Why did Thompson trade up for Spriggs? Because having legitimate depth at OT is a great idea – any Packers fan paying attention should realize that. And Bulaga will need to be replaced in the near future.

Bulaga is failed first rounder? More foolishness. He’s started 88 games for the Packers (12 in the playoffs) and the biggest knock on him is his injury history. BTW, you must have thought Mike Wahle was a failure too – picked in the supplemental draft in the second round, Wahle was drafted as a OT but only became a great OG. Another failed pick, right?

I don’t know where you got the idea I quote PFF a lot – I’m much more likely to quote McGinn than PFF. But you don’t want me to recite some of the things McGinn has written about Bulaga. I use the word “foolish” instead of “silly” to describe some of your points, but I get Shaun’s point.

April 3, 2017 12:01 pm

TJV expressed my sentiments perfectly.

April 4, 2017 1:35 am

Shaun… I still fail to understand why you commented here? Twitter would be better for inane one liners.

TJV… Do you think Spriggs is going to sit this year? Have you followed the Packers much the last 12 years? A high pick is going to play minus injuries. It’s what we do. Spriggs only played as little as he did because he wasn’t good. You don’t think they just might try Spriggs at G? Did it with Sherrod. If the average NFL draftee has a 50% or more chance to bust, and some arbitrary draftee doesn’t show positive signs, in year one, it follows that his bust potential is high as it’s already up there before he plays a down.

It is disastrous if a trade up 2nd rounder does nothing again. Oh sure, you’re right…We could find another Sam Shields UDFA, but the odds are low. I don’t believe Spriggs was drafted to be Bulaga’s successor. I explained why I believe we traded up to get him. To play LT… Bakhtiari insurance. Bakhtiari proved more than capable got a nice extension nullifying the need to have traded up to take Spriggs. Now, the narrative is being redirected much like it was when Bulaga was drafted. Both Spriggs and Bulaga were drafted high because of the (misguided​) belief that they were going to be answers at LT. Bulaga was a high pick so he’s gonna play. Just like Spriggs will. Same as Richard Rodgers, Datone Jones, etc. The fact BB turned into a good right tackle will never take away that he was a failed first round LT prospect. The fact he’s playing RT tells you that. Not silly at all. You just happen to have a different perspective. The guy at RT could’ve​ been a mid rounder, and as capable, and we could have Dez Bryant in our WR corps. Nope we wasted a first round selection for a guy who couldn’t do what he was drafted to do. If Aaron Rodgers flamed out at QB but turned out to be quite a solid punter, I would lament a wasted first rounder to find a guy to play a position that could’ve and should’ve been found later in the draft.

Tretter was a fine RT replacement, in my opinion. I bristle at the idea it was a good idea to trade up in Round 2 for Bulaga’s replacement?! You need to get clear on why we moved up to take Spriggs. Our opinions may differ as to that but I hope you can see mine a little better.

April 4, 2017 11:01 am

You contradicted yourself: If the average NFL draftee has a 50% or more chance to bust, how can it be disastrous if one does? Here’s another: You say Thompson traded up to get Spriggs “to play LT … Bakhtiari insurance”, and then complain he didn’t start as a rookie. If Spriggs improves that’s exactly the spot he will fill: insurance at both OT spots. Did you really expect him to take Bakhtiari’s spot last year? Bakhtiari is really f’ing good if you hadn’t noticed. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to have three OTs capable of starting, particularly when one is on his rookie contract. Of course Spriggs could bust. But declaring him a bust after his rookie season is foolish; worse than declaring Davante Adams a bust after his second season.

BTW, finding a starting OG in the middle rounds is not analogous to finding Shields as a UDFA: Bakhtiari, Tretter, Sitton, and Lang were fourth rounders and Lindsley was a fifth rounder.

Why did Thompson trade up for Spriggs? After watching every Thompson draft I think the answer is clear: Because the Packers were very thin at OT. And because they determined the grade they assigned him put him in a higher talent tier than the players available if they had stayed at pick #57. It’s a myth that Thompson drafts BPA (no GM does) but he is more disciplined than the majority of GMs. He probably saw a player with a near first round grade at a position of need in the middle of the second round and went up and got him. Even if their evaluation of the player was wrong, I won’t criticize the usually risk-averse Thompson for taking a risk. And it wasn’t much of a risk: He traded his fourth rounder to move up but had two comp picks at the end of the fourth round. He also traded his last pick, #248 which was 6 picks away from the UDFAs. And he exercised seven picks in that draft.

Calling Bulaga a failed pick and using words like disastrous regarding something you admit happens more than 50% of the time shows your bias. As I’ve written before, there are plenty of legitimate criticisms of the Packers organization, I think exaggerating as you frequently do is not only unnecessary, it lessens the points you attempt to make.

Nick Perry
April 4, 2017 12:11 pm

Interesting take on Bulaga and why he isn’t playing LT. I always thought it was because he injured his knee at family night and missed the 2013 season. Lucky for the Packers they had drafted Bakhtiari in the 4th that same year and were able to plug him in. Since he did okay in his rookie year the Packers moved Bulaga back to RT in 2014 and he’s been solid as hell since. Bulaga STARTED as a rookie himself when Tauscher was injured and they won a SB. He may have been drafted to play LT but it hasn’t been a case of “He Can’t” but more of why move him if they don’t need to.

April 4, 2017 1:33 pm

Great summation TJV on Thorny.
“As I’ve written before, there are plenty of legitimate criticisms of the Packers organization, I think exaggerating as you frequently do is not only unnecessary, it lessens the points you attempt to make.”

I’m actually surprised at how quickly the bust talk comes out from people like Thorny who claim to watch a lot of football. If we just look at OL over the years in GB, I can name Wahle, Rivera, Lang, Wells, etc just off the top of my head who really didn’t come into their own in year 3 or later. If you have followed the Packers, you should know this so let’s stop at bust after one year. Will there be some Sherrod’s? Of course.

Heck, if you look at Jordy Nelson’s stats the first 3 years you would have said the same thing. Let him walk.

Bulaga certainly is not a bust. Is he a great player? No? Above average yes, but agreed not likely living up to a first round pick, but certainly not a disastrous pick by any means.

On the Spriggs pick, he clearly was an insurance pick. One that is important in particular when you have an elite QB. What if Bak or Bulaga would have went down last year? We would have been in a tight spot (Tretter could have filled in I suppose). There is no way Bak or Bulaga will go through another season without an injury and with Spriggs hitting year 2, hopefully he is ready to step in if needed when an injury occurs.

April 4, 2017 3:36 pm

I never said Spriggs would bust. I said his potential to bust is quite high based on his first year performance. It isn’t? That sounds like sentimentality based on the fact he’s a Packer than anything else. The higher you’re picked, theoretically, should lower your bust factor. However, lower picks aren’t looked at as busts because they’re lower picks. Spriggs is a high pick TRADE UP. A TOP 50.

It is not a contradiction to say most picks have a 50% bust rate and then say it’s disastrous if a guy YOU TRADED UP FOR busts. I understand that many guys will bust. Do you? When you TRADE UP and one busts it’s disastrous because your TRADE UP is doubling down that you really think the guy won’t. If he does and he’s a high pick like Spriggs that is disastrous TO ME.

Do you understand why it’s disastrous now? You’ve left out the whole TRADE UP angle which is highly germane to my perspective but I understand when you’re throwing labels and insults it’s easy to not carefully consider an argument counter to yours.

I don’t care who overcame a poor first year to excel later. That’s not relevant. For every guy you can name who overcame I can likely name more who didn’t. Hence, 50% or more commentary above. Cherry picking to try and prove a point does more to damage a point than you saying my “hyperbole” or “exaggeration” does.

MR is not a typical fan, nor is a guy like McGinn. These are the mentalities I gravitate toward. McGinn isn’t a fan at all…he just does his job. MR is a fan but has an objectivity zone not found in many other fans or thought givers on the Packers. Most who comment here are homers and that skews their opinion to something wholly invaluable at least to me. I worked in media for a number of years and learned how to see my team as if I wasn’t a fan of them. I don’t look to judge them positively or negatively just as I truly see them leaving bias out as much as humanly possible.

Here’s some facts that have been glossed over. Bakhtiari starts at LT because why? He’s BETTER at LT than Bulaga. Our 4th rounder is better than our 1st rounder who was drafted to be our LT. Don’t gloss over that fact. Our highly touted first rounder is not as good as our 4th rounder. If he was, he’d be playing LT, but he’s not very good so he isn’t. I dislike that and it’s compounded by the fact Dez Bryant was there and we took a RT type thinking he could play LT in Round 1. Round 1 is for make hey type players. Bulaga is NOT that. He was a dreaded “safe” pick. Meaning little upside and little downside. He’s been a nice player…just not the kind you’re shooting for in Round 1. I do not subscribe to the “that’s just kinda the way it worked out” mentality of our GM. It shouldn’t have worked out that way. Bulaga should’ve never been drafted to be our LT in the first round so him being a nice RT doesn’t register with me for what he was drafted in Round 1 to do. Do you want the Packers taking a G or RT this year in Round 1? If not, you begin to understand my perspective.

Spriggs is a guy who was TRADED UP for…he better be really good. Clay was traded up for…he delivered. Spriggs was traded up for and SO FAR the early returns aren’t positive. He is very likely to be tried at G because of the dearth of options there. By options, I mean truly viable options. Not guys on the roster that you can list for me that every team in the league has on their depth charts.

We have Lane freaking Taylor as a starter in place of Sitton. Now, we have ???? in place of Lang? Here comes the annual experimenting in OTA’s and TC. A high pick like Spriggs is going to be tried there so we can “get the best 5 out there” especially because he was a high pick trade up. I would prefer Bulaga play G but I’ll bet Spriggs gets the first crack there.

Finally, TJV, you have rewritten the debate narrative with this:

***You say Thompson traded up to get Spriggs “to play LT … Bakhtiari insurance”, and then complain he didn’t start as a rookie. If Spriggs improves that’s exactly the spot he will fill: insurance at both OT spots. Did you really expect him to take Bakhtiari’s spot last year? Bakhtiari is really f’ing good if you hadn’t noticed. ***

—Yup, I did notice. I also noticed where you haven’t that Spriggs was traded up for because the org wasn’t sure on Bakhtiari or if they were as insurance in case they couldn’t sign him. In either case, the drafting of Spriggs looks dumb. Spriggs is NOT our LT…Bakhtiari is because LATER they were confident in Bakh and ended up extending him. Had he been extended prior to the draft is Spriggs traded up for? I highly doubt it. You’re going to trade up in Round 2 to draft a backup for a guy you just gave the moon to? No. If Bakhtiari not gained enough of their confidence Spriggs would’ve been the replacement there…he would’ve failed and failed miserably making his trade up selection look really bad. Had our org done it’s job and evaluated that Bakhtiari WAS our LT of the future before the draft there is no trade up for Spriggs unless they thought they couldn’t sign him. They did sign him in September making Spriggs trade up look even less sensible. It’s all in the timing and understanding of what happened and why.

April 4, 2017 5:46 pm

I didn’t ‘rewrite the debate narrative’, I quoted what you wrote and responded to it. I don’t think the organization was unsure about Bakhtiari – read what McGinn has to say about Bakhtiari in his report card column after the 2015 season. Bakhtiari was getting extended – unless he wanted out of Green Bay. You really think they were going to let a 25-year old LT who had already played in 50 games and was getting better every season test free agency this year?

Would they have drafted Spriggs if Bakhtiari signed before the draft? Yes I think they would have because of Bulaga’s injury history (he missed 4 games in 2015) and because they didn’t have a legit backup OT. And you’re making way too much about the !!!TRADE UP!!!! Thompson gave up pick #125 in the fourth round, but had comp picks #131 and #137. So, he “went down” 6 picks at the end of the fourth round in order to go up 9 picks in the second round. And he gave up pick #248 in a 253-pick draft. In other words, instead of signing Geronimo as a UDFA, maybe they draft him at #248?

There are objective fans posting here but in my opinion you are not one of them. Your bias is the opposite of a homer: Just as biased, but in the other direction.

April 4, 2017 11:02 pm

What bias do you see from me? One that is too critical for your tastes?

Why did it take until September to extend Bakhtiari?

I’m really trying to get at the why of Spriggs drafting in a trade up? I don’t believe this had a single thing to do with Bryan Bulaga. Tretter could’ve played RT but now that they took Spriggs and extended Bakh Tretter was expendable to the org. Spriggs was billed as a quality LT. The guys who play RT in the NFL are the ones who can’t play LT. No way to justify that Spriggs was drafted to play RT. It seems illogical but again that’s just how it might work out.

Of course, the biggest departure for me vs. the masses is how our leadership is viewed. McGinn is the one guy I really relate to, and MR on Twitter but not the MR here. The faction I belong to is growing. That’s a great thing. Less than 2 years and counting until better days in Green Bay.

April 5, 2017 12:02 am

Jesus Thorny. You wrote that long diatribe for not getting the point.

I’ll one up you and say that 75% are probably going to be busts. However your statement around Springs has high potential to bust is ridiculous. He wasn’t drafted to start last year and didn’t play a lot of snaps to throw out bust accusations.

I personally don’t have an opinion on which way he’ll go yet because he has only one year under his belt and not a lot of playing time.

BTW, sorry your comprehension is low, but I would say many of us are balanced in our views. I know I am and have ripped TT more than a few times here.

As TJV said, you’re just the opposite of a homer, with only whiny negative comments. Every bit as annoying as the rose colored fans on Packers.com.

April 5, 2017 9:47 pm

I miss Archie. Just call me Jughead.

Negativity? This is my perspective. Not trying to be positive or negative.

Sorry, for beating a dead horse but when you don’t feel your point is understood or dismissed you do things like this. I’ll try limiting my replies to one but difficult when those replies are being rebuttal​ed.

I’ve been to about every Packers comment section and this blog is incredibly different. Most Packer comment sections may as well be a bunch of Wes Hodkiewiecz’s and Larry McCarren’s. This is the opposite of state run media, here.

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