What has the Green Bay Packers' recent run of success brought them? Among other things: Low-enough draft position to wind up with three college left tackles whose NFL futures either have or might lead to another position.
Sitting at No. 23 overall in 2009, the Packers drafted Iowa's Bryan Bulaga, now their right tackle. The '09 fifth round brought TCU's Marshall Newhouse, the starter for most of 2011 and all of 2012 but one whose future remains in doubt. In 2011, the Packers used the No. 32 overall pick on Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod, who worked at both guard and tackle before breaking his leg late that season. He is still recovering from that injury.
As we've discussed many times, the only way to find a surefire left tackle is to have a top-10 pick in the draft. The position is so difficult to fill that the league is spreading into two categories. One consists of teams with a left tackle and the other with someone who is trying to make it work at the position.
The Packers fall into the latter category with Newhouse, and so it's not totally surprising to see ESPN analyst Todd McShay assign them Florida State right tackle Menelik Watson with the No. 26 overall pick in his latest mock draft. Selecting Watson would give the Packers the option of moving Bulaga to left tackle, an option coach Mike McCarthy has not ruled out in offseason interviews.
Speaking last month at the NFL owners meeting, McCarthy said he thought Newhouse graded out "OK" last season and added: "We need some improvement from the left side of our line."
The smoothest scenario would be better play from Newhouse, which would prevent moving Bulaga back to a position he hasn't played in four years. But the draft's top three left tackles -- Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan's Eric Fisher and Oklahoma's Lane Johnson -- will be long gone by the time the Packers' No. 26 pick arrives.
Barring a trade, the 2013 draft might not offer the Packers a strong opportunity to elevate their situation at left tackle.