On Friday, left tackle David Bakhtiari of the Green Bay Packers was named first-team AP All-Pro. This is the third straight year that Bakhtiari was named to the AP All-Pro team, but in both 2016 and 2017, he was named to the second team.
The honor given to Bakhtiari is rightly deserved, although you wouldn’t know it based on the fact that he was not even named to the Pro Bowl this year. No. 69 was named to the Pro Bowl squad in 2016.
Pro Football Focus also rated him the best offensive tackle in the NFL in 2018. Here is what Austin Gayle of PFF wrote about Bakhtiari:
Bakhtiari is in a league of his own when it comes to pass protection. He was the only offensive tackle with at least 350 pass-block snaps to earn a pass-blocking grade above 86.8 in 2018, allowing just 28 total pressures across his 737 pass-blocking snaps.
PFF also ranks Bakhtiari high in his run-blocking as well.
Since 2013, which was Bakhtiari’s rookie year, the former Colorado Buffalo has started 90 out of a possible 96 games (94 percent). Bakhtiari has played hurt as well, as he has gone out on the field with ankle, knee and hamstring injuries.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has to feel very fortunate to have such a capable pass-blocker protecting his blind side.
That is not always the case at right tackle for Rodgers. The reason? Bryan Bulaga is often injured and not able to play. Bulaga is a very capable right tackle when healthy, but that’s the problem. When healthy are the two key words.
Since 2010, Bulaga has started 95 of a possible 140 games (68 percent). Over the past two years, No. 75 has only been able to start in 23 of the 32 games because of injury issues, plus left a number of those games he has started because he aggravated the injury or suffered a new one.
That has caused some issues, because the Packers have no quality depth at offensive tackle. Jason Spriggs has proven that every time he has come in to play either right tackle or left tackle (when Bakhtaiari was out).
Spriggs is way too inconsistent and has now played three years in the NFL. In my opinion, the Packers should do what they did with Mike Wahle after he showed he could not play offensive tackle. Move Spriggs to guard. It worked out very well for Wahle and what do the Packers have to lose with Spriggs, who is going into the last year of his rookie contract?
Plus there is this. Bulaga is slated to make $8.3 million in 2019. That’s a lot of money for a guy who is often injured.
In my opinion, the Packers need to use the draft and free agency to help out their quality depth issues on the offensive line. Mostly at tackle, but also a guard. If I were general manager Brian Gutekunst, I would draft an offensive tackle early in the draft and also one a bit later in the draft.
I would also draft a guard in the draft.
I know the Packers have other positional issues like at edge rusher, safety and tight end, but the health of the face of the franchise (Rodgers) is at stake here.
I’ll be putting out my draft work soon, but just looking at the draft board as I see it now, the Packers should jump at the chance to select Jonah Williams of Alabama if he is still available at pick No. 12 in Round 1, when Green Bay has it’s first of two selections in that round.
NFL scout Chris Landry has Williams rated as the No. 5 player on his overall draft board.
The bottom line is that then GM Ted Thompson tried to address the lack of quality depth at offensive tackle in the 2016 NFL draft when he drafted Spriggs and Kyle Murphy. That has not panned out.
It’s time to finally fix a problem that has been festering for years now.
At least the Packers know that they have the best left tackle in the NFL in Bakhtiari. Now it’s time to get him some quality help on the other side and also someone who will be on the field each and every game.