GREEN BAY – Kofi Amichia knows the history in Green Bay.
For the last decade, the Packers have been one of the best in the NFL at churning out starting-caliber offensive linemen from the middle rounds of the draft and sometimes deeper.
Most recently, David Bakhtiari, Corey Linsley, JC Tretter and even former undrafted free agent Lane Taylor have risen up the depth chart and established themselves as starters despite not being taken in the early rounds of the NFL Draft.
Amichia, the Packers’ sixth-round pick, hopes to be the next after a successful run at the University of South Florida, starting 26 consecutive games at left tackle during his final two seasons.
Like many before him, Amichia also understands he’ll need to be open-minded about where he’ll play in the NFL. It could be tackle. It could be guard. It could even be center.
Across-the-line versatility is important for young offensive linemen, but that’s especially true in Green Bay where the Packers have made a habit of moving college left tackles to new spots.
The Packers began testing Amichia’s boundaries during last weekend’s rookie orientation camp, giving the young lineman a taste of what’s to come later this summer.
“It’s definitely a lot quicker than being on the outside,” said Amichia of taking reps on the interior. “I like being outside because you’re on an island, but when you’re inside, it’s not that big of a difference because offensive line is offensive line.
“You just have to be able to hold your man up and protect the quarterback. I’ll feel like I’ll be fine anywhere I’m at on the line.”
Amichia continues the long tradition of the Packers taking offensive linemen in the draft. Ted Thompson has now selected at least one in 12 of his 13 years as general manager.
Amichia doesn’t have a problem playing the waiting game. He did it for the better part of his first three seasons at South Florida, redshirting in 2012, not seeing any action in 2013 and only starting twice in the four games he played in 2014.
After playing left tackle the past two years, Amichia put himself on the map with an impressive pro day in March, running a 4.99-second time in the 40-yard dash with 32 reps on the bench press and a 33½-inch vertical.
He believes that athleticism translates to his play on the offensive line, enabling him to stand toe-to-toe with defensive lineman and get a hat on linebackers downfield.
“You have to be able to recover when guys do spin moves, juke moves,” Amichia said. “Because defensive linemen, people think just because they’re big they can’t move (but) you still have to be able to recover with everything they do and match their intensity with everything.
“I feel that definitely helps a great deal when it comes to the NFL because nobody is slow. So have to be able to move. “
The Packers return four of their five starters on the offensive line and helped replace departing Pro Bowler T.J. Lang with five-time All-Pro right guard Jahri Evans, whose 169 NFL starts over 11 seasons is currently the most among all active NFL offensive linemen.
Meanwhile, Amichia joins a deep room consisting of veteran Don Barclay, 2016 draft picks Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy, five college free agents and first-year players, and practice-squad holdovers Lucas Patrick and Jacob Flores.
Although most of his work has come at tackle, Amichia took snaps at center and guard during his first two seasons at USF. Regardless of where he’s asked to play, he’s eager to show what he can do when the rookies return next week.
“I feel like it wasn’t anything different from being at guard or tackle,” said Amichia of taking snaps at center. “It came natural to me. My first two years of college I did that. It didn’t feel like anything new to me. It was just like riding a bike again.”