GREEN BAY – The Packers made sure they got another big guy.
Trading up nine spots in the second round of the NFL Draft on Friday night, Green Bay grabbed Indiana offensive tackle Jason Spriggs with the No. 48 overall pick.
The Packers surrendered their original second-round pick (No. 57), plus a fourth-rounder (No. 125) and a seventh-rounder (No. 248) to Indianapolis to make the move. The pick gives the Packers two big guys in the first two rounds following the selection of UCLA defensive lineman Kenny Clark in the first round on Thursday night.
“We’re all looking for them, at every level,” said Brian Gutekunst, the Packers’ director of player personnel, regarding linemen.
Spriggs (6-6, 301) gives the Packers depth at offensive tackle that was a sore spot last season. When left tackle David Bakhtiari missed a series of games late in the year due to injury, the pass protection of QB Aaron Rodgers suffered until JC Tretter – normally a backup center – filled in for the wild-card playoff game at Washington.
Gutekunst said he believes Spriggs can play anywhere on the line, but a four-year college starter at left tackle certainly gives the Packers another option backing up Bakhtiari and right tackle Bryan Bulaga.
“He got stronger. He was able to add some weight,” Gutekunst said of Spriggs’ college career. “The athleticism was always there, the ability to cover speed on the edge. The strength is the thing that really progressed.”
Spriggs estimated he weighed between 245 and 250 pounds when he arrived at Indiana as a freshman. He said he’s around 305 now. He also ran a 4.94 in the 40-yard dash and broad-jumped 9-7 at the scouting combine, both tops among all offensive linemen.
Not expecting to play right away for the Hoosiers, Spriggs stepped into the starting lineup as a freshman due to a teammate’s injury and never looked back. He ended up starting 47 games over four years, all at left tackle.
“It got me that much more playing time,” Spriggs said of seeing the field that first year. “It got me that much more experience in the game and I think that helped me a lot overall in my career.”
According to information from Indiana University, Spriggs allowed only two sacks in each of his final two seasons. In 2015, he earned second-team All-Big Ten honors and was a semifinalist for the Outland Trophy.
Gutekunst said he saw Spriggs play live for the first time at the Senior Bowl in January and “it didn’t take long to figure it out” regarding his athletic ability. The Packers followed up with an extensive meeting at the combine and believe he’s an experienced player with plenty of room to grow.
“He’s going to get bigger,” Gutekunst said. “He’s got the frame to add some weight. He’s young.”
Spriggs will turn 22 next month and he’ll have a veteran offensive line in front of him to learn from. There shouldn’t be any pressure to play right away unless an injury occurs, which is how Bakhtiari became a rookie starter as a fourth-round pick three years ago.
The Packers’ need at offensive line heading into this draft was also due to contract situations. Bakhtiari, along with starting guards Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, are all heading into the final year of their current deals. Top sub Tretter is in the same situation as well.
It’s become a habit over the years for the Packers to draft left tackles and then find where they fit best along the offensive front. So Spriggs’ long-term spot is by no means decided.
“I think I can move around,” he said. “It’s kind of up to debate where they want to put me. We’ll see what happens when I get there.”