Rookie David Bakhtiari could be among favorites at right tackle for Packers
By Rob Demovsky, Green Bay Press-Gazette
~GREEN BAY – To hear Eric Bakhtiari tell it, his little brother did all the things that little brothers do.
Seven years younger, David (6’4″ 295lbs) was by his older brother’s side whenever possible, emulating him at every turn.
Some little brothers grow out of it and branch out on their own.
Right up until last Thursday, when he left to report to the Green Bay Packers’ rookie orientation camp, there was David, a fourth-round pick last month, grabbing every last piece of advice he could from big brother, a linebacker who has played for the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers in addition to practice squad stints with five other NFL teams.
So perhaps better than anyone, Eric, 28 and a free agent hoping for another shot to go camp with a team this summer, knows how David, 21, projects to the NFL and whether he can grab the Packers’ starting right tackle job — a position that was blown wide open after coach Mike McCarthy moved Bryan Bulaga to left tackle earlier this month.
Though David hasn’t played right tackle since his redshirt freshman year at Colorado in 2010, he might head into training camp this summer as one of the favorites to win that job. After playing right tackle in his first collegiate season, he moved to left tackle following the departure of Nate Solder, a first-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2011.
To Eric, that experience tells him that such a role won’t be too big for his brother as a rookie.
“The fact that he started opposite of Nate Solder his redshirt freshman year at Colorado, that was kind of a surprise to us all because he was maybe 280 pounds, and he held his own and did great that year,” Eric said. “And I think that he has the confidence. He’s one of those players where he knows he’s got ability and he knows what he has to do to be successful. He wants to be the guy they count on. He wants to be the guy who shuts down the pass rusher, the guy who gets after guys in the trenches and things like that. He relishes that.”
And he’s already had some hands-on NFL training. For the last six weeks, Bakhtiari has been working out at Proactive Sports Performance in Westlake Village, Calif., with his brother. Among other NFL players who train at the facility is Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews, a friend of Eric’s.
“On his first day here, when he was training with us, he started asking Clay a bunch of questions,” Eric said. “They paired him against Clay, and he started asking Clay a bunch of a questions. Clay started taking him through some things, like ‘when you set like this, I’m going to do this,’ and he was just enthralled. He was just being a student, and he loves being a student.”
It’s going to take a crash course for Bakhtiari to get up to speed in time to make a serious run at the job, but the Packers think he can do it. He opened the rookie camp at left tackle while fellow fourth-round pick J.C. Tretter of Cornell started at right tackle, but the two were expected to flip-flop as the camp went on.
“I’m most comfortable at left tackle; that’s where I played the past two seasons,” David Bakhtiari said. “But wherever I can get the most time and reps at, I can feel comfortable at that position. Wherever they want to put me is where I’m going to play.”
The Packers finished last season with undrafted free agent rookie Don Barclay at right tackle after Bulaga sustained a season-ending hip injury, but Barclay probably isn’t the long-term answer. Marshall Newhouse, who struggled through the last two seasons at left tackle, will get a turn at right tackle. So will Derek Sherrod, the 2011 first-round pick, if he can recover from the broken leg that kept him out all of last season.
The 6-foot-4 Bakhtiari is the lightest of them. He played last season at 298 pounds and was 299 at the combine in February, but he weighed in at 305 when he reported to the Packers this weekend. His arm length of 34 inches, one of the key attributes for tackles, compares favorably to Eric Fisher (34 1/2) and Luke Joeckel (34 1/4), the tackles taken one-two in the first round last month.
“If you look at him physically, while he doesn’t necessarily look prototypical, he’s super strong,” Eric said. “We did a lot of core work this offseason to get his core up to speed with guys who have been in the league for several years, Clay and myself. And he’s got the athleticism for it.”
With Eric back in Southern California waiting for a team to give him another shot, David is on his own. But in the back of his mind, he’s holding out hope that he still gets to hang around his big brother again. This weekend, he allowed his mind to wander to the notion that the Packers might sign Eric before training camp begins.
“That would be ideal,” Eric said. “That’s one thing he made me promise him when they first mentioned him as an NFL prospect a couple of years ago. He said that I …. full story here