The Green Bay Packers have one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL. We all know they have the best QB in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers. We also know they have some of the best weapons with Eddie Lacy in the backfield and Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb at receiver. What we don’t talk about enough is how good their offensive line is. The “big uglies” never get any love. They have two maulers at guard in TJ Lang and Josh Sitton and a promising future at the tackle positions with David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga, but the guy who holds it all together is one of our breakout candidates for the 2015 season.
Corey Linsley was a 5th round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2014 and by all accounts, an absolute steal. Coming out of Ohio State, scouts said he was an undersized, but strong mauler that was limited athletically but had a makeup to overachieve.
Going into the 2014 season, JC Tretter was the expected starter at center, but suffered an injury that sidelined him for the first few weeks of the season. As the center you are responsible for communicating with the quarterback every play and keeping the line in sync so it was very important for Green Bay to find a viable replacement.
The Packers turned to the rookie Linsley who did not disappoint after a strong showing in the preseason. Going into the season opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks, everybody expected the rookie to be overwhelmed. Leading up to the game Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin said he would pray for the rookie replacement at center and that he would be in for a long night. Watching the game, you couldn’t tell who he was, which is a great thing if you’re a lineman. Not only did the rookie hold his own, he flat out dictated the line of scrimmage at some points during the game against Brandon Mebane, Michael Bennett and one of the leagues better defensive lines. Although the Seahawks ultimately prevailed, that game was definitely a boost for Linsley’s confidence.
The following weeks, he struggled against two dominant defensive lines in New York and Detroit. Going against the likes of Mohammed Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley any offensive lineman is expected to struggle let alone a rookie. He rebounded after the two rough performances and as the season progressed, Linsley began to dominate his matchups at the line of scrimmage regularly and began to show signs that he was one of the best young centers in the league. Even after JC Tretter returned from injury, Linsley remained the starter at center. He’s an excellent run blocker with a mean streak and he tied for 3rd in terms of pass blocking efficiency when it comes to centers, according to Pro Football Focus. Linsley has the potential to be the best center in the NFL in the coming years but must continue to work on his technique and feel for the defenses he’ll be facing.