The Green Bay Packers now have five of their eight 2009 draft picks under contract, with the signing of offensive lineman T.J. Lang, who signed yesterday.
Lang joins linebacker Brad Jones, safety Brandon Underwood, defensive end Jarius Wynn – all of whom signed in mid-June – and tackle Jamon Meredith, who signed on June 25.
As we did previously with Jones, Underwood and Wynn, let’s take a look at the two newest Packers, now that they are officially on board.
The Packers chose Lang, an Eastern Michigan product, in the fourth round. He started 36 games in college, including 26 at left tackle, the most pivotal position on the offensive line.
Packers coaches have had a lot of positive things to say about Lang, and he is expected to battle Allen Barbre for the job at right tackle. However, whether Lang ultimately ends up at right tackle or right guard is up in the air. Many scouts have said Lang doesn’t have the athleticism to play tackle at the NFL level, as he struggles with quicker defensive lineman, but Packers coach Mike McCarthy has noted that Lang has looked good, at times, at both tackle and guard.
Lang will be an asset in the Packers zone blocking scheme, and is the type of fiesty and fiery competitor the Packers like on the offensive line, but will have to gain strength if he wants to play tackle in the NFL. However, Lang, who was initially a defensive lineman in college, showed improvement in each of his collegiate campaigns, so he certainly has the work ethic to get the job done.
Lang will be a starter for the Green Bay Packers. The only question is when.
Meredith, who played for Steve Spurrier at South Carolina, is an extremely intriguing prospect. He played both tackle spots and guard at South Carolina, but has the size and build of a left tackle. Meredith is athletic, fundamentally sound, and able to adjust on the fly. He has been called one of the best pass protectors in the 2009 draft and some experts projected him as a second or third round pick.
So why did this guy last until the fifth round?
Meredith’s passion and toughness have often come into question. Some of his former coaches have reportedly called him a pain in the ass, as well as a whiner and complainer. Meredith was suspended for the first two games of the 2008 season, and played with an ankle injury thereafter, which led to an uneven season for Meredith.
For his part, Meredith has said the right things since being drafted by the Packers.
So, are the Packers getting an underachiever or one of the best tackles in the draft? Only time will tell.