Packers re-sign Kuhn, may shuffle OL depth

Peppers a LB/DE without a # according to GB depth chart
This has been one of the best weeks in perhaps the most enjoyable off-season in recent Green Bay Packers’ history.
The Milwaukee Brewers swept the Red Sox in Boston to open the season 4-2, the Wisconsin Badgers swept into the Final Four before bowing out to Kentucky 74-73 in a classic semifinal game, and the Packers continued to make wise, prudent personnel decisions. That list now includes re-signing fullback John Kuhn to a $1 million, one-year deal last week. Talk about getting bang for your buck.
Kuhn is a Packers fan favorite because he is a winner who produces, plays hard and has a surname that’s fun to cheer and shout at the top of one’s lungs. “KUUUUUHN” also is a core special teams’ player on a unit that needs his heart, want-to and experience if it is going to improve under coordinator Shawn Slocum and assistant Ron Zook. Further, Kuhn shares his wit, knowledge and insight with his fans. The fullback’s key blocks at the most crucial times have won games.
For instance, his other-side-of-the-backfield block of ex-Bears defensive end Julius Peppers allowed Aaron Rodgers to complete a 60-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in December to win the NFC North. Running backs coach Alex Van Pelt told ESPN, “I have to say he’s probably the best pass protector/third-down back in the league as far as protection. I don’t know if there’s anybody that’s (sounder) and doesn’t lose blocks. He wasn’t credited for one sack (against) this season. When he was in there in protection, he was outstanding.”
With Kuhn, 32, a most reliable pass blocker in the fold, the Packers’ offense exists without a great many needs. A top-end tight end in the upcoming May 8 NFL draft would be a nice addition, but even a mid-round pick would be fine in a unit with Andrew Quarless and Co. In fact, the Packers’ needs aren’t so glaring that you want to close your eyes. Realistically, GM Ted Thompson needs to add a productive, starting-caliber safety and inside linebacker to the current depth chart. The rest is trying to acquire good, ascending young players.
Here is one exception: Let’s suppose the Packers trade down in the first round because Thompson believes he can get the player he wants early in the second round, plus another second-round pick to go with it?
Surely, he would have to consider Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garappolo if he’s still there in the late-first early-second round. Garappolo IS going to be the best quarterback from this draft. If you haven’t seen film, I urge you to check out his work. He possesses ideal size (6-2 ½, 226), a strong pocket presence and a deadly quick release. That would be the only exception to otherwise taking the best safety or inside linebacker with the 21st pick. Clearly, if selecting a quarterback that high at least gives pause, the Packers’ roster is in pretty decent shape.
There has been talk of reshuffling the offensive line. Fortunately, it doesn’t involve the starting lineup. David Bakhtiari will open at left tackle, with Josh Sitton (left guard), J.C. Tretter (center), T.J. Lang (right guard) and Bryan Bulaga (right tackle) across the front. The backup plan is interesting.
It appears Derek Sherrod will be given a chance to secure the backup tackle job. Ideally, Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy will feature an eight-man game-day offensive lineup of the starters plus a swing tackle (possibly Sherrod), a tackle-guard (Don Barclay) who could play center in a pinch and a center-guard (Lane Taylor). That’s pretty solid. Factor in Eddie Lacy’s ability to run the football and create play-action opportunities, and Rodgers could be in for one of the finest seasons of his career.
On another note, Julius Peppers still hasn’t selected a jersey number. The Packers’ depth chart did, however, add LB to his position this week. Peppers’ official position is now is listed as LB/DE on the roster. That could pave the way for him to be reunited with his college jersey number at North Carolina. If indeed Peppers wants to wear No. 49, he can only do so if A) he is listed as a linebacker, and B) if all the numbers in the 90s and 50s are already taken. Only a few 90s remain, and one in the 50s (No. 56). Obviously, the sooner Peppers is given a number, the quicker the Packers can begin to sell them.

Chris Havel is a national best-selling author and his latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio ( Havel also hosts Event USA’ MVP Parties the evening before home games.