David Bakhtiari blocks Aldon Smith during the Packers playoff loss at home against the 49ers. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Green Bay Packers: Year 2 for David Bakhtiari

Many say that the biggest jump in performance for NFL players comes between their rookie and second year – that’s good news for Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari.

Coming out of nowhere as a fourth round draft pick for the Packers in 2013, Bakhtiari was thrust into the starting role on Aaron Rodgers‘ blind side and competed well, despite some glaring areas that are in need of improvement.

In a comparison to other rookie tackles across the league, the good folks over at Pro Football Focus (subscription required) provide us with a look at how Bakhtiari compared in a recent study.

David Bakhtiari enters his second year as the Green Bay Packers' left tackle. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

David Bakhtiari enters his second year as the Green Bay Packers’ left tackle.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Author of the comparison study,  says that Bakhtiari held up pretty well against other high profile rookies:  Eric FisherLuke JoeckelLane JohnsonD.J. FlukerJustin PughJordan Mills and LaAdrian Waddle.

Here is how Palazzolo describes Bakhtiari’s bottom line:

Unlike the previous offensive tackles profiled, Bakhtiari came to the league with little fanfare, yet he slid into a starting role at left tackle after OT Bryan Bulaga went down in the preseason due to injury. While Bakhtiari’s overall grade came in middle-of-the-pack among the fellow rookie offensive tackles, digging a little deeper into the numbers shows a capable pass protector with some upside if he can improve in the right areas.

Surprisingly, Bakhtiari was one of the top pass protectors out of this rookie group. Though he struggled against the bull rush, he was solid against some of the best pass rushers in the game – a promising fact.

Here are the numbers:

Pass Blocking

Grade: +2.8
Pass Block Snaps: 674
Total Pressures: 39
Sacks: 8
Hits: 4
Hurries: 27
Pass Blocking Efficiency: 95.2

However, when you look at Bakhtiari’s numbers in the run game, reality sinks in. He was dead last in comparing his performances in the run game against the other rookie tackles from the 2013 season.

Here are his numbers and Palazzolo’s comments about Bakhtiari’s run blocking statistics:

Run Blocking

Grade: -15.0
Run Block Snaps: 464

As impressive as Bakhtiari was in pass protection, he was equally disappointing in the running game as his -15.0 easily ranked last among his fellow rookies. He was often controlled at the point of attack and he simply gave up too much backfield penetration.

Bakhtiari, in an interview not long after the season ended, had this to say about himself:

“For me, I thought it was a very good rookie season — as a rookie. If I look at myself like a rookie, hell of a season. As a player, I thought had a good, decent year. But I’m always harsh on myself. I don’t care if I was a rookie or not. Now, I’m not a rookie anymore. No one’s going to keep that tag on me.

“I just need to keep a higher level of expectation that I have to protect 12 back there and keep him up and make sure I’m playing the game at an extremely high level. I know if I keep people off him, he’s going to make plays and score points for us.”

Bakhtiari has also received the needed vote of confidence from head coach Mike McCarthy who said a couple of months ago that his plan was to keep the second-year tackle on the left side and move veteran Bryan Bulaga back to the right side where he played his first three seasons in the league.

One thing is for sure – if Bakhtiari can clean up his play against the bull rush and improve his run blocking skills, he could be in this league for years to come.

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  • Mike Brand

    i think year 2 he is even better

  • billy

    good article.

  • Michael Castelaz

    I know they liked his tenacity last year, which leaves me surprised he’s that bad in the run block. Sounds like he got stronger and smarter… hopefully protecting 27 is as big of a priority as 12.

    • David Hofstedt

      Me too, I thought he was a little better. One thing for sure you know he worked his tail off this winter getting stronger. A NFL offseason of eating and training right can do wonders. My biggest concern is Tretter. I know he’s worked his butt off this off season MM has even commented on that. If Bulaga stays healthy this could be one of the best O-Line MM has had.

  • Kevin

    He was okay, pretty bad to start the year but got better as the year went on. His pass pro was solid, not good or great but solid. He REALLY struggled against lengthier pass rushers such as Aldon Smith and Michael Johnson.

    According to PFF, He graded -7.1 against Johnson with a -5.3 in pass pro and -2.4 in run blocking. He only gave up 1 sack and 6 pressures all together but he missed a crucial cut block on Johnson that ultimately probably cost GB the game on the final drive.

    In the 2 games against SF and Aldon Smith, he gave up 4 sacks(I believe all were to Aldon Smith) and 10 pressures.

    He also gave up 3 sacks against the Lions in 1 game with two coming against the lengthier Ansah.

    He does have potential as a pass protector and proved that his rookie season even if the raw sack numbers could indicate otherwise. He came to camp much heavier and stronger from what I heard which is very encouraging. That being said my biggest concern is absolutely is run blocking. I don’t see him ever being too good as a run blocker because he is a smaller player that isn’t overly strong or quick.

    If I’m being honest, I’d be very happy if Sherrod was able to beat out Bakhtiari in TC this year. He was a first rd pick for a reason and even though his first 3 seasons were very disappointing it was all because of 1 major injury. Hopefully this injury hasn’t derailed his career past repair. This will be his first TC exclusively at LT or OT in general. Sherrod was a 1st rd pick for a reason and IMO has a far higher ceiling than Bakhtiari and also has much better size. At the combine Sherrod was over an inch taller at 6’5.5” compared to 6’4” and was 321 lbs to 299. Sherrod also had the longest arms in his draft class at 35.5” which was 2” longer than Bakh. Also had 11” hands which is insane and also nearly 2” bigger than Bakh. Also considering the difference in height and weight, Sherrod put up impressive numbers all around at the combine beating Bakh in both 20 yard shuttle and 3 cone. I remember watching Sherrod’s on field performance and I was VERY impressed with him. He looked the part both in size and performance. He would be a first rd OT in basically any draft.

    I know I just typed a lot of BS but I do think most people have written Sherrod off as a bust even though he never got a fair shot in the NFL. His first TC he was thrust into a competition at OG when in reality it was a bad idea to start with. He is strictly an OT athletically and technically. It was proven fairly quick. I’m just not a fan of moving young OL around like that to begin with. They need to learn the playbook and play where there comfortable(Interior stay at OG/C and Tackles stay outside please MM. At least till their 2nd season and they’ve learned the playbook and the NFL game). After the TC of him being out of position and never fully learning the tackle position for the Packers, he finally started to find his groove in the NFL as a tackle then a horrific injury occurred. I feel really bad for the guy but he is getting another shot to prove himself. If he is going to step up for the Packers, it has to be this year.

    The battle for LT is a battle that I haven’t heard one thing about so far but it could end up being a great battle. I think it also played a part in leaving Bakh at LT and moving Bulaga back to RT where he is more of a natural fit than at LT. Sherrod IMO is strictly a LT in the NFL because he is more of a finesse player.

    I won’t be upset if Bakhtiari wins the LT position, he will have definitely earned it. I do think he can and probably will be a good NFL tackle but I don’t ever see him being great. If Sherrod wins I’d be ecstatic because I know Bakhtiari will perform well in TC and that would indicate Sherrod would have had a helluva camp. I think any Packers fan should hope Sherrod wins honestly. Like I previously said, Sherrod was a 1st rd pick for a reason. It’s basically like GB got two first rd picks this year.

    • Kevin

      lolol.. I typed this over a couple hours because I kept getting side tract. I didn’t proof read and I had no clue it was that long. Sorry for this. I have to believe there won’t be 1 person that reads it so I will give a TL;DR version.

      I hope Sherrod wins the TC battle that no one is talking about(literally haven’t heard it mentioned once). He has had an unfortunate career but will be back to 100% this TC and will have his first TC exclusively at LT(first TC was split between OT and G then was injured later that year when he was finally finding his groove in the NFL). Sherrod was a 1st rd pick for a reason and IMO has a much higher ceiling than Bakhtiari. He is taller, bigger, more athletic, has better footwork etc. His combine and the on field testing at the combine proves all these things. Sherrod is also VERY lengthy for a 6’5.5” OT. Had the longest arms and biggest hands in his draft class. Also had some of the best times in the 20 yard and 3 cone in the 2011 OT class. Last thing I want to say again is it’d be great to see Sherrod win the battle because of his higher ceiling but also because he will really have to earn it. Bakhtiari already has the advantage because he was the starter last year but he is also a consistent player that is going to improve and have a good TC.

      • Mike Brand

        sherrod is done i will bet anybody this is his last year in green bay. you want to go by pff bull crap it comes down to who has the experince dbak has it sherrod doesnt sherrod is still basically a rookie . he has very little playing time dbak played a whole season at that post and knows what to expect in year 2 do you really honestly want a stat to protect your qb or do you want a guy that has done it . stats are for idiots who think they know football playing the position is what makes the player . newhouse showed he was not a nfl player sherrod is gonna be nothing more than a next guy up role

        • Kevin

          Bakhtiari has to improve drastically for me to even consider him a quality protector on Rodgers blind side.

          You sound so adamant about this yet you have no proof that Sherrod can’t be a quality player in the NFL. He is still a young player with a ton of potential. What makes you believe its impossible for him to reach that potential. He was a 1st rd pick for a reason while Bakh was a 4th rd pick.

          Bakhtiari was solid at best at LT last season in pass pro and really struggled against length. Plus he was atrocious against the run.

          Neither of us know if Sherrod will ever be good or if he will be bad yet you throw insults out and claim to know everything. Doesn’t seem like the right approach to me. Sherrod will be rusty to start but can very well beat out Bakhtiari at LT. There is nothing on tape to prove otherwise. He is still a very talented player with a ton of potential. He has never had a chance in the NFL to prove he can’t do it. That’s like claiming a 1st rd pick from this year will be horrible. No proof to back up your claims. It’s basically like saying TT is an idiot and you know more than him.

          Of course Bakhtiari was better than Newhouse. Newhouse was easily one of the worst starters in the NFL at any position before he lost out to Bakhtiari. So basically, that isn’t saying much at all.

          • Mike Brand

            will bet you he will not beat dbak the only reason sherrod is still in green and gold is that it would cost us either if he was or was not there . his role will be next guy up even mccarthy said dbak was the starting left tackle . so unless he comes out in preseason and really wows the coaches this will be his last year in green bay . he will want to start and want sitton money when he has not proven he deserves it. also qiut with where they were drafted crap i am so sick and tred of people using that for good whne they choose and down aj hawk where he was drafted . where your drafted has nothing to do with where you end up . ask that 6th round pick tom brady

          • Kevin

            Last year harris was the starting rb until his injury. It doesnt mean the players behind him arent good or cant outperform him. There is a very good chance lacy beats him out in training camp. Just because a player is named the starter before tc even starts doesnt mean much at all when there are players behind them ready to compete. Sherrod is back and at 100%. One slip up by bakh or a really good tc from sherrod andhe could very well end up starting week 1. No matter what you say, draft position does play a role in the nfl. Sherrod has the size, athleticism, and skillset and that is why he was a 1st rd pick. He could easily put all those to good use and prove why he was a 1st rd pick. Itd be stupid to count him out. This is truly his first chance to compete for a ot spot so anything can happen. Id much rather see sherrod beat out bakh because of his much better size and longterm potential. Rodgers just brought up sherrod recently when talking about the size on gbs roster being better. Id bet rodgerswill be hoping for a big tc from sherrod aandhis far more physically imposing size. Bakh will be possibly the smallest starting LT in the nfl if he wins the job while Sherrod is closer to one of the bigger and is still more athletic than bakh.

          • Mike Brand

            dude watch the games and stop reading what pff says . dbak has a full year at the spot sherrod is still basically a rookie . all those stupid stats you use are from when he was in college do you know what college means in the nfl not a dang thing. you go with the guy that knows the spot and has experience there. sherrod is going to be a back up to either bulaga or dbak that i will bet you on .

          • Kevin

            What is on the tape that pff has bakh graded out to be. Their grades reflect nearly exactly what I saw last year on film. Bakh was really bad in run blocking, struggled horribly as a pass blocker against length, and was really average as a pass blocker overall. As far as film and what pff cant show in a grade or stat, it doesnt show his smaller stature, below average strength, solid athleticism, and very average long term potential. Sherrod as youve pointed out numerous times doesnt have much experience so there isnt any nfl tape to go off of. All I have is college film and that is very impressive. I was far more impressed with sherrod in college than I was bakh. Then you consider the difference in size strength and athleticism and id be surprised if many packers fans and especially rodgers wouldnt hope for sherrod to have a big tc and win the starting lt position and earn that big payday he apparently thinks hes worth thanks to ur insider position. Sorry for the bad english. Im doing this from my phone right now.

          • Mike Brand

            again college is not the nfl i understand your a nfl fantasy team guy and not the fan that actually watches because your the only one that did not see that from week 5 til the end dbak picked it up to where even aaron praised him . keep reading pff while the rest of us watch the games

          • Kevin

            I like how instead of backing up your opinion you rely on insults. Pretty childish, don’t you think?

            Believe me, I watch the games and saw David Bakhtiari improve throughout the season but still drastically struggle against pass rushers with length and as a run blocker no matter who he was playing against.

            I’ve given my opinion multiple times based on what I saw on tape then backed that up with statistics. Nearly every sports writer does the same thing. Backing up opinions with stats doesn’t mean they don’t watch the game. It means they feel their opinion is being backed up by statistics. It really isn’t that hard to grasp.

            I understand you like Bakhtiari, you have a reason to. I just don’t see long term potential from Bakh as far as him having a chance to be a pro bowler, top 10 LT, etc. I actually really liked Bakhtiari as a Center prospect going into the draft and when he was drafted by GB was very excited because I thought they would move him inside. I was pleasantly surprised with what Bakhtiari did at LT considering the positiuon he was thrown into before he was ready. Bakh packed on weight and strength this offseason and hopefully that really helps because he drastically needs more strength to compete with these bigger, taller DE’s. Last year basically every week Bakhtiari was the weakest player in the 1v1 matchup he was faced with and that needs to change.

            To completely discredit Sherrod and say he will never be anything more than a backup or that he will ask for top dollar salary is a completely uneducated response to my post. There is no proof to your claims while there is plenty of proof to what I’ve said. I’m assuming this is why you resulted in insults. Maybe Sherrod won’t ever be a starting LT, you could be right but to claim it as fact and act like I don’t watch football is honestly ridiculously stupid. He had a very unfortunate injury that he is now recovered from and ready to compete for the LT spot that he was drafted for, for the first time in his NFL career(first TC was spent competing with Lang for the guard spot which was a horrible idea IMO). Sherrod has better length, weight or size in general, strength, and athleticism than Bakhtiari. Does that mean its a guarantee that he beats out Bakh? No and its far from that but it does give him a chance even though he is going into this TC rusty after not playing football in years.

            You have a right to your opinion even if some of your claims are ridiculous. The most ridiculous claim is about Sherrod and the value you say he believes he is worth. There is absolutely nothing to back up your claim and ridiculous to even think. If he doesn’t beat out Bakh and is a backup, there is no way he goes into the offseason thinking he will get anything more than maybe 2 mil. If he overvalues himself GB will let him go in FA and test the market. When he realizes the market is weak, GB will offer him what they believe he is worth and if he is smart he takes it and comes back to compete with Bakh again where he knows the system and can compete when he isn’t rusty and had a full season practicing in GB’s system for the first time in his career.

            All this being said, I’m over this conversation. All it has resulted in his childish insults from you and very uneducated responses that you try to claim as fact. I could easily just insult you for these outlandish responses but I’m old enough and mature enough to know its pointless and truly a waste of my time. I don’t know you, the same as you don’t know me. You assume I don’t watch football and instead just look at the stats when in reality I record every game and watch multiple times each week and even more during the offseason when the season is over and there isn’t any football to enjoy. That way I can further breakdown each player and see what I maybe missed the week of the game.

          • Mike Brand

            tell you what if sherrod takes dbak job away i will call you god but as i said your the only one saying it even the writers on this site know sherrod will not take dbaks job. and what tape you do know sherrod has on 7 games under his belt in 4 years so really what tape outside college you have nothing to back yours up but he was a first round pick . as far as uneducated really is that the best you have after you have proven nothing i just posted stats where is yours mine is from the packers page where the truth lies now be gone troll you just got owned and by the way pff is total bogus its a stat mess mostly for fantasy football there is some more truth . so lets recap 7 total games in 4 years vs a full season sherrod is basically a rookie dbak is experienced

          • Kevin

            Where in the world do you get the impression that Sherrod who is just now getting healthy and never started a game will want 6+ mil a year. That is just ridiculous and way out of left field. There is absolutely zero evidence to back up ur claims and plays no role in this discussion anyway because no team would offer him a 3rd of that at this point which puts gb right back into the discussion of getting him for cheap. Now if he earns the LT spot and performs well that changes everything but talking about sherrod and salary at this point is completely obsolete.

          • Mike Brand

            where do i get it its because sherrod is not gonna take a rookie contract again he and his agent will shop around and he will not take small pay when at best he has one more contract after this one left he will want a big pay day its the nature of the beast . on the 2nd contract they all want the moon some get it some dont and some leave because they think the grass is greener on the other side. betting his agent is already crunching numbers and will demand top pay to start. but he will never resign with us for what he is getting now which in my opinion is fair because he has proved nothing to me yet but riding the irl for 2 years

          • Kevin

            He can enter fa hoping to get more money but how can you say he is leaving for sure when both of us know he wont get more than 2 mil a year and thats me being generous. Once he realizes he isnt getting top money like you apparently believe he wants with zero proof, he can come back just as easily as he can go to another team. Itd be very smart for him to return to gb where he knows the system. All im saying is you have no proof of anything youre claiming just like I dont have proof sherrod will win the job and is the exact reason im not claiming it as fact and the reason you shouldnt either. Lets just end it here but if sherrod wins the job which every packers fan should hope for considering how much more potential sherrod has over bakh. I hope you come back to admit your fault.

          • Mike Brand

            what fault your the only idiot that thinks sherrod will beat out dbak . not even sherrod at this point knows he wont start quit reading pff and start watching the games . if aaron praised him and the coach praised him thats enough proof for everyone to see he will be the starter pff has nothing but numbers they do not watch the games

        • Kevin

          I find there to be quite a bit of substance behind some advanced stats. Stuff like sacks allowed or pancakes as an OL doesn’t tell that much but when it gets broken down to the average time a OL is allowing a sack it paints a much better picture.

          Even if you don’t want to use stats which is very understandable(Even if they do help in some situations) you can just turn on the tape and see the Bakhtiari did struggle in certain situations. Bakh was a big reason as to why GB lost against Cincy, or why SF was able to pressure so effectively against GB in both games. He was simply just bad against length.

          For a player his size he doesn’t have the best or quickest feet/footwork while in the run game he isn’t nearly strong enough at the point to consistently win or even win 50% of the time.

          I heard he gained weight this offseason so maybe he comes into the season stronger and faster. I understand he was a project last year and probably shouldn’t have been starting so it could very well happen that he is drastically better in 2014. IMO it would only be a good sign of Sherrod pushes Bakh for the starting spot or even earns the starting spot. We know what we have in Bakh while Sherrod is an unknown.

          I just don’t know how you can say stats are for idiots when in reality GM’s have claimed to use PFF along with MANY players. I don’t think you can claim to know more than these players(who watch a ton of tape and still respect PFF) or GM’s who do nothing but basically watch tape for a living. Apparently they feel PFF backs up their opinions a majority of the time or htey wouldn’t use it.

          I also don’t know how you can claim to be 100% positive that Sherrod will never amount to anything in the NFL. His rookie season he didn’t even play his natural position in TC and later in the year suffered a nasty injury that basically sidelined him for the next 2 seasons. He is now back and 100% healthy and will be competing with Bakh at his natural position for the first time in the NFL. He was a 1st rd pick for a reason and is bigger, stronger, and more athletic than Bakh. He very well could beat out Sherrod and I guarantee I never hear from you again after that.

          I’m not saying I can guarantee that Sherrod will win the LT spot. That would be idiotic, similar to saying you can guarantee he will never be a good player. I trust TT’s decision when he drafted him in 2011. Now he has him back and we will finally see if it was a good decision or not. No1 knows, including you.

          • Mike Brand

            the two games you mentioned were in the first 4 games he never struggled after that . he had many holding calls but nobody pushed him around after he got his footing. as far as your love for sherrod and the so called stat of pff what has he done in the nfl except get injured . his so call stats you are going by is from 3 years ago at ms st but as of right now i will bet anybody sherrod will not be a starting guy dbak has experince there now a full year in the nfl thats a whole season more than sherrod

    • Mike Brand

      and yet still a huge upgrade on the left side over newhouse

  • http://powip.com vermontaigne

    With Peppers and Hubbard, depending on how long he sticks, in training camp, it would seem DBakh might be able to get some good preseason practice against those long bodies he struggles with.