Green Bay Packers: Ted Thompson’s top 30 draft picks of all-time
18. Corey Linsley (Ray’s pick)
A week before the Green Bay Packers 2014 season kicked off at Seattle, very few considered the name Corey Linsley to be on the tips of their tongues.
The fifth round draft pick by Ted Thompson out of Ohio State was considered a solid addition to the team – a team whose offensive line was continuing to develop.
But nobody saw what was coming.
Third-year center J.C. Tretter had played with the first unit all spring and through training camp. He was the starting center. Linsley was a backup waiting in the wings.
Well those wings opened abruptly when Tretter went down with a knee injury one week before the start of the regular season. He would be out for half the season, which propelled Linsley to the forefront.
Considering that he would be the fourth center in two seasons from which Aaron Rodgers would receive snaps, Rodgers didn’t blink in throwing his towel into the rookie’s corner. He didn’t have any choice.
Linsley wouldn’t let him down, nor would he let the team down.
Not only did the rookie start that first game against the Seahawks, but he went on to start every regular season and playoff game for the Packers that season.
In fact, according to a piece posted by Rob Demovsky over at ESPN, Linsley not only played in every game in 2014, but he was the only player to start every play with his hand on the ball for the Packers’ offense.
Not Josh Sitton, not David Bakhtiari, not Jordy Nelson nor T.J. Lang.
It was the rookie Linsley who not only played every snap for the Packers, but he played at a Pro Bowl level that kept him in the lineup and gave the Packers hope that they had found the guy to build a line around for years to come.
He was rock solid for the Packers – an accomplishment that didn’t go completely unnoticed. Not only was he named to the Pro Football Focus All-NFC North Team, but he was also named to the website’s All-Rookie team.
Here is what they said about Linsley in being selected to the All-NFC North Team:
"The fourth member of the Packer offensive line to make the team is Corey Linsley. The fifth-round rookie was meant to struggle this season stepping in for an injured J.C. Tretter, however, Linsley performed way above his draft status and ended the year as the fifth graded center and the anchor on our All-Rookie team."
Here is what they said about his selection to the All-Rookie Team:
"He may not have walked into training camp expecting to start but he’ll walk out of this season as not only the teams starting center for the future, but one of the better young linemen in the league."
And though Linsley suffered an injury that forced him to miss a handful of games in 2015, his presence was just as important this past season as it was his rookie year
It was also interesting that what went around came around last season for J.C. Tretter. While losing his job to Linsley in 2014, it was Tretter who filled in admirably at center. Tretter also proved his worth when he was slid to left tackle in the playoffs last season when David Bakhtiari was out of the lineup.
The future for Linsley is bright and appears to be long.
Next: No. 18 (Freddie's pick)