By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Derek Sherrod could get a chance early on to prove just how mean he can be.
If there’s been one consistent knock against Sherrod, it’s his ability to play with a nasty demeanor. Perhaps his gentle off-field personality or his many academic achievements have contributed to that reputation, but whatever the reason, many NFL Draft experts cited that as a concern.
It was apparently of little concern to Green Bay, which drafted the former Mississippi State left tackle with the final pick of the first round on Thursday. Sherrod could very well find a starting role early in his pro career.
“We think it’s really good value to get a big man that late in the first round that we feel like can come in and help us,” Packers general manager Ted Thompson told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “Where he’s going to play I don’t know. But I know this: You can never have too many big men.”
Sherrod could initially back up 11-year veteran Chad Clifton at left tackle, or he could wind up at either left guard or right tackle, depending on whether Green Bay’s coaches want to move current right tackle Bryan Bulaga, the team’s first-round pick a year ago.
Wherever he winds up, Sherrod is anxious to show critics that he has a mean streak.
“I know that it can be interpreted that I don’t play with that streak during games, but I understand that I as an offensive lineman I have to be mean and nasty to the guy in front of me,” Sherrod said Thursday night. “One of the things that matters to me is when pro teams asked me that question, I turned to football and not off the field because those are two totally different things to me.”
Sherrod regularly posted blocking grades of 90 percent or better for MSU, and he was a big reason the Bulldogs were among the SEC’s best at running the ball the past two seasons. He also excels in pass protection, and the Packers could use more of that – they allowed 38 sacks last year, too many with a franchise quarterback like Aaron Rodgers back there.
Sherrod feels he can provide that protection.
“I’m definitely looking forward to meeting Aaron Rodgers and I’m basically there to protect him,” Sherrod told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “That’s what I do, I go in and work hard and make sure that nobody hits the quarterback.”
There were some anxious moments Thursday night as the first round wound down without Sherrod’s name being called – several other tackles had gone off the board. But then he got a call from the Packers, and the pick was announced shortly after.
Sherrod spoke with Thompson, head coach Mike McCarthy, offensive coordinator Joe Philbin and offensive line coach James Campen.
“It was certainly the case that my parents were much more nervous than I was in the last hour or so,” Sherrod said. “I was just sitting in the back laughing and joking with everybody in the room until my phone rang. I was pretty calm because I was sure the call would come eventually.”
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.