Sherrod could be Clifton heir apparent in Green Bay

Posted April 29, 2011 @ 12:21 a.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

Although his tremendous play down the stretch last season might indicate otherwise, Packers Pro Bowl OLT Chad Clifton can't go on forever.

The Packers were no doubt thinking about that when they pointed their trigger at Mississippi State Derek Sherrod with the final pick of the first round Thursday evening.

Clifton turns 35 in June. While he was able to start every game at left tackle last season with the help of a relaxed practice regimen, he had major issues with his knees the previous season, missing four games and getting forced out of four others counting the playoffs.

Gearing up for life without Clifton is a prudent move on GM Ted Thompson's part.

Sherrod, ranked fifth among tackles by PFW, certainly has the size (6-5, 321) to play left tackle, but his athleticism, which Clifton continues to show off in abundance in his twilight years, is considered so-so.

The good news is that Sherrod has a tremendous work ethic, admirable toughness (he played through a foot injury at Mississippi State) and has a good head on his shoulders.

Most importantly, he is an extremely durable four-year starter who never missed a game at Mississippi State.

It's conceivable Sherrod could end up at right tackle, with 2010 first-round pick Bryan Bulaga moving to the left side to eventually replace Clifton.

It's also conceivable the versatile Sherrod could figure in the mix at left guard, with 2010 starter Darryn Colledge being a free agent who is thinking seriously about leaving Green Bay for greener pastures.

It would appear the defending Super Bowl champions are in no great rush to work Sherrod into the lineup. In the back of their minds, though, they know Clifton could go down for the count in a heartbeat.

Sherrod shapes up as a very valuable insurance policy.