Could Bakhtiari’s days in Titletown be numbered?
By GERY WOELFEL
INDIANAPOLIS – Sone news and views from the NFL Combine:
While there has been ample speculation the Packers will trade Hall of Fame in-waiting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, there could be another Packers star on his way out of Titletown.
There are whispers the Packers may also jettison David Bakhtiari, the Packers veteran offensive tackle. Bakhtiari joined the Packers in 2013 as a fourth-round draft choice before developing into one of the league’s best players at his position. Bakhtiari has been accorded All-Pro honors five times, twice as a first-team selection and three times as a second-team selection
But the 31-year-old Bakhtiari tore his anterior cruciate ligament in December of 2020 and subsequent surgeries have limited is playing availability.
Bakhtiari played just one game two seasons ago and last seasons missed six of the 17 regular-season games.
“Bakhtiari is a hell of a player … when he’s healthy,’’ said a source close to the Packers situation. “But who knows if he’ll ever again be a guy you can count on for every game.’’
While the Packers almost certainly have strong reservations about Bakhtiari’s health going forward, the source said Bakhtiari may have reservations about remaining in Green Bay.
“From what I’m hearing, I not so sure he even wants to be there (In Green Bay) anymore,’’ the source said of Bakhtiari. “If that’s the case, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him dealt.’’
Crystal ball gazing
Here’s how one longtime NFL agent sees the quarterback coaching carousel playing out:
- Rodgers to the Jets.
- Derek Carr to the Saints
- Jimmy Garoppolo to the Raiders.
Laying it on the line
The Packers have the 15th overall selection in the 88th annual draft, which will commence on April 27.
The Packers are undoubtedly doing their due diligence on a number of prospects, one being Lukas Van Ness of Iowa.
Van Ness is a versatile defensive lineman, who is projected to be selected in the middle of the first round. And that’s rather remarkable considering Van Ness never started a game for the Hawkeyes last season.
Van Ness, whom the Packers formally interviewed at the Combine on Wednesday, played behind two upperclassmen and was a part of a rotation. Despite being a “reserve’’, Van Ness played more snaps last season as a red-shirt-sophomore than all but one Iowa lineman: Logan Lee.
Van Ness said he fully understood the Iowa coaches’ decision to not to start him.
“They are always fair and consistent with everybody,’’ Van Ness said of the Hawkeyes coaches.
Home, sweet home Chicago
Van Ness wouldn’t have any problem being drafted by the Bears and not just because his girlfriend, Frankie Kmet, is the sister of Bears tight end Cole Kmet.
The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Van Ness grew up in Barrington, a suburb of Chicago, and has followed the Bears since his youth.
“I grew up being a Bears fan,’’ Van Ness said. “It would be super exciting to be with them.’’
Benton goes to bat for Herbig
Former Wisconsin Badgers Keeanu Benton and Nick Herbig had been working out together in Philadelphia prior to the Combine. They have become close friends.
While acknowledging his friendship with Herbig, Benton contends Herbig is going to quiet his skeptics and make his mark in the NFL.
Said Benton: “He’s going to turn a lot of heads once he gets into the league.’’
Herbig registered 47 tackles, of which 11 were solos, in 11 games last season for Wisconsin.