By GERY WOELFEL
INDIANAPOLIS – Bob Skoronski didn’t garner the notoriety like some of the other outstanding offensive linemen on the legendary Vince Lombardi-coached Green Bay Packers teams of the 70s.
Skoronski wasn’t inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame like fellow O-linemen Forrest Gregg, Jim Ringo and Jerry Kramer, but he nevertheless was a key component in the Packers’ extraordinary success.
Skoronki was the starting left tackle and an offensive captain for those fabled Packers teams. He started on five Packers championship teams, including Super Bowls I and II.
In 1966, Skoronski was duly selected to the Pro Bowl. He was later inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame.
It’s safe to say almost every player in this year’s NFL draft knows little, if anything, about Skoronski … with one exception. That’s Peter Skoronski, the former Northwestern University standout offensive tackle who is Bob’s Skoronski’s grandson.
The former learned much about the latter’s football days in Titletown and was the beneficiary of countless Lombardi stories, including how Bob Skoronski and his teammates were constantly aware of Lombardi’s imposing presence.
“My grandfather was getting ice cream (in Green Bay) with his family and Lombardi was out and about,’’ Peter Skoronski said. “Lombardi comes walking into the ice cream shop and he (his grandfather) saw him and hid his ice cream behind his back, just so Lombardi wouldn’t see him eating ice cream and putting on weight.’’
Peter Skoronski relished his grandfather’s storytelling, and immensely enjoyed being around him. To say the grandfather has a profound influence on the grandson would be an understatement of major proportions.
“He has sort of been my football mentor, my idol,’’ Skoronski said at the recent NFL Scouting Combine. “Ever since I was born, I looked up to him and followed in his footsteps.
“So this is kind of a dream, continuing his legacy.’’
Barring something unforeseen, Peter Skoronski figures to carry on Bob Skoronski’s legacy quite nicely. After all, Peter Skoronski is regarded as one of the top prospects in this year’s draft, which begins on April 27.
Most NFL scouts consider the hulking 6-foot-4, 313-pound Skoronski – his grandfather was 6-3, 249 – and Ohio State’s Paris Johnson as the two best draft prospects at the left tackle position.
Yet, as highly regarded of a left tackle as Skoronski is, there is a faction of NFL personnel who contend he would be an even better guard in the pros. Skoronski, who has played tackle virtually his entire life, concedes moving inside on the offensive line would be a challenge, but a challenge he would gladly accept.
“It would certainly be an adjustment,’’ Skoronski said. “I would embrace it. It’s going to take tons and tons of reps and tons of film to get used to that. You just have to grind it out and put in the work. But I’m more than happy to do it.’’
One of the principal reasons some NFL talent evaluators believe Skoronski would be better suited for guard than tackle is his arm length. It is 32¼ inches. While that’s not ideal, Skoronski isn’t overly concerned about that measurable, insisting there are other more important factors to being a standout tackle.
“Arm length doesn’t really determine a great tackle, a great player,’’ Skoronski said. “I think it’s pretty irrelevant.
“You win blocking with your feet, really, and quickness out of your stance. That’s actually something I learned from my grandfather, a trait that he has passed on to me.
“I think it’s one of the most important things you can do at any position, getting out of your stance and getting going. I personally believe you’re screwed if you don’t get out of your stance fast.’’
It isn’t expected to take long for Skoronski to hear his named called by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on draft night. Skoronski is regarded as a lock to be drafted in the upper-half of the first round.
There are a slew of teams in the market for an offensive tackle the caliber of Skoronski, including Philadelphia, which has the 10th overall pick, Tennessee, which picks 11th, and the New York Jets, who have the 13th pick.
Skoronski also had formal meetings at the Combine with Green Bay (No. 15), Washington (No. 16) and Pittsburgh (No. 17).
Skoronski said he wouldn’t be averse to playing for any of the NFL’s 32 teams. Yet, in his heart of hearts, he acknowledges being drafted by one team in particular would be special. And that’s the same one his grandfather played for 11 seasons.
“There’s no denying I grew up a Packers fan and it would be an enormous deal to me and my family and kind of a dream come true in a sense,’’ said Skoronski, who was born and raised in Park Ridge, Ill. “I’d be happy to go anywhere else, but there is this place in my heart for the Packers. It would be unreal for sure.’’