Packers Annual Checkup: OL Greg Van Roten

March 16, 2013

Today is the 48th day of FOX Sports Wisconsin Packers writer Paul Imig's offseason evaluations of every player on Green Bay's roster. Click here for all of Paul's previous evaluations and come back every day through mid-March for Paul's in-depth film and statistical analysis. Coming up soon:

Sunday, March 17: TE D.J. Williams
Monday, March 18: CB Tramon Williams
Tuesday, March 19: DL C.J. Wilson
Wednesday, March 20: DL Jerel Worthy
Thursday, March 21: OLB Frank Zombo
Season stats: Four games (three regular season, one postseason); 22 offensive snaps total, 20 of which were as a run-blocker; zero penalties committed
Best game: Week 16 win over Tennessee (eight snaps; 0.0 PFF rating)
Worst game: Wild-card win over Minnesota (four snaps; minus-1.0 PFF rating) season rating: minus-1.5
Expectations at the start of the season: Low
Expectations were ... Met
Looking live: Van Roten, an undrafted rookie out of the University of Pennsylvania, was signed by the Packers the day before training camp began. Despite not going through offseason workouts in Green Bay as his new teammates had, Van Roten competed well in training camp. Given the lack of depth on the Packers’ offensive line, the 23-year-old was able to stick around until the last round of cuts prior to the regular season. Green Bay then signed Van Roten to the team’s practice squad. On Oct. 13, Van Roten was called up to the active roster. Late in the season, after Jeff Saturday was benched as the starting center, Van Roten moved into the role that new starting center Evan Dietrich-Smith had previously occupied as a backup interior lineman. Van Roten played only 22 snaps, 20 of which were as a run blocker. 
Upon further review: Van Roten, like fellow undrafted rookie Don Barclay, was a pleasant surprise on the Packers’ offensive line. Van Roten is the type of smart player who can be groomed by Green Bay’s coaching staff over the course of a few years into a solid contributor. He showed early signs of that ability already last season. Van Roten wasn’t exactly playing against SEC competition in college, but he was twice named a first-team All-Ivy League selection. But, at 6-foot-3, 303 pounds, he lacks the size of starting guards Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang (both 318 pounds). That may make Van Roten better suited as a center in the NFL, as his frame is very comparable with that of Dietrich-Smith, who coach Mike McCarthy believes is more natural at center than guard. It’s also important to note is that his last name is pronounced “Van-RO-tin,” not “Van-Rotten.”
Overall 2012 grade: Incomplete
Status for 2013: 45 percent chance of being on the Packers’ active roster in Week 1 next season. Green Bay’s offensive line will undergo changes prior to the 2013 regular season. Tackle Derek Sherrod will return from a year-long injury, 2012 seventh-round pick Andrew Datko -- who was on the practice squad the entire season -- will add to the competition, and the Packers could draft or sign others. They will also search for other Van Roten/Barclay types at the conclusion of the draft. All of that could make it challenging for Van Roten to make the active roster, but it’s certainly not impossible. At the moment, Van Roten is the team’s top backup interior offensive lineman. At the very least, he could be a player on the practice squad who gets called up again if the offensive line has any injuries, and that usually happens during a long season.