It’s the first time in Ted Thompson’s 10 year-long career as the Packers’ general manager that he hasn’t drafted at least one offensive lineman. While the streak may be over, the Packers may still have come away from the draft with a steal — the undrafted free agent Matt Rotheram.
To be sure, the team has plenty of other priorities to think about right now. But Rotheram has enough talent to make the question of the Packers not having drafted an offensive lineman just a technicality. In fact, considering how much attention the former right guard from the University of Pittsburgh was getting, it’s fairly clear the Packers got themselves one of the highest-priority free agents in the draft.
“A lot of teams” were contacting him towards the end of the draft, according to Rotheram. His phone was ringing so hard he started ignoring calls “just because I was already on the phone with two other teams” and his agent was talking on the phone with another two teams. “I couldn’t even pick up the phone for everybody,” he remarked.
Rotheram decided at some point that he would answer in the event the Packers decided to call, regardless of how tied up he might be in other conversations. The 325-ponud, 6-foot-5 lineman visited Green Bay pre-draft following his own Pro Day. According to Rotheram, as far as he knows, he was the first player who visited the Packers this year.
While it took him a few minutes to get over the “shock and awe” associated with Lambeau Field and all the Lombardi trophies, once he did he realized it was Green Bay where he wanted to be.
Rotheram said that the Packers had always been up front about their interest in him, saying they were “straight” about what the team saw in him and liked about him. As a result, of 15 free agent contracts on offer, Rotheram decided to go with Green Bay.
In return, the Packers are getting a four-year starter who made 2nd-team All-ACC selection his senior year and fans with the Packers tickets can look forward to seeing a very solid player on the field.
At Pittsburgh, Rotheram’s play was technically sound. No other 2014 college football offensive guard got a better run-blocking grade, according to ProFootballFocus, than did Rotheram. The only guard up for the draft who had a lower percentage of plays with a negative grade was the Detroit first-round pick Laken Tomlinson.
Rotheram suspects that it’s his consistency that earned him high marks. “I really don’t make errors” when it comes to the run game, he said. He’s very consistent when it comes to getting moving and blocking assignments, “and doing what I need to do.” He lets the plays break, then “gets out of there.”
Rotheram’s dominance when it comes to the run game is evident in plenty of game film, but according to Rotheram his best preparation came from working on the practice field against former teammate Aaron Donald for three years. Donald is currently one of the NFL’s better rookie defensive tackles, and Rotheram got to play against him every day. “I can’t think of a better [defensive tackle]” to practice against, Rotheram has said.