GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers have not been settled at the center position in recent years.
Green Bay will have its fourth different starting center in as many years in 2014 after Scott Wells, Jeff Saturday and Evan Dietrich-Smith have all departed through retirement or free agency. JC Tretter had been penciled in as the leading candidate for the job.
And now there's another challenger as well: Ohio State's Corey Linsley, who was drafted in the fifth round Saturday, the 161st pick overall.
The 6-2 1/2, 299-pound Linsley was the sixth center selected.
"He's a really good long-snapper," said offensive line coach James Campen. "Does a very good job of double-teaming. He pulls very well. Gets to his aiming points very well. His pass blocking is very good. Showed ability to block nose one-on-one while both guards are fanning out. Uses his leverage to his advantage. He has room to improve. He'll get in and learn our terminology and I expect him to get better."
Linsley was a first-team all-Big Ten pick in 2013, starting all 14 games. He began his collegiate career as a guard and tackle but started the final 26 games at center.
The transition from guard to center in 2012 -- soon after he also served a two-game suspension in 2011 for a violation of team rules, the nature of which he did not want to divulge -- was momentous for him in many ways.
"The position change -- I was a different person when I played guard and had a different work ethic, a different character," said Linsley. "It was totally different. The transition was really not only on the field but also in my life. It was all a change for the better."
At the combine, Linsley ran the 40-yard dash in 5.25 seconds (seventh among 11 who took part) and his 27-inch vertical was middle of the pack among the participants.
For Linsley, getting the call from the Packers was a special thrill, because that was his favorite team.
"It was unbelievable. I hadn't spoken to the Packers very much," he said. "They actually were my childhood favorite team, so just to see that Caller ID show up 'Green Bay, WI' -- it was really a dream come true.
"I was Brett Favre for Halloween when I was like 6 or something. I had a little Cheesehead, too. I've always liked them since then. I don't know why, but I've stuck with it and know it's like a childhood dream come true."
The fifth-year senior will primarily compete with Tretter, a fourth-round pick from 2013, who is penciled in as the starter. He did not play a single snap because of an injured ankle and will have to prove he can handle the responsibility of playing in front of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
"It's going to be a competitive situation," said Campen. "We've got Garth (Gerhart), JC and Corey. Going to be a very, very competitive camp for making the team."
Linsley is a workout warrior and that could help him at a power position. He bench-pressed the 225-pound weight 36 times at the combine in February, a very high number.
"I grew up in the weight room. That's where I first learned about football, was in the Boardman High School weight room," he said. "I've always took pride in the level of strength that I've played with. It's always been one of my fortes."
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said it was good to finally draft a true center, because he infamously shuffles his offensive linemen.
"Anybody you talk to at Ohio State and the reputation he has there, and just the way he plays, it will be good just to have a natural center come in and play that position," said McCarthy. "I view him as a center. I know we historically move our guys around, but I think it's important for him to come in and play center."
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