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The Blind Side: Bakhtiari’s Quiet Rise to Dominance

David Bakhtiari’s performance against the Chicago Bears on Sunday evening was the perfect example of what he has become for the Green Bay Packers – one of the most dominant left tackles in the NFL. Out of 60 offensive snaps, he nearly pitched the offensive tackle version of a shutout, allowing only one QB pressure.

Bakhtiari’s numbers over the past two seasons have been simply astounding. In 2017, Bakhtiari allowed 1 sack and 12 total QB pressures on a total of 754 offensive snaps. In other words, he kept the blind side of the Packers quarterback free of pressure on 98.4% of all offensive plays. According to Pro Football Focus, Bakhtiari was by far their highest graded left tackle in pass protection for the year.  2016 reflected a similar level of dominance. Out of 1,055 offensive snaps, he allowed 4 sacks and 20 total QB pressures. This equated to Bakhtiari keeping 98.1% of all plays pressure-free.

These are the type of numbers you’d typically expect out of a highly recruited, highly selected first round draft pick. However, what makes Bakhtiari’s story even more exceptional is his humble beginnings. Coming out of high school, Bakhtiari was only rated a two-star prospect. Drawing minimal interest from schools in his home state of California, he chose to attend Colorado University.

In the 2013 NFL draft, Ted Thompson selected Bakhtiari with the 12th pick in the 4th round. This was the 109th pick overall. Eight offensive linemen were drafted before him that year, with five coming off the board in the first round. Of those eight drafted before him, only five even played a significant number of NFL snaps in 2017. None have come close to matching the dominance of Bakhtiari since 2013. Indeed, Bakhtiari is one of top draft picks of the entire Ted Thompson era.

Despite his success on the field, Bakhtiari continues to maintain a relatively low national profile. While he did receive a Pro Bowl invitation in 2016, and second team All-Pro honors in 2016 and 2017, his national recognition is minimal when compared to other left tackles in the league. For example, Andrew Whitworth of the Los Angeles Rams, was selected as a first team All-Pro in 2017, while Bakhtiari was voted second team. However, Whitworth allowed 5 more sacks and twice as many QB pressures throughout the season. What is the reason for this relative lack of national recognition? Perhaps it was his lower draft profile from the beginning of his career. Perhaps it is because of a last name that is more difficult to pronounce.

Whatever the reason, Bakhtiari prefers to focus on the team’s overall goal vs individual accolades. “I just want to win Super Bowls, that is the most important thing.”

Packers fans can celebrate the unheralded star that we have protecting the blindside of our future Hall of Fame quarterback. He may not get the national headlines, but he is the most important player on the Packers roster not named Aaron Rodgers.

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