He’s been one of the most talked about players during OTAs and minicamp. The 3rd round pick out of California has been talked up by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, as well as Coach McCarthy.
During OTAs, Richard Rodgers made amazing one handed catches and displayed the type of athleticism you look for in a top tier tight end.
And now the idea of Rodgers opening the season as the Packers’ starting tight end isn’t as far-fetched as it seemed just a month ago. Jermichael Finley is most likely done in Green Bay, and the leading candidates for the starting job, Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick, haven’t exactly set the world on fire
Quarless, who seemed to have the inside track to the starting tight end job, did not participate at all during OTAs for undisclosed reasons. And even when healthy, Quarless has never been a dynamic pass catching threat.
Bostick, who there are high hopes for this season, missed part of OTAs recovering from the foot injury that ended his season last year, but even if he is healthy, he is still relatively unproven, having only 7 career receptions.
So why am I still skeptical of Rodgers being able to make an immediate impact?
Obviously performing in shorts and shells against teammates is much different than performing in full pads against actual NFL competition. And you don’t have to go back that far in Packer history for an example of a tight end who showed up during preseason activities, but disappeared once the regular season started.
It was just a few short years ago that 5th round pick, D.J. Williams was the talk of OTAs. The Mackey award winner was catching everything that was thrown his way, and there was talk that he could challenge Jermichael Finley for snaps. But the play making ability that showed up in OTAs and minicamp never materialized once the season started. After 2 seasons with the Packers, and just 9 receptions, Williams was cut in August of last year, and is a long shot to make the Patriots’ roster this season.
Rodgers college productivity is also a concern. Although he caught 39 passes for 608 yards his final year at Cal, he only caught 20 balls for 288 yards the previous 2 years combined. Expecting him to carry the load as the Packers starting tight end might be asking a lot out of the rookie.
I still think a healthy Quarless is the Packers’ best option at tight end. But Hopefully for the Packers, Rodgers will be one of the rare players who develops into a better pro than college player, rather than one of many players who shine during minicamps and OTAs, but are never able to find success once the games actually matter.