PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Tight End Summer Battle

Richard Rodgers

The tight end position in Green Bay is the one that both baffles and excites me the most.  I have literally talked myself into 3 different players as the #1 contributor on the team (4 if you include Jermichael Finley).  I truly the believe the position is fascinating.  When you add in the fact that the team’s best special teams contributor, Ryan Taylor, basically has to make the team you can talk yourself into 5 TEs making the roster.

Due to the unfortunate end of Johnathan Franklin’s career this 5 TE roster is possible, but the idea that the team would be best served keeping 6 WRs muddies those waters.  Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick, Colt Lyerla and Richard Rodgers all bring different things to the position and I don’t really want to see any of them go.  What makes it intriguing is that I really don’t believe the team can afford to keep 3 QBs 6 WR 4 RB and 5 TE.  That’s 18/53 players dedicated to the offensive skill positions.  If you add 8 OL and 3 specialists to that number that’s 29/53.  It’s very unlikely that the Packers go into the season with only 24 defenders.  They kept 27 last year and with the mantra being “more personnel, less scheme” I wouldn’t be shocked to see that number climb to 28 or 29.

That means at least one of Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien, DuJuan Harris, John Kuhn, Jared Abbrederis, Chris Harper, Andrew Quarless, Colt Lyerla, Ryan Taylor, or Brandon Bostick are going to be released.  God only knows what would happen to the roster if Jermichael Finley is re-signed.

As weird as this sounds, the only player that I’m going to give lock status to make the roster is Richard Rodgers.  There’s no way that Ted is going to release a third round pick, it’s just not going to happen.  There is a scenario, however, where the Packers would release Andrew Quarless, so he does not receive lock status.  Justin Perillo will not make the team.

The contenders:

Andrew Quarless- “Q” is a bit of an incumbent at the position.  In 2 of the last 4 seasons Quarless has been required to take meaningful snaps at the position due to catastrophic injuries to Jermichael Finley.  He showed a lot of promise early in his career, but has not appeared to be on the same career arc since the devastating knee injury he suffered at Minnesota in 2011.  Quarless is the only tight end on the roster that seems like he could be a “complete” player and not just one with a specialty but a jack of all trades and a master of none is not what this football team needs.  Quarless needs to show improvement either in his blocking or his receiving to stay a part of this team for a long time.

Colt Lyerla- Lyerla is the most phyiscally gifted tight end on the roster.  He has the potential to be Gronkowski-like in the Packers offense if he commits himslef to the game and stays out of trouble.  While he might not be 6’6″ like Gronk, his blend of speed (4.6 40) strength (15 reps) and leaping ability (39 inches) while playing with a better QB (Rodgers) could make him the same red zone and middle of the field terror.  I firmly believe that if Lyerla would have been a church going leader of the Eugene, OR community he would have been the second tight end selected behind Eric Ebron, at the end of the 1st round or the beginning of the 2nd.  He wasn’t and now he’s a UDFA trying to find a way with the Packers.  If they’re able to make this kid a part of the family, though, it could be Pro Bowl special.

Brandon Bostick- Bostick is a player oozing with potential.  The comparison that comes to mind with me is Julius Thomas.  Both players are small school guys with basketball backgrounds and height weight and speed combinations.  Thomas did virtulaly nothing for the Broncos in his first two seasons, amassing 2 total catches.  In his third season in the league the light went on and playing with an elite QB he broke on to the scene with a very respectable stat line of 65 catches 788 yards and 12 TDs.  If Bostick were able to repeat those numbers he would hold every single season record in Green Bay Packers history.  While this is unlikely it is not completely insane.

Ryan Taylor- this is going to be Special Teams Coach Shawn Slocum’s call.  Ryan Taylor never projected to and  never has been an effective offensive player.  He is, hoever, one of the better special teams players on the team.  If the Packers believe they can get by on specials without Taylor on the roster he won’t make the team.  He has been effective enough at blocking to see some time at fullback and in-line TE.

Jermichael Finley- he has to at least be mentioned.  If Finley is cleared and return I think it makes this offense the best one that I have seen in my lifetime.  The offense would be in a situation where it’s weakest skill position player in most sets is either Jarret Boykin or Davante Adams.  That’s insane.  I actually believe if Finley re-signs it automatically moves the number of receivers that make the team from 6 to 5, so it might not mean anything for the TE numbers.

Prediction: If you put a gun to my head, which I feel like asking this question is kinda like I think four TEs make the team.  I don’t believe Finley comes back that number goes to 5 and Chris Harper doesn’t make the team.  I’m actually going to believe that Quarless is the one who is cut.  I see great potential in both Bostick and Lyerla and I don’t think the team is good enough on specials to cut Taylor.  After I gave Rodgers lock status I think he and Lyerla play the “big slot” and Taylor and Bostick see time at the in-line position.

 

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Ross Uglem is a writer at PackersTalk.com. You can follow Ross on twitter at RossUglem

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