PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Marcedes Lewis “An A+Move”

Cheesehead TV co-founder and PackersNews reporter/contributor Aaron Nagler called the Green Bay Packers signing of TE Marcedes Lewis yesterday an “A+ move”.  That’s  a really difficult take to argue with.  The Lewis signing upgrades the offense, and specifically turns the 3rd tight end position on the depth chart into a position of strength.  In 2017 that spot was projected to be Richard Rodgers.  Until Lewis’ signing that spot was supposed to go to Emanuel Byrd.  Lewis  (or Lance Kendricks) is an immense upgrade over both those situations.

The Lewis signing is a home run for a number of reasons.

1.  He’s a perfect complement to Jimmy Graham.

Lewis was Pro Football Focus’s #1 run blocking TE a season ago, and according to Nate Jahnke, it wasn’t close.  Lewis is an exceptional in-line tight end and the strengths of his game line up with the areas of playing tight end that Graham tends to struggle with.  Lewis affords the Packers the ability to run the ball more effectively on early downs, while remaining a threat in the pass game.  Because Lewis is an exceptional blocker, the idea is that the run game will improve, and it should.

Lewis has legitimate upside as a pass catcher attached to the line.  Lewis has suffered through a phenomenon I’ve come to call “shitty QB-itis”.  Blake Bortles, David Garrard, Luke McCown and Blaine Gabbert do not exactly get the football fan excited, at least not from a pure passing standpoint.  Rodgers will be far and away the most talented passer he’s ever played with.  The same theory worked well when Rodgers revitalized Jared Cook.

2.  He allows Green Bay accomplish multiple things using “12” and “13” personnel.  

Lewis is a classic in-line TE.  In fact, he’s one of the league’s very best at the position.  Because of the different pieces that Green Bay posseses, the Packers can use both “12”, one back two tight ends, or “13” one back three tight ends, without giving much away.

I tweeted out what Green Bay’s set might look like with just Graham and Kendricks

Beyond that, even, are the possibilities with “13” personnel.  Here’s a great clip from Jim Schwartz on what a problem “13” is for defenses.

Green Bay has a ton of different ways they can use Kendricks, Graham and Lewis together,  because Lewis is a (more than) capable in-line blocker, Graham is a capable wide receiver and Kendricks is a capable H-Back, the Packers can use these guys in a lot of different ways.

That’s all the stuff they can do with one simple personnel grouping.  That grouping doesn’t include Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, Randall Cobb or any of the young wide receiver options.  Lewis completes the Packers’ tight end group and has a chance to complete their offense.

3.  He buys Green Bay time for the TE future.

The Packers figure to have four picks in the first three rounds next season.  Unless something happens to Rodgers again, they’ll be picking pretty low.  They’ll probably look to take a tackle unless Bulaga’s season goes off with a hitch and a pass rusher, though they could dip into the receiver market or even look at a QB.

What the Lewis signing does, especially if it’s a two year deal, is buy the Packers time to draft a player in 2019 and work him in as TE3.  Graham and Lewis should hold up for a season or two and the Lewis signing tells me that they’re not enthralled with Byrd, Kevin Rader, Ryan Smith or Robert Tonyan, and they probably shouldn’t be.  They’re all undrafted guys.  If Green Bay wants to invest draft capital into a position that historically requires a little “seasoning”, they now have the vets to sit behind and the vets to learn from.

For all of these reasons and a few more, the Lewis signing is an “A+” move.

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

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