Last week I examined and ranked the Packers’ edge rushers heading into OTAs. This week it’s time to move over to the offensive side of the ball and take a closer look at the Packers’ tight ends. The Packers currently have 7 tight ends on their roster and each player will fall into one of the following categories.
Impact Player – A potential Pro Bowler who opposing teams need to game plan for.
Solid Starter – An average to slightly above average starter.
Quality Backup/Role Player – A player who can start if needed and may also contribute on special teams. These players may also have some upside and untapped potential.
Not Guaranteed a Roster Spot – A player who may be fighting to make the final 53 man roster.
Without a clear cut number one tight end, this should be one of the most interesting position battles to watch as the season approaches. Will veteran Andrew Quarless be able to hold off young and athletic prospects like Brandon Bostick and Richard Rodgers? Will Colt Lyerla make the leap from undrafted free agent to the opening day 53?
There is a lot yet to be determined, but here is how I see the Packers’ current tight end group.
None. The Packers are currently without a dynamic pass catching tight end, and unless the Packers re-sign Jermichael Finley, or one of the young players step up their game this season, it could be the weakest link on the Packers’ offense.
- Andrew Quarless – After missing all of the 2012 season due to injury, A healthy Quarless started 10 games for the Packers last season, catching 32 passes and 2 touchdowns. Quarless hasn’t developed into the pass catching threat that the Packers had hoped for when they drafted him in the 5th round of the 2010 draft, but even with just 56 career receptions and 3 career touchdowns, he is the Packers’ most accomplished tight end.
Quality Backup/Role Players
- Richard Rodgers – Rodgers gets the second spot on this list solely based on where he was drafted. Besides Quarless, I believe Rodgers is the only other Packer tight end who is a lock to make the final 53. Rodgers wasn’t very productive in college, and he didn’t test well at the combine, but the Packers obviously see something in him that makes them think he can be a productive NFL tight end.
- Brandon Bostick – After spending his rookie year on the practice squad, Bostick made the opening day roster last season based on his athleticism and potential. Bostick caught just 7 passes in 11 games last season, but he received praise from Mike McCarthy for his blocking ability and special teams play. It remains to be seen whether or not Bostick will make another leap in his development this season, but if he can, he could become an import part of the Packers’ offense.
Not Guaranteed a Roster Spot
- Ryan Taylor – If Taylor makes the final roster it will be due to his special teams prowess. In 3 seasons in the NFL, Taylor has just 8 career receptions for 45 yards.
- Colt Lyerla – Lyerla is the wildcard of this group. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the Packers number one tight end by the end of the season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was cut in the preseason. Lyerla has the talent to be a starting NFL tight end, but will his off-field issues keep him from reaching his full potential?
- Jake Stoneburner – Stoneburner was one of the more notable undrafted free agent signings by the Packers last season. After starting the season on the practice squad, he was activated to the 53 man roster in October. Playing mostly special teams, Stoneburner did not catch a pass during the regular season. His -4.6 special teams grade from Profootballfocus.com was one of the lowest on the Packer last years, so he will need to show major improvement if he hopes to have a shot at making the opening day roster.
- Justin Perillo – An undrafted rookie free agent out of Maine, I can’t see a scenario where Perillo makes the opening day roster, but he may have a shot at making the practice squad. Perillo played in 44 career games at Maine and had 128 receptions to go along with 15 touchdowns.