The Packers have an offense that is widely regarded as one of the best in the NFL, but Green Bay would like to see some major improvements at the tight end position next season.
Even with established veteran Andrew Quarless and promising second-year player Richard Rodgers, Green Bay’s weakest roster spot on offense will undeniably be at tight end. The Packers could do much worse than Quarless and Rodgers, but neither showed true star-potential in 2014.
Calling the tight ends the weak link is not necessarily a bold statement for the Packers. They have a two-time MVP at quarterback, two thousand-yard receivers who caught double-digit touchdowns, a running back that rushed for 1100 yards in each of his first two seasons, and four offensive linemen who rank in the top five at their respective positions.
But nonetheless, Green Bay both hopes and expects that the tight ends on the roster can take a step forward and give Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense a new dimension.
Quarless is entering the final year of his contract which will likely be his last season in Green Bay. He has always been reliable and consistent for the Packers, but never took over a role as a true offensive threat.
Last year was the best season of his career, but his career-highs included just 323 yards and three touchdowns. Quarless has been a model of consistency for Green Bay, but never took the next step in his career to fill the role that was voided by Jermichael Finley.
Richard Rodgers is the reason that Quarless is likely expendable after the season ends. He was drafted in the third round of 2014 to be the solution at tight end for at least the next few years. During his rookie season, he showed potential as a receiver but struggled immensely as a blocker.
Rodgers had 225 receiving yards and two touchdowns last year, and the Packers appeared to be grooming him to replace Quarless. He and Quarless split snaps throughout the year, but Rodgers’ youth and higher ceiling make him the favorite going forward. Rodgers is likely to be the starting tight end at the start of the season, but he has a lot of work to do to be the solution to Green Bay’s tight end problem.
Rodgers was rated by Pro Football Focus as the worst offensive player on the Packers last year, and was abysmal at run blocking for much of the year. But Rodgers has plenty of potential as a receiving threat, which is what gives him the edge over Quarless. It is yet to be seen whether Rodgers will make the leap to a true offensive weapon or if he will simply be another consistent player like Quarless.
Rodgers is the favorite to step up this year, but sixth round pick Kennard Backman, second-year player Justin Perillo, and undrafted rookie Mitchell Henry will also look to impress during training camp and assert themselves as possible options in the future.
The Green Bay offense is already loaded with weapons, but the Packers hope that one of their tight ends will turn their biggest weakness into an asset once again. The Packers need a big body who can utilize the middle of the field like Finley once did. Having a legitimate tight end would further open up the field for Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.
Green Bay’s tight ends are not horrible, and plenty of teams would jump at the chance to have Quarless or Rodgers on their rosters. But in the Packers’ offense, the only dimension that is missing is a tight end that defenses have to really pay attention to. If the Packers can get that type of presence from Rodgers, Quarless or one of their younger tight ends, then it will be even more difficult for defenses to stop what would be a truly complete offense.——————
Sean Blashe is a Packers fan who grew up in Bears territory and is currently a journalism and history major at Marquette University. Sean is a writer with PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @SeanBlashe .