Tight End will be the most veteran of the position groupings for the Green Bay Packers entering the 2018 season. With the top three players on the depth chart made up of two free agents and a guy in his second year on the team, it will be crucial to develop an early rapport with Aaron Rodgers for the offense reach its potential.
Graham is going to be the best red zone target Aaron Rodgers has ever had. While Graham hasn’t been as productive at stretching the middle of the field for the last two seasons with Seattle, he’ll have the chance to prove he still possesses the athleticism that made him an elite TE early in his career. Graham could be the difference between Green Bay being a good offense and a great one in 2018.
Lewis may end up being the steal of free agency. He’s the best blocking TE on the market, solid in the pass game, and came at a bargain. He represents the perfect number two Tight End, and will probably benefit greatly from playing with a QB better than Blake Bortles.
Kendricks had a disappointing 2017 campaign, but he did look like he was developing a good relationship with Aaron Rodgers before the collarbone injury. I think there’s an outside change Kendricks doesn’t make the roster, but having him at third on the depth chart would give Green Bay the deepest Tight End pool in the NFL.
Byrd is an undersized TE who has shown a willingness to block in-line, although that may not be his strength. He has the movement traits and route running to be a good pass catching target, and after a year on the roster will have his chance to prove himself this offseason. If he shows a special teams prowess, he could make the active roster or spend another year on the Practice Squad.
Tonyan is a QB turned TE who displays tremendous athleticism, but may not have the physicality and toughness to play the position in the NFL. Rader is a former d-linemen who has demonstrated good hands, excellent strength in the run game, but lacks explosiveness to get open in the pass game. Smith is another average athlete who combines toughness and good hands to contribute. All three will be competing for a spot on the Practice Squad.
Barring injury, Tight End is likely to be a position with little controversy this offseason. However, TE is shaping up to be a major factor on the Packers ability to have a successful offensive season in 2018.Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a host of the Pack-A-Day podcast and a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig