Packers TE Jace Sternberger is going into his 3rd NFL season in 2021 and the upcoming year could determine whether the 24 year old sticks around in Green Bay long-term or will be heading elsewhere. The 2019, 3rd round draft selection from Texas A&M has had an underwhelming couple of seasons with the Packers, due to injuries, lack of production and other players stepping up at the TE position.
Former Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy often said that the biggest jump players take isn’t from Year 1 to Year 2 but rather Year 2 to Year 3, which is right where Sternberger is at. A good example of a player that made this leap just last year was TE Robert Tonyan, who clearly became a better, more polished and confident football player from 2019 to 2020. Tonyan went from 4 catches in 2018, to 10 catches in 2019 to 52 catches and 11 touchdowns in 2020. Perhaps Sternberger is getting ready for his breakout campaign.
When the Packers drafted Sternberger in the Spring of 2019, they were freshly coming off a 6-9-1 campaign with Robert Tonyan (rookie), Marcedes Lewis, Jimmy Graham and Lance Kendricks as their TE’s from the season before. Sternberger was drafted as a long-term piece, someone who could provide significant value as a pass-catcher down the road. In his final college season with the Aggies, the 6’4, 250 pound TE hauled in 48 catches for a whopping 832 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Fast forward to 2021 and the Packers are ready for Sternberger to become the guy they thought they were getting in the 2019 Draft. For Sternberger to have an effective 3rd season as a pro, the first step in the process will be staying healthy. In his first two NFL seasons, Jace has only played in 18 out of a possible 32 regular season games, which has hindered his progress and opened the door for other players to showcase their abilities.
The 2021 Packers have a deep TE group full of talented and competitive players. Robert Tonyan will be the starter and #1 pass-catcher while Marcedes Lewis will be the primary run-blocker. 2020 3rd round selection Josiah Deguara will be hungry to play after missing most of 2019 as will TE Dominique Dafney, who flashed NFL ability late in the season last year.
Sternberger has the talent and tools have a successful career in the league. If he can find a way to remain healthy, the former Collegiate All-American TE will aim to seize his opportunities and take the critically important leap from Year 2 to Year 3.
Alex grew up in a family of Chicago Bears fans in the suburbs of Chicago but was always a Packers guy. Alex\'s AIM name when he was in elementary/middle school was PackerAlex. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee and you can follow him on twitter at @Alex_Mayer93.