If he has nothing else, Jake Stoneburner, one of the undrafted free agents signed by the Green Bay Packers this weekend, has by far one of the best names of all the players now in the National Football League.
While he comes into Green Bay listed as a tight end, nobody’s really sure where he will play. He’s played both wide receiver and tight end and didn’t light the world on fire while spending time at either position.
While many thought for months that the Packers would select a tight end with their first round selection – many thought it would have been Tyler Eifert – the Packers did nothing to address the position. Starter Jermichael Finley is in the final year of his two-year contract and many thought Packers GM Ted Thompson would do something to bring in a player through the draft who might be able to replace him.
He did nothing of the sort and it wasn’t until he got Stoneburner to commit to coming to Green Bay as an undrafted free agent that the Packers got a new player at the position. Clearly Stoneburner wasn’t brought in as a replacement.
The Ohio State product doesn’t come to Green Bay with gaudy statistics and may have been passed over by NFL teams in the draft because of those numbers. Last season, he caught just 16 passes for 269 yards (16.8 yard average), and four touchdowns.
In four seasons with the Buckeyes, he caught 53 passes for 714 yards and 13 touchdowns. Decent stats, but certainly nothing worth writing home about. But to his credit, one of the reasons that Stoneburner’s statistics weren’t spectacular was because he’s seen as something of a “tweener.” He was switched from tight end to wide receiver just prior to his senior season and clearly didn’t belong on the outside – he didn’t have the speed and skills to play wide receiver, nor did he have the blocking skills and size to be an effective tight end.
In addition, he didn’t have Aaron Rodgers throwing to him when he was a Buckeye.
But now he does.
So, how will he fit in with the Packers? Well, it’s difficult to say, but they do plan to play him as a tight end. He will get the opportunity to compete, but his road is uphill. In addition to Finley, the Packers already have newcomer Matthew Mulligan, Andrew Quarless, D.J. Williams, and Ryan Taylor on the roster. While it’s a crowded field, it’s unclear whether Quarless will make it back from a nasty knee injury that kept him out all last season and both Taylor and Williams have been slow developers with limited playing time. So, Stoneburner has that going for him.
If nothing else, he will have the best name when the Packers open camp and should draw some attention in the competition for a spot on the team. At best, he will probably have the best chance for a roster spot if he can contribute on special teams.
TT was interested enough to bring him in. It will be up to Stoneburner to prove he belongs.