Colt Lyerla photo courtesy of Standing O Sports

Tight end competition one to watch for Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers tight end competition is one for not only a roster spot, but also time on the field. With Andrew Quarless the only tight end currently on the roster with significant experience, this summer’s competition is sure to be one to watch.

Vikings Packers FootballDon’t get me wrong, I like Andrew Quarless, but he seems like a stop gap rather than a long-term producer. But I could be wrong. He is a willing blocker and can make plays through the air. At times he has flashed big play ability. Against Dallas and Atlanta last season he posted season highs and nearly identical stats, six receptions for 66 yards on seven targets and a touchdown in each game. It should also be appreciated that he has playoff and Super Bowl experience.

After Quarless are a bunch of guys with the ever shifty P-word – potential – and a couple of guys that will make the roster on their ability to play tight end, but mainly their special teams talents.
Third year tight end Brandon Bostick, built very much like Jermichael Finley – more on him momentarily – with similar athletic credentials got on the field some in 2013 before breaking a bone in his foot. A big receiving target who Coach Mike McCarthy has called an ascending player and praised the development of Bostick’s blocking skills.

Photo courtesy of sportspyder

Photo courtesy of sportsspyder

At the end of the third round the Packers may have reached just a bit and selected tight end Richard Rodgers from Cal. He’s a gifted athlete and possesses a pair of rather large hands, 10 1/4” to be exact, this an asset that seems to be a prerequisite for a tight end.

His upside is his athleticism, burst off the line of scrimmage and anticipated play making ability as a receiver. As a blocker he needs some polish. The biggest thing about Rodgers is he is a bit of a mystery. At Cal he played under two different coaches and played two different positions, wide receiver and tight end. Rodgers is a project who Ted Thompson may believe could be coached up to blossom into a Jimmy Graham-type player.

The wild card of this bunch is Colt Lyerla from Oregon. Much has been written about his shenanigans off the field. Thompson is rolling the dice with this acquisition hoping that the stable personalities in the Packers’ locker room can help Lyerla make a fresh start in the NFL.

The experts believe Lyerla is a first round talent who got in his own way with erratic behavior. The Packers took a flyer and signed him as an undrafted free agent following a two-day tryout. Lyerla ran a 4.61 in the 40-yard dash and posted a 39-inch vertical leap at the NFL combine this past spring.

He is extremely athletic for the position and is said to be hard working and competitive. If he can keep his emotions in check the Packers may have gotten a steal.

Ryan Taylor has been a very consistent player on the Packers special teams units. He has toughness and a mean streak. Both are attributes needed to be a special team’s ace. His contributions on offense have been and are expected to be minimal.

Jake Stoneburner, a second-year player from Ohio State cracked the roster in 2013 after starting out on the practice squad. He will have to battle to find a home on the active roster.

Also on the Packers’ 90-man roster is Justin Perillo an undrafted free-agent from the University of Maine.

As each day passes it seems less likely that the Packers will be re-signing free agent tight end Jermichael Finley. After injuring his neck and subsequently having spinal fusion surgery in 2013 the Packers have taken a very cautious approach to resigning him. I would guess that Finley’s time in Green Bay may be up.

Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick both have a great opportunity in front of them. Time will tell if they can capitalize on it. I’ve got hunch either Rodgers or Lyerla may find their way on the field and surprise a few people. This battle at tight end will be fun to watch.

In addition to writing for Patrick Hughes is the creator of “On the Road with the Green & Gold – A Journey Into Packer Nation.” Patrick also blogs about garden design at Wheel & Barrow Landscape, and formerly wrote for Oregon Sports News.


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