Green Bay Packers 2015 tight ends: Do the longshots have a chance?


New Hampshire Wildcats tight end Harold Spears. Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

In this series we take a close look at the Green Bay Packers 90-man roster on the verge of training camp and discuss each player’s chances of making the final 53.

Previous Position Breakdown: QuarterbackRunning Back, Wide Receiver Pt. 1, Wide Receiver Pt. 2, Wide Receiver Pt. 3

Things officially got interesting for the Packers tight end group, considering the Andrew Quarless news over Fourth of July weekend.

The position was already under a lot of reconstruction after cutting ties with promising young player Brandon Bostick after the Seattle playoff loss. The team is still looking for a one of their young guys to step up and fill the enormous playmaking void left by Jermichael Finley’s early departure following the 2013 season.

Quarless just hasn’t been the guy in his five seasons with Green Bay, and now with his recent arrest for discharging a firearm in public, the Packers have to wait and see what kind of punishment the NFL will dish out to the 26-year-old tight end.

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It’s a possibility Quarless could get suspended and miss some playing time. Some even speculated if the Packers would cut him after the incident, but it doesn’t appear the team is ready to make any rash decisions.

With Quarless’s future up in the air at this point, the Packers will have to lean heavily on second-year man Richard Rodgers going into this season.

The team also drafted athletic tight end, Kennard Backman, out of Alabama-Birmmingham, who may factor in as a receiving threat at the position.

With Rodgers and Backman and few undrafted free agents, the Packers are very young at the tight position going into camp. If Quarless doesn’t return to the team soon, they may want to consider bringing in a veteran presence, via a trade or free agency.

However, history tells us this is not Ted Thompson‘s style, and even if Quarless will miss significant amount of time, Thompson will stand pat with what he has on the roster.

Considering this, let’s take a look at what the Packers have at the tight end position and discuss who is safe going into camp and who will need to fight for a roster spot.

Next: Who are the longshots?

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers tight end Mitchell Henry (80) catches a touchdown pass against Florida Atlantic Owls safety Damian Parms (17). Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Long Shots – Mitchell Henry (6-4, 252), Harold Spears (6-4, 248)

Both Henry and Spears have their work cut out for them to make the Packers final roster by the end of camp.

But, considering the lack of depth at the position, they may land one of the last roster spots with a strong performance in the preseason.

Henry is a Western Kentucky product who started 24 of the 47 games for the Hilltoppers. As a senior, he proved to be an effective receiving weapon in their offense, recording 32 receptions for 489 yards and four touchdowns.

The 6-foot-4, 252-pound tight end has decent speed (4.69) and excellent leaping ability. He recored a 37-inch vertical jump at his pro day.

So far Henry has made the most of his opportunities in Green Bay. He’s coming off a strong minicamp performance, which drew the attention of many of the Packers beat reporters, and now he needs to continue this momentum into training camp to make a case for a roster spot.

New Hampshire Wildcats tight end Harold Spears (89) catches a pass. Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Spears is an undrafted rookie out of New Hampshire, who at 6-foot-4 and 248 pounds, looks to fit the bill of an NFL tight end. He could be an underdog candidate to make the Packers roster at the position.

He was highly productive in the Wildcats offense. He not only recorded 56 receptions for 838 yards and four touchdowns as a senior, he averaged around 15 yards per catch throughout his entire collegiate career.

Spears shows good athleticism in the open field, and with some time, he could be a pretty good receiving option at the tight end position.

Both Henry and Spears may surprise some people in camp this summer, but realistically, they’re probably competing to make a case for the Packers’ practice squad.

Early Roster Projection

Depending on what happens with Quarless, the Packers final outlook the position could change, but for now, I’m working under the assumption that Quarless will return to the team, even if he has to face a few-game suspension from the league.

With this in mind, I believe the Packers will keep four tight ends on their final roster–Richard Rodgers, Andrew Quarless, Kennard Backman, and Justin Perillo.

However, look for either Henry or Spears to push Perillo for that fourth spot in camp next month.

Previous Position Breakdown: QuarterbackRunning Back, Wide Receiver Pt. 1, Wide Receiver Pt. 2, Wide Receiver Pt. 3