Green Bay Packers: Final 53-Man Roster Predictions

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Jan 18, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright (50) tackles Green Bay Packers tight end Richard Rodgers (89) in the NFC Championship at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks defeated the Packers 28-22 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tight End

* = starter; + = roster spot

* Andrew Quarless
+ Richard Rodgers
Justin Perillo
+ Kennard Backman
+ Mitchell Henry

Aug 3, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless practice during training camp at Ray Nitschke Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

A position that was seen as a relative weakness last year — quite possibly the only major one across the entire offense — the tight end spot has a chance of being a much more viable option in 2015.

Much hasn’t really changed in terms of who is there as options — three of the five guys currently on the roster were also around last season — but the potential impact they provide could be more effective.

My presumed starter is Andrew Quarless once again. As I illustrated in the first slide I’m expecting a suspension of some level for his misconduct over the summer (i.e.: firing a gun into the air on July 4). Whether or not he receives a suspension, it probably won’t be coming until later in the year.

Either way, Quarless sits atop the chart.

Aug 29, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers tight end Kennard Backman (86) catches a pass as Philadelphia Eagles safety Ed Reynolds (30) makes the tackle during the third quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

He’s the most experienced option on the roster; he’s been on the team since the Super Bowl season in 2010. Quarless may not be a dynamic option, but he’s capable and steady, which is really all Green Bay truly needs from this position; remember that even with only two main options for production in the passing game last season, the Packers managed to lead the league in scoring (30.4 PPG). Add in the talk coming from multiple sources around Green Bay (including himself, Aaron Rodgers and his position coach Jerry Fontenot) and it would appear he’ll be given every chance to step up and hold down the #1 tight end spot. His recent legal issues complicate this possibility of course — he’s likely to see some kind of suspension at some point– but since we have no indication on when it will be handed down or how long that might be it seems prudent to keep him set where he is.

Next up is a guy who I’m hoping takes a major step in year two: Richard Rodgers. Rodgers didn’t produce all that much last year; he only managed 20 catches, 225 yards and 2 TDs on the year. He did have a few decent performances mixed in there however; he provided a key TD catch versus the Patriots, as well as one in the playoff game against Dallas. He also showed ability to grab tough passes while getting rocked, like against Seattle in the NFC Championship game when Kam Chancellor delivered a crushing hit; many players would have dropped that ball, but Rodgers held on for an early first down. By all accounts — including from #12 — Richard Rodgers has some of the surest hands around; the more those are out on the field, the better. He may start the year as the #2 tight end again, but I believe he’ll have stepped up to become a decent #1 option by the end.

Of the three players left I see two making the final roster.

Aug 3, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers tight end Mitchell Henry (85) practice with full back Aaron Ripkowski (22) during training camp at Ray Nitschke Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Of the Perillo/Backman/Henry trifecta, I see the two newer options stepping onto the final roster.

These two are actually pretty similar. Both have quality hands, ability to make tough catches in traffic, and make plays up the seam. These two also won’t be mistaken for good blockers; each lacks the size and strength to factor positively in that area. Each player needs to refine their route-running chops too. What will decide this of course should be who shows the most leading up to the season. In the event that things are too close to call performance-wise — which is what I’m banking on happening right now — then I expect the guy with the drafted status to be given priority; that’s Backman.

With my projected thought of less three-WR sets being used this year, Henry also should be able to nab a spot; his work with the special teams unit combining with his other abilities should be enough to overtake the underwhelming Perillo.

While the tight end position may not appear to be all that exciting in Green Bay for this coming year, it doesn’t need to be; it just has to be competent and steady. That much shouldn’t be an issue, no matter which guys eventually end up on the roster. And for those guys that do, there is potential there for someone to blossom into the type of exciting options we’ve craved at the tight end slot since the days of Jermichael Finley.

We’ll just have to wait and see if any of them can actually do so.