Packers: Position group rankings ahead of training camp

Green Bay Packers, Mike Daniels (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Mike Daniels (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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4. Tight end

Starter: Jimmy Graham

In the mix: Marcedes Lewis, Lance Kendricks, Emanuel Byrd, Robert Tonyan, Kevin Rader, Ryan Smith

The big offseason signing was Jimmy Graham. Graham was misused in the Seattle offense and should be a better fit with the Packers and QB Aaron Rodgers. The Packers didn’t stop the overhaul of the tight end position there. They also signed Marecdes Lewis. Lewis is a solid blocker and a big target in the red zone.

Lance Kendricks had a so-so season when thrust into the starting lineup, once the Martellus Bennet experiment didn’t work. Kendricks’ poor numbers can also be contributed to the loss of Rodgers.

After the top three, the depth is unproven. Emanuel Byrd had a decent showing in the 2017 season finale but still has a lot to prove. The rest are undrafted free agents. Coach McCarthy loves his tight ends so it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Packers open the 2018 season with four tight ends should someone from that group stand out.

Graham shouldn’t be expected to play a traditional tight end role, but that’s alright. With Lewis capable of filling the more-traditional duties, the Packers can line up Graham out wide or in the slot. With Graham and Lewis, the team has two big targets with the ability to go up and over defenders for the catch. We can expect to see more two-TE sets, especially in the red zone.

Kendricks provides experienced depth and is still a threat down the seam. I would love to see Byrd build off his Week 17 showing and claim a spot on the team.

Overall, the Packers have more experience at tight end than they’ve had in the Rodgers era.

In the event of an injury to Graham, the Packers could get by playing Lewis and Kendricks for a few games. But a long-term injury could spell trouble for the offense.