You want one that’s wide open? Here you go. The Green Bay Packers have no clear-cut starter at tight end for the 2014 season.
Jermichael Finley would be that guy, but he’s still unsigned. No team, including the Packers, is in a big hurry to employ a guy coming off a major neck injury or meet his price.
That’s not to say the Packers don’t have some intriguing prospects at tight end. They just don’t have a clear-cut No. 1 guy like Finley hanging around.
There are plenty of bodies though and barring a last-minute change of heart on Finley, one of those bodies is going to be the guy.
Here’s a look at what is probably the most wide-open competition in training camp this year.
Quarless will enter training camp as the default No. 1 because that’s where he finished last season. He’s going to have to pick up his game to remain in that position though. In his fourth season, Quarless turned in his best season — 32 catches, 312 yards and two touchdowns. That’s not really a stat line to get excited about.
Still, the Packers thought enough of Quarless to give him a two-year, $3 million deal when he became a free agent this offseason. Of that, $350,000 is guaranteed. That’s valuable backup money is what that is.
Nonetheless, Quarless has the best shot of opening the season as the top guy simply because he’s done it before.
Bostick got his first action with the Packers last season. A wide receiver in college, he sat on the practice squad for a year before making the jump to the big boy’s club. Bostick didn’t see much action on offense until late in the season, but when he did he flashed some ability as a legit playmaker. Then, of course, he got injured in week 15 and didn’t play again.
Had Bostick been able to finish the season, this conversation might be a whole lot different. His story could have been one similar to DuJuan Harris’ in 2012. Came out of nowhere to prove himself a potential big-time contributor down the stretch. Unfortunately, we only got a small sample of what Bostick can do. He finished the season with seven catches for 120 yards and a touchdown. The problem with Bostick has always been his blocking. He hasn’t done much of it, so he doesn’t do it very well.
If that changes, then the Packers have another weapon on their hands.
We’re well aware that pretty much everyone wants to anoint Rodgers as the guy. The third-round pick made all kinds of plays during minicamp and OTAs. Well, we’ve got news for you. Things usually change quickly when the pads actually go on. On top of that, it’s rare for rookie tight ends to make much of an impact. JMike only had six catches for 74 yards in his rookie season.
The reason? Couldn’t block. Therefore, he couldn’t get on the field. Rodgers, who played wide receiver in college last year, is going to face the same hurdle.
In three seasons with the Packers, Taylor has a total of eight receptions for 45 yards. Are those numbers going to dramatically change this year? No. Taylor was drafted because of his special teams play. He’s hung around because of his special teams play. He’ll probably hang around again for the same reason, but he doesn’t have the tools to make a big impact on the offense.
This guy has a great name. Unfortunately, he went to Ohio State, so he can suck a dick. Stoneburner was an undrafted free agent last year. He started the season on the practice squad and was eventually brought up to the big club after guys started to drop like flies. Stoneburner was a contributor on special teams, but didn’t catch any passes.
He faces an uphill battle to make the roster this season, much like he did last season.
Well, Lyerla is definitely the most interesting guy in the group. His troubles are well documented — multiple suspensions, drugs, left his college team, shitty upbringing, etc. He didn’t get drafted and had to make the Packers training camp roster through a tryout. What’s so intriguing is that Lyerla has all of the physical tools. If he hadn’t of fucked up so badly last year, he would have been one of the top tight ends in this year’s draft.
If Lyerla can keep his head on straight, he has a real chance of making the roster. We don’t expect him to have a shot at being a starter this year and neither should you, but he’s got plenty of upside. And who knows what can happen if he begins to tap his potential.
If the Packers finally decide to re-sign Finley, then he wins. If that doesn’t happen then we like Quarless to be the opening day starter.
The reason is simple. He’s not the most talented guy, but he’s a veteran and he’s assignment-sure. Priority No. 1 this season is not to get Aaron Rodgers killed. Out of these guys, Quarless is the best man for that job.
That being said, we fully expect Quarless’ playing time to erode as the season goes on. Bostick just brings more to the table in the passing game. This should be the season that he gets his shot.
After those two guys, we like Rodgers and Taylor for roster spots. Lyerla is going to have to show something to make the team, but we will be pulling for him.