The Green Bay Packers are stacked with talent on the offensive side of the ball. Heading into the season, there are only two starting positions in question, and one of them being tight end.
It remains to be seen whether Green Bay will bring back incumbent starter Jermichael Finley following last year’s serious neck injury, but whoever plays the position will produce in a big way in 2014. This production could come from one guy, although nobody has emerged as the clear-cut starter as of now, or it could be done by committee.
Even without Finley, the Packers have a number of players they could plug in at the position. If one player does separate himself from the pack towards the end of the preseason, Head Coach Mike McCarthy will still utilize a number of guys because of the way tight ends are used in his offense.
Right now Andrew Quarless appears to be the favorite to start Week 1, which is understandable as he enters the season with by far the most career snaps at 1,456 – more than four times as many as any other player at the position. However, McCarthy has been impressed with the pass-catching abilities of rookie third round pick Richard Rodgers and if he can catch the football he could quickly become a go-to target for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Whoever ends up playing tight end the majority of the season, whether it be Quarless, Rodgers, or even Brandon Bostick, the Packers should be able to get nearly the same production from the tight end position as they did when Finley was playing. While Finley was supremely talented, he did have a tendency to drop his share of balls, so Rodgers’ good hands could mean an upgrade in some respects.
As I explained in an earlier article, the Packers could have a record-breaking offense in 2014. They plan to run a lot of plays and with weapons like Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and Eddie Lacy, the tight end position shouldn’t garner too much attention from defenses regardless of who’s playing. This means a lot of one-on-one matchups and a lot of opportunities to catch balls from one of the league’s best quarterbacks. Overall, I expect about 600-700 yards receiving and a handful of touchdowns from the tight ends as a group in 2014.