The recent release of the depth chart on the Packers’ official website has been met with heavy reaction from fans and media.
But the bloggers aren’t alone. Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette felt compelled to point out Quarless’ position on the depth chart.
Even Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel suggested Quarless could be fighting for so much as a roster spot this season. “The Packers probably didn’t draft Arkansas’ D.J. Williams and North Carolina’s Ryan Taylor to release them,” writes Dunne. “Unless general manager Ted Thompson decides to keep five tight ends, one roster spot could boil down to Quarless, Tom Crabtree and Spencer Havner.”
I’m beyond surprised at the reaction to Quarless.
Yes, he missed the first four practices of this year’s training camp when he couldn’t participate because of a hip flexor issue, but that shouldn’t be enough to warrant a lower spot on the totem pole. He’s been back for the last five practices since that time.
I think perhaps people would rather see guys like Tom Crabtree and D.J. Williams climb up the depth chart and Quarless fall because of their divergent personalities and backgrounds, even if it’s a subconscious feeling on behalf of the general populace.
Out of the thousands of players in the NFL, Crabtree at one point topped ESPN’s Twindex rankings for his engaging persona and willingness to interact with his fanbase on Twitter.
Williams, whose story overcoming childhood abuse has made him an incredibly easy person to root for, is similar to Crabtree in that regard.
People also like pulling for the underdog, which is what rookie Ryan Taylor is as a seventh-round draft choice.
They all stand in contrast to Quarless, who had “God’s Gift” tatooed on his arms. Quarless has attempted to rationalize his choice the message as a misunderstanding and has since added an “S” to make it “God’s Gifts.”
In college he was arrested for underage drinking, a DUI and associated with roommates that were found to have marijuana in his apartment (all detailed in today’s article on Quarless by Dunne).
Since becoming a professional football player, however, he’s at least stayed out of the police blotter. And if he’s a locker room cancer, I’ve yet to see any of those reports.
Furthermore, Quarless had an average rookie campaign last season that saw him tally 21 catches for 238 yards and one touchdown.
I think sometimes people have unrealistic expectations of rookies in the NFL. Those that become Pro Bowlers in their first seasons get tons of media attention, but they’re the exception and not the rule. Those that start as rookies are in the minority.
The overwhelming majority of rookies are role players league wide. Personally, I don’t have high expectations for any rookie in the NFL, even first round draft choices in that first year. I know rookies can develop into very exceptional performers with a little seasoning and experience.
One doesn’t have to go back very far to remember fellow tight end Jermichael Finely had all of six catches his rookie year and is now considered one of the top talents in the game.
I’m not saying Quarless is going to be the next Finley. Maybe it will even turn out that once preseason action starts, Quarless will look pitifully out of his league.
But at this point in time, when a preseason game has yet to even be played, I’m not sure why people are surprised Quarless is listed as the second-string tight end or questionable to make the 53-man roster. Let’s see him in a game environment first and give the man the benefit of the doubt.