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Under The Radar: Porter & Quarless

The question I got asked more than any other this past week, whether via email or Twitter, is "Which player is flying under the radar?" More often than not they want to know about the draft picks, especially defensive ends Mike Neal and C.J. Wilson.

It's hard to say much about the guys in the interior of either line. When you can go back and look at film, even television broadcasts, you can tell a lot more than you can watching them live from the ground. There's just way too much going on in such a constricted space it's impossible to see technique, etc. You can see who gets a good push, and there Mike Neal is no slouch. Wilson has been basically invisible, but that doesn't really mean much at this point.

The two players that I think haven't gotten enough ink are both rookies - running back Quinn Porter and tight end Andrew Quarless.

Now, for the record, and Bedard and Carriveau can attest to this, Porter caught my eye earlier this week while I was still in Green Bay. And I started to write this post before this afternoons practice when he busted off an 80 yard touchdown run (which some would say he should have gone down for, seeing as it was a run-the-clock drill with the offense backed-up in its own end with 2 minutes renaming.) Needless to say, I think Porter is the running back fans desperately wanted Tyrell Sutton to be. He has shown good vision when caught up in the wash, seems to have soft hands (he does an excellent job of catching swing passes and screens with his hands and not letting the ball get into his body) and, most importantly in this offense and for a rookie back in particular, he is not afraid to step in against guys twice his size in pass protection. Sure he's raw in that area, but on play in particular, I saw him just blow up Brandon Chillar and another where he stepped up and gave Mike Neal a big-time chip, knocking his fellow rookie off balance before heading out into a pass pattern.

Needless to say, its early, and I need to see him in a game - but I really like Quinn Porter.

As for Quarless, its not so much that he's shown anything spectacular, its more that he has looked much better than I expected. From reading about his troubles in college and how supposedly raw he is, I thought he'd  look much rougher around the edges than he has. Sure he's dropped a pass here and missed an assignment there, but he looked surprisingly adept inline when blocking in the run game, and showed a better-than-expected knack at finding the soft-spot in zone coverage.

Again, its early, and Quarless has Tom Crabtree breathing down his neck. (Seriously, Crabtree shocked me with how well he blocked even just a week into camp. The kid locks on and rarely gets beat) But again, for a guy that is not getting talked about a lot, there's definitely some talent and potential there that fans should look for when the preseason starts.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (21) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Oppy's picture

Aaron,

I love the fact you mentioned Crabtree. As soon as I saw the players mentioned in the title- Porter and Quarless- I immediately knew I had to bring up Crabtree.

I had read that Crabtree has been stonewalling LBs regularly in practices so far, and to hear he's effectively chipping 300lbs guys as well is a bonus.

On Thursday, I saw the icing on the cake: Crabtree can actually catch the ball as well. Sure, he may not be a dynamic weapon like Finley is and Quarless projects to be- but what our TE squad lacks is a true blocking TE, and Crabtree looks to be a guy who brings that element to our corps- without sacrificing the ability to get out, run a route, and catch the ball.

Was happy to see he seems sure-handed and I even saw him make a few not-so-run-of-the-mill catches.

I understand conventional wisdom and sanity says we have to keep Donald Lee on the roster, and Spencer Havner is so utilitarian he is almost guaranteed a spot.. But Crabtree is going to make personnel decisions at TE very tough. I will concede that PackersRS (I think?) made a great point that he's most likely to go unnoticed on our practice squad.. But I think he could end up deserving a spot on the roster.

Jersey Al's picture

Quarless: As a Penn State fan that goes to several games a year, I can tell you a lot about Quarless. He is not terribly "raw". He has excellent p[ass catching skills and his blocking is as good as most tight-ends coming out of college. He definitely has the ability, if he can keep his focus. That was the only issue for him. He burst onto the PSU scene as a rookie, and let success get to his head and too involved in partying. His middle two years were huge disappointments, but he got back on track as a Senior. This is one reason why I really think the Packers keep 4 tight ends (w/ Crabtree on the PS).

As for Porter. He is eons above Tyrell Sutton, that so many made such a big deal about last year. As you state, he is the type of dynamic player Packer fans crave as a change of pace at RB. If he can just catch punts and/or kickoffs, he could be good enough to make this team. If you missed it, a few weeks ago, I profiled Porter here:
http://www.jerseyal.com/GBP/2010/07/21/packers-undrafted-free-agent-runn...

Oppy's picture

Jersey Al,

Obviously, Starks is now at a major disadvantage being behind in camp with his hammy injury, compounded by Quinn Porter's very solid showing in camp thus far.

I'm assuming you are somewhat more aware of Starks football career than most of us just due to proximity. In your opinion- and this is based purely on potential and talent- is Porter the more attractive prospect compared to Starks? Would Starks still have an uphill battle against Porter if he had been healthy for camp and not lost time and reps, or would Porter have been the guy scratching for a spot at this point in camp?

I know it's all speculative, but interested to get your input regardless.
My perspective is while Starks lost season due to injury made him a hands-off guy for most teams to draft, his undeniable production and skills as a collegiate RB would make him a worthwhile gamble for any team looking to upgrade a #3 RB spot if he were to become available to steal off of a practice squad.. I don't think he can be hidden there, I don't know about Porter.

Jersey Al's picture

Yeah, I don't think either one of these guys would survive the Practice Squad. I don't know a lot about Starks, since he didn't play senior year and I don't usually see any Buffalo game. So all I know of him is what I've read and seen on tape. He's a guy I want to see kept and developed. Like a Ryan Grant with possibly more potential upside.

NYPacker's picture

The key word here is "versatility." Did you guys know that Quinn Porter also played Punter? hehehe I'm just saying...

Jersey Al's picture

Porter was the starting punter soph & junior years (35 yd avg), but not only that, he was 2 for 2 on passes thrown for over 50 yds each and 1 TD.

retiredgrampa's picture

Rock and hard place....Not good enough for active 53 but lost if put on PS. We seem to be looking at more than a few such instances this year. Totally new scenerio for the Packers. It seems to me that given our situation, we need to go with one FB (Johnson) and 4 TEs (for blocking and receiving.) 4 RBs (with Porter) If Shields can't learn to hang onto the ball, Porter can do it.

cow42's picture

never thought of going with 1 FB but that might actually happen.

i think lee's gone...he's not as good a receiver as quarless and finley, & he's not as versatile as havner. if crabtree is in the same ballpark as lee when it comes to blocking - why would they keep the guy who they'd have to pay $2 mil?

nerdmann's picture

This could very well come down to injuries. If any of the TEs get injured, they'll get stashed. I bet Starks might even get PUP'd. In case one of the RBs goes down.
This is a good type of problem to have. To many guys. We can't keep them all. Beats having to decide between Lee Morris and Aubrey Mathews. LOL.

Tarynfor12's picture

I think the Pack need to keep 2FB(Johnson and Kuhn) and 3TE's(Finley,Havner,Quarles) and Crabtree on P/S.Lee is traded and most just won't accept it yet.

Porter is showing the ability,but Starks(watch when he hits the field) is going to be the #2 with Grant.Porter makes things tough as in B Jackson.Yes he can block but the Pack(according to some)have Havner who can go H-back for blocking and able to swing out which makes a case for Porter easier.Possible Jackson and Lee are traded.

The FB situation 1or2(Johnson and Kuhn or 1 traded) will play out down the road depending on the TE blocking skill of Quarless and Havner or Crabtree when the time or injury dictates.

No one shouls worry about Shields doing returns,that will be Starks job.How about Porter and Starks ,that can be scary.

CSS's picture

I'm all for Starks joining camp and setting the world on fire, but don't you think elevating a guy to #2 running back is a bit of a stretch considering he hasn't been healthy since the middle of 2008? Yes, he's athletic but this is the exact reason he was passed over, frequently, by every team in the draft until round 6.

Here's to hoping, but that level of optimism is unjustified until he's capable of getting on the field. Uphill battle for any rookie running back let-alone one that looks to miss most of camp.

Tarynfor12's picture

Overly optimistic,maybe.I just have a deep feel that a decision has been made on Starks and letting the UDFA as Porter get time.When he hits the field in camp and he will,the question will be Who's Porter?

As for being passed in the draft,let's not forget that RB's are a dime a dozen and over all value is in decline.Teams that drafted RB's were in dire need of one and we (ahem) weren't so some say.If Starks was out of practice due to SHOULDER injury I may agree,but a hammy is epidemic in football.

There will be teams scratching their heads when they see what he brings.But for all those with a Missouri approach...when you see,you will believe!

cow42's picture

why all the starks love?
where does your optimism come from?

Tarynfor12's picture

Watch some of his game tape without the bias of knowing he gets a shoulder injury and opts to sit his senor year based on conversation with his coaches,even though he was already thought to be a top 10-15 up to that point already before the senor year.

He has alot of tangibles,good speed,vision,power,north-south runner with some wiggle,can return,played QB some so he can throw(like Porter) and he has very good hands(catching)out of backfield.

Possible that he plays senor year and is still a top 10 or hurts the shoulder playing to soon and never plays again.The confidence he showed by knowing he'll drop in draft by not playing, and I give Edgar Bennett some respect for seeing talent.

Just for the record,I had him picked as the sleeper the Packers would take back in Feb-Mar as posted on the GB Draft Conversations chat room.If you happen upon a blogger named SUPERGENIOUS007 ask him as we butted heads on this and I won.

CSS's picture

Would love to see how you managed to get ahold of 'tape' on Starks considering only 3 Buffalo games were nationally televised in 08' and Starks missed 4 or 5 games that year due to a knee injury and, of course, all of 09' due to his shoulder.

Also, if you're saying he was top 10-15 at his position when projected during the 08' season I would concur. If you're saying top 10-15 overall, no way. He was facing MAC defenses (or the lack thereof).

His biggest obstacle once he gets on the field will be his inexperience and weakness blocking. You don't crack the Packers depth chart if you can't block out of the backfield. This was/is a huge weakness for Starks.

northnsouth's picture

I think Starcks' height will work against him, especially with his injury history. Short, bowlegged pinball types seem to be more productive and durable. I don't recall any successful, taller return guys. Can you think of any?

Tarynfor12's picture

A benefit of having 2 brothers in their late 50's who along with their Colledge buddies and their sons have a unique filming advantage and contacts with alumni on the east coast,Penn St,Maryland,Rutgers,Buf,etc.I get to go home every Jan and can watch film.But my player recommendations come from those guys and I watch it.Simple
They know I'm aPacker fan and will give me insight on some positions they feel the Pack may want.

Oppy's picture

That's jumping through a lot of hoops.

I just google "James Starks Highlights" and I get to watch a bunch of film, too.

And I don't even have to take a flight or call in favors.

CSS's picture

Well, it's almost clarvoyant to have someone videotape what is historically a god-aweful Buffalo team because you have a feeling about Starks way back in 07' and part of 08'. He missed almost half the 08' season with a knee injury.

I never like YouTube because you tend to get only the highlights (i.e. - they're highlights because it were a great play). I'm more interested in seeing what they do away from the ball, blocking, route running, adjusting when the QB is under duress, etc..

Oh well, hope he gets healthy.

pitts's picture

its only training camp. how can you judge a player in camp hes a 1rd 3rd 8rd remember there only playing against them selves in camp not much game action you can have a 4.20 sp or 4.5 sp to some it does not mean much.or you cant catch in drills so your no good.

CSS's picture

The coaching staff tape every practice, every scrimmage in high-def and scrutinize the film daily. They conduct adjustment periods and do walk-throughs based on the previous days tape. They do judge the players in practice and need to be accurate in those judgements to cut 26 fairly talented guys. Happens every camp and every play in practice can make or break a fringe prospect, especially undrafted free agents.

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