Packers Help Wanted: Dynamic Tight End

A game-breaking tight end could change the Packers offense dramatically.

During Aaron Rodgers’ tenure with the Green Bay Packers, the one piece that the star quarterback has lacked in his offense most seasons is a dynamic, playmaking tight end.  Early in Rodgers’ career, Jermichael Finley had all the makings of a stud tight end, but his career was cut short due to a devastating spinal cord injury from a blow during a week seven game in 2013.  Other than Finley, Green Bay’s tight ends have been a group of average guys, with no tight end even sniffing the top 10 year-end receiving statistics for the position.  It is arguable that the Packers offenses under Rodgers saw their best years with Finley as a threat in the middle of the field.

Below is a list of tight end receiving statistics during the Rodgers era in Green Bay.  It is pretty easy to see that other than Finley, the position has left a lot to be desired from the quarterback’s point of view.

Some of those names bring back vivid memories, some good and one particularly bad.  Heading into 2017, I was probably the lead conductor on the Martellus Bennett hype train.  Thinking he had all the tools to revamp the position in the offense, how his situation played out in Green Bay was disappointing, to say the least.  Then, looking back on 2016, the Packers offense was a completely different beast with Jared Cook in the lineup stretching defenses.  Other than Finley, a year with Cook and a disappointing Bennett, the other names on that list are just guys putting up low numbers.

A game-breaking tight end can do wonders for an offense and thinking what one could do for the 2018 Packers offense is an exciting proposition.  To start, a dynamic tight end creates match-up nightmares for opposing defenses.  With the weapons that the Packers possess in other parts of their offense, adding a stud tight end would give defensive coordinators around the league nightmares.  Defenses struggle against the likes of Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce because of their size and speed in the middle of the field.  Linebackers struggle to keep up with them and defensive backs can’t effectively defend balls thrown up to them.

The second benefit a dynamic tight end brings to an offense is the ability to open up the playmaking ability for the other players in the offense around them.  Great tight ends often command attention from multiple defenders, including safeties, which opens the field up more for the likes of Adams, Nelson, Cobb and Montgomery.  Aaron is salivating just thinking about what could be.

Around the NFL over the past few seasons, the top tight ends statistically are found on teams that reach the playoffs most of the time.

In a quick look here, the Patriots offense is obviously a different animal with Gronkowski in the lineup.  Greg Olsen’s presence in Carolina changes the success of Cam Newton and their offense dramatically.  And where would Kansas City have been the last two years without Kelce in their lineup?  For the names on the list of the top five in yards each year that weren’t on a playoff team, the argument can be made that each was the primary threat in that offense in that given year.  The Packers don’t need the tight end position to be the top threat, but indeed they need the threat to be existent in their offense.

But, will the Packers make this a priority during this offseason and, if so, how do they get there?  To start with the current roster, we all know who Richard Rodgers is.  He possesses good hands and is a reliable option for Aaron, but a threat to stretch defenses he is not.  Emanuel Byrd and Robert Tonyan are young tight ends who probably don’t possess the tools to be threats.  That leaves the curious case of Lance Kendricks, who was brought in along with Martellus Bennett during the last offseason.  While he possesses a large frame and a 4.5 40 yard time, his career just doesn’t have the numbers to show he can be that threat for the Packers.  Prior to joining the Packers, during his career with the Rams, Kendricks never surpassed more than 50 receptions in a season and only eclipsed 500 yards in a season once.  Though, some would argue that his lack consistent quarterbacking with the Rams may have had an effect on those numbers.

The fate of the tight end position moving forward ultimately lies in the hands of Brian Gutekunst.  The first question that must be answered by the GM is if the number one tight end currently sits on the roster.  If that answer is a no, then where to turn for the future is the next question in line to be answered.  As my fellow colleagues here at CheeseheadTV have recently written about, a few free agent options may be available in Jimmy Graham, Trey Burton or Tyler Eifert.  If that isn’t the route the Packers choose to go, there will be potential playmakers at tight end available in the draft in Dallas Goedert, Mark Andrews and Troy Fumagalli among others.

Make no mistake about it, the Packers offense can change drastically moving forward if the team is able to find a dynamic, playmaking tight end for their future.  If and how they do that remains to be seen.

________________________

Ryan Brunner is an avid Packers fan hailing from Chippewa Falls, WI.  He is a firm believer that punters are NFL players too!  Follow him on Twitter @brunwardo

NFL Categories: 
0 points

Comments (44)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
dobber's picture

January 31, 2018 at 07:10 am

The question I pose is this: would the Packers know what to do with a good TE if they had one?

"Then, looking back on 2016, the Packers offense was a completely different beast with Jared Cook in the lineup stretching defenses. "

How many WR player-games were lost to injury in 2016 toward the end of the season...and in the playoffs?

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
nostradanus's picture

January 31, 2018 at 07:30 am

The Packers have this kid Robert Tonyan quietly stashed on their roster. Check his highlights out on youtube, he played for Indiana State, let's get the Tonyan Train rolling for 2018!
This kid makes crazy great catches and looks like he has the tools!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Razer's picture

January 31, 2018 at 08:24 am

Yeah, I like this kid. At 6'5" he has the size and he can move. Hopefully, the coaches can help elevate his game and get him into the offense.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
dobber's picture

January 31, 2018 at 08:49 am

Here's his nfl.com review:

http://www.nfl.com/draft/2017/profiles/robert-tonyan?id=2558793

He's still essentially a WR until he can block in-line to some degree, but this is a good time to work on projects.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
The TKstinator's picture

February 02, 2018 at 06:55 am

He could do a Chmura: thin receiving tight end in college, live in the weight room a couple years, emerge as a good receiving and at least capable blocking tight end. And this guy is faster than 89 ever was. He’s got a chance.
Not EVERY player can be an early round draft choice or high profile FA. All teams NEED guys like this to emerge.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Handsback's picture

January 31, 2018 at 07:45 am

This is the weakest position that the Packers have on their roster, IMHO. Rodgers needs to be resigned just to add bodies to the mix. I guess I'm one of the few that thinks Kendricks can add some spark to the position, but they need another guy that's starter quality.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
dobber's picture

January 31, 2018 at 08:42 am

I would argue that OLB is the weakest position on the roster because the offense has demonstrated that it can function (with starting personnel) at a high level without a high-end TE. The defense? Not-so-much without better OLB play. I think the role dictates, in part, the strength--or maybe better put, the need for strength--at a given position.

I had high hopes for Kendricks, too. I was jumping up and down last spring saying he would be the guy and not Bennett who would ultimately give us big plays at TE....ooops.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
RCPackerFan's picture

January 31, 2018 at 07:56 am

The Packers offense was at its best when Finley and Cook were stretching the field. If they can add a dynamic type of TE that can stretch the field, that would really help open up the offense.

Most TE's don't come in from college and dominate right away. But I wouldn't shy away from taking one. The guy I'd love to see in GB is Fumagalli. I believe he will likely be a 3-4th round pick. He could do really well in GB's offense. He is in the Zach Ertz mold of TE's and I think he could be really good in the pro's.

As far as FA's to be for TE's, one guy I would love to see GB go after is Austin Seferian-Jenkins. While he has had some off field problems, he has acknowledged he had a drinking problem and has sought out help. If he has gotten his off field self in check he has the skills to be really good. He could be great with Rodgers as well. A lot of people say that coming to GB changed their lives. He could be the next in line.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
dobber's picture

January 31, 2018 at 08:42 am

I don't see Wisconsin as a place you go to stay sober...

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Colin_C's picture

January 31, 2018 at 08:55 am

Well played dobber, well played...

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
RCPackerFan's picture

January 31, 2018 at 09:50 am

lol, no lies, i thought that same thing.

But there aren't as many distractions in GB as there is in other NFL cities. Why a lot of players say coming to GB really did change them.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Colin_C's picture

January 31, 2018 at 09:04 am

Agreed RC. Fumagalli in the fourth would be great value. I could see us taking our RB approach from last year and drafting 2-3 TE's in the later rounds. This year's TE class doesn't seem to have any hyped-up superstars, but a lot of decent mid-round guys, which is good for us.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
dobber's picture

January 31, 2018 at 09:07 am

If Fumigalli runs well at the Combine, it will likely push him up into day 2 of the draft, if he's not already there. He's a good multi-purpose TE...you've gotta block some at UW. I've read some scout services that project his 40-time in the 4.8 range. If he runs under 4.7? Look out.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
RCPackerFan's picture

January 31, 2018 at 09:53 am

Completely agree. I definitely can see him going in the 3rd round area of the draft.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if they drafted a couple of TE's. One of which maybe from a smaller school, but with more athletic upside. Assuming they keep their 4 compensation picks they could definitely use those them for filling the TE need.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Razer's picture

January 31, 2018 at 08:16 am

I can't believe that our Richard Rodgers had 55 catches, over 500 yards and 8 TDs in 2015. If someone could teach him how to block, he could actually be a good option. He is horrible at the line and doesn't seem to have a killer instinct.

Given that McCarthy's and Rodger's offense is a vertical game, I wouldn't waste a ton of money on a TE. We would get more value with a WR. I am not sure if this is chicken or egg, but, until McCarthy figures out how to use a TE, there is no point in wasting draft capital on a blocker.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
dobber's picture

January 31, 2018 at 09:14 am

I think the TE has to be a threat to block someone. Otherwise we get what we see MM do, which is put Ulrick John or some other scrub OT in-line as a "TE", and telegraph to the defense what the play call is likely to be.

I actually think Richard Rodgers is not that bad as a #2 or (especially) #3 TE. He gets a lot of crap, mostly because TT burned a premium pick on him, but he's a decent check-down/move-the-sticks TE...but by splitting him out, are you taking a better player off the field?

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
zoellner25's picture

January 31, 2018 at 09:22 am

Can't they just play Michael Clark at TE? Maybe not as a blocker but he run all the routes

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
EdsLaces's picture

January 31, 2018 at 09:36 am

Kid from Penn State please...

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
worztik's picture

January 31, 2018 at 09:53 am

I remember the days of Marv Fleming and Paul Coffman and Mark (Chewy) Chumura as the good old days!!!! Keith Jackson, too!!!! I forget who else...

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Doug Niemczynski's picture

January 31, 2018 at 03:17 pm

Ed West

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
worztik's picture

January 31, 2018 at 03:53 pm

Yes... Mr. West was a good one!!!!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
The TKstinator's picture

January 31, 2018 at 05:30 pm

The Toolbox.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
stockholder's picture

January 31, 2018 at 10:34 am

None please. Jermichael Finley= Natural receiver with soft hands to pluck passes out of the air. ... Rare body control for a player his size. ... Can contort in the air to adjust to the poorly thrown pass. ... Good leaping ability and can high-point the pass. ... Competes well for the ball. ... Good acceleration and top end speed for the position. ... Can make defenders miss and generate positive yardage after the catch. ... Improving blocker. ... Good physicality at the point of attack. ... Good hand placement. Jared Cook - STRENGTHS Positives: Rare athlete. Reportedly ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash and posted a 39.5-inch vertical leap in 2007. Long, lanky build capable of handling additional mass without a significant loss of quickness.etc. Didn't add Bennett, but taken before Finley. See the difference? It's the HIPS and Jumping ability that stand out. TT really blew it when Cook was let go. Richard Rodgers is to stiff in the hips etc. It's not just catching the ball. Save the choice and use it for a WR first.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Point-Packer's picture

January 31, 2018 at 10:58 am

GB had the tight end it desired in Cook. Cook wanted to be in GB. He was finally playing with a real QB. He was motivated.

Bennett. Horrible fit for GB. No motivation. Didn’t want to be in GB. No desire to win or get paid.

TT blew it. Despite all the “how would one have known MB wasn’t going to work out?” bluster, it really wasn’t that hard to predict.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Spud Rapids's picture

January 31, 2018 at 11:26 am

TT offered Cook what they offered Bennett but Cook turned it down and got less in Oakland. Everyone was happy Bennett was signed and few predicted it was a bust. Your comment in the article below even called out Cook for being an idiot.

https://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/packers-shock-the-nfl-sign-martellus-bennett

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Duke Divine's picture

January 31, 2018 at 11:31 am

He didn't say that..FAke news. someone got a hold of his login info. When caught in it just say it didn't happen...Seems to be the way things work these days..

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
stockholder's picture

January 31, 2018 at 11:45 am

Cook should have fired his agent. Bennet was drafted before Finley. But his problems were never exposed on why he left teams. Stats were Shown instead. Unlike Cook when signed by the packers. The packers had to know the numbers offered to cook before they balked. Still Cook was loved by the fans. The trouble is Love can be blind. With the front office changes that happened since. Idiots on all sides are exposed.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
flackcatcher's picture

January 31, 2018 at 10:00 pm

There are questions on who made the final call on Cook. Many at 1265 say TT was overruled by Murphy who sided with Russ Ball. Still, at the time it was a pretty clear call thanks to Cook's agent. Idiots. Couldn't put it any better myself.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Point-Packer's picture

January 31, 2018 at 12:13 pm

I actually used the scientific term: "tard". You have a far greater memory and oodles more patience than I.

Cook may have been an idiot for not coming back to GB, but TT could have got him if he wanted him. Instead, he went for Bennett, who was a massive massive bust.

Regardless, TE position needs to be fixed. If GB goes into 2018 with the status quo, we'll see 20 more Richie Rodgers 1.5 yard gain out patterns from the TE position.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
The TKstinator's picture

January 31, 2018 at 05:45 pm

If RR can gain 1.5 yards on each reception, all he would need is 7 consecutive catches for a big FIRST DOWN!
Ball control, baby!! Woody Hayes!
1.5 yards and a cloud of dust!
(I guess that would be HALF a Woody Hayes.)

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Oppy's picture

January 31, 2018 at 04:49 pm

Cook SAID he wanted to be in GB.

His agent abruptly made a PR announcement- like, direct to the press- that they were no longer going to negotiate with GB.

Literally within hours, the Packers signed Bennet to a deal that was reportedly about the same as what was on the table for Cook when his agent tried to make a power play.

Do the actions line up with the words?

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
4thand1's picture

January 31, 2018 at 11:44 am

When the Packers let Cook go I was pissed. Then they signed Bennett and I was pumped. I thought it was an upgrade like a lot of people also thought , it wasn't. This move by TT was totally against the grain for him. He had been on a lot of teams and wore out his welcome. What's frustrating is, we had a younger guy who wanted to play and let him walk. Now we need a TE and have to spend a pick, or maybe big money FA.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Finwiz's picture

January 31, 2018 at 11:50 am

So on another subject, and off topic, who's this David Nicholson all over the twitter feed last night?
And what did ANY of his comments have to do with sports?
The guy comes across as a totally clueless moron, and it offends me to have to read his stupidity on a Packer site.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Ryan Graham's picture

January 31, 2018 at 12:16 pm

I would prefer to see BG address TE in free agency. Jimmy Graham is a stud obviously, Trey Burton has flashed, Eifert might be an option with Burton as an insurance policy. ASJ could be a low risk high reward guy too...the way I see it BG has an opportunity to invest a number of picks in moving up the way they had with BJ Raji and Matthews in 09.

Either way, the comp picks and cap space give him and the staff a lot of opportunity, particularly this offseason, to continue to build the defense with higher end talent than what they normally have available in the draft and some money to work with. Especially if they extend and lower the salaries of Nelson, Cobb and Mattews.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Nick Perry's picture

February 01, 2018 at 04:48 am

I think Burton would be an excellent addition to the Packers. But what it will cost to sign him might be to much.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Ryan Graham's picture

February 01, 2018 at 10:41 am

They could outbid for Cameron Brate...also not a bad option. sign Cameron Brate and draft a guy in the 4th or 5th with a comp pick might be the move

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Tundraboy's picture

January 31, 2018 at 03:44 pm

We absolutely need a tight end. I don't know, it's probably been since 2012-13 with Seattle, when Finley was on the roster and MM knew how to use him then,even with all the drops. Need a TE that is considered a real threat. Without one, it is one less player to cover,and an extra defender on someone else. Just another weapon and I don't want to be sitting here having a discussion 5 - 7 years from now discussing if only we got Rogers x y and Z

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
MarkAlan's picture

January 31, 2018 at 03:18 pm

They need two tight ends

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Tundraboy's picture

January 31, 2018 at 03:45 pm

Yes we do but I'd be thrilled with one very good one, and a draft pick with real upside.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
worztik's picture

January 31, 2018 at 03:53 pm

Or “3”...

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
The TKstinator's picture

January 31, 2018 at 05:49 pm

Withdrawn.
Redacted.
Deleted.
Gone.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Oppy's picture

January 31, 2018 at 04:55 pm

People either don't know or like to forget that Cook is the guy who stepped away from the bargaining table, not Green Bay.

Cook, through his representation, told the public he was done negotiating with the Packers.

I would have like to see Cook stay in GB, but I 100% commend the Packers in drawing a line in the sand with a player whose agent goes to the media and tries to make a power play like that. It sets a horrible precedent that can't be taken back if you yield to those tactics.

Unfortunate that Bennet didn't work out. I thought they hit it out of the park. Not so much. Wonder if it was attitude, lack of chemistry, or maybe he really was injured all year.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Charlu19's picture

February 01, 2018 at 02:38 am

An intimidating threat that can run from the line is always a mismatch. Give #12 a player 70% of Gronk/Kelce with Jones in the backfield??? Have fun, Mike Zimmer.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Cartwright's picture

February 01, 2018 at 05:56 am

They should back up the truck and go get this kid Burton, he's still young and has shown he has all the tools. All he needs is an opportunity to be the starter. We need to take chances in free agency. The only chance I see would be in overpaying the guy but it would be a chance well worth taking. We really have no one of merit at the position. If we get back the bonus the beat Martellus Bennett skated off with that might make the difference in out bidding all others.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.