Packers Hope Sternberger Is the Answer at Tight End

The Packers are hopeful they have found the answer at tight end in Jace Sternberger. 

He’s far from a sure thing, but Green Bay Packers tight end Jace Sternberger is a player to be excited about entering the 2020 season. We saw flashes at the end of last year when Sternberger caught a touchdown in the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers. The 2019 third-round draft pick looked like he belonged, and now he has a chance to be “the guy” next season.

It’s a lot riding on a guy whose rookie season was limited to six games due to injury. First, it was a concussion during a joint practice with the Houston Texans and then an ankle injury that landed him on injured reserve before the start of the regular season. Needless to say, Sternberger didn’t get a chance to do much of anything until the very end of year one. However, that hasn’t diminished any of the excitement held by Brian Gutekunst or Matt LaFleur as both believe they have their tight end of the future.

The former Texas A&M prospect had only one year of legitimate college production, but it was enough to catch the Packers’ eye. His athleticism is a great fit for LaFleur’s offense and is much more in-line with what the team has wanted to pair with quarterback Aaron Rodgers in recent years. While the most recent starter Jimmy Graham is a shell of his former self, Sternberger is a smooth runner, with loose hips, and the size and toughness to not shy away in the run game.

The potential might be evident to some, however, the Packers are taking a huge risk in relying on Sternberger to carry the load in year two. Cutting Graham loose was clearly justified, but the team brought back Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan rather than go the free-agent route. It wasn’t until the draft that Green Bay added a new face in Josiah Deguara who, like Sternberger, was also a third-round pick. Deguara could get some reps at tight end, but his best fit will probably be at h-back and other versatile positions.

Most likely, it will be Sternberger and Lewis receiving a bulk of the reps. Lewis, now 36, is not the player he once was but offers something as a run blocker and the occasional pass catcher. Meanwhile, Tonyan remains a hopeful prospect, but he has little to show in two seasons with the Packers.

Green Bay was able to skate by with relatively average tight end play last year, but they hope Sternberger is ready to elevate that spot now that he finds himself in a larger role. If he can stretch the field, and be a factor in the run game, while also being consistent week in and week out, the Packers will get more out of the tight end position than they have in years. 

 

 

 

Brandon Carwile is a Packers writer who also enjoys watching and breaking down film. Follow him on Twitter @PackerScribe.

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Comments (5)

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Bure9620's picture

July 27, 2020 at 07:20 am

Like I said previously, Sternberger was borderline dominant at times in college, also with very average QB play. He can attack the seam, hope he pans out

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Handsback's picture

July 27, 2020 at 07:34 am

If not this year...next year for sure. The kid can play and his weakness of blocking was much improved.

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stockholder's picture

July 27, 2020 at 08:04 am

Gutey signed Graham at 10 mil. Sterberger can smell the money. He'll be the answer!

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nostradanus's picture

July 27, 2020 at 10:07 am

Sternberger showed last season that he plays with an attitude and is a willing blocker.
While many thought he was just a big WR he has shown in a small sample size that he can be more than that.
Bring it on Jace, it has been way too long since the Packers had a real weapon at TE!

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

July 31, 2020 at 08:40 am

Going into last year's draft, I had Sternberger as my number 3 TE, and I believe he can be a very effective starter. However, I'm also intrigued by Josiah Deguara and John Lovett. Both are Swiss Army knives with the "guys you win with" feel. Lafleur is clearly really into the "illusion of complexity" approach: have a roster of guys who can do "everything." He seems to be moving away from the traditional "role player" approach to rosters. I realized that when they leaned into receivers who can block over guys with pure speed. It's almost like he wants the QBs, RBs, TEs, and WRs all to be 6'3" and 230 pounds.
It's interesting, we'll see if it works.

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