To prepare for training camp, we will be breaking down every player on the Green Bay Packers' 90-man roster in more detail, looking at contract terms and 2013 statistics, before we make our prediction for which players will make the 53-man roster at the end of training camp.
With the career-threatening injury to Jermichael Finley during the 2013 season, the Packers are preparing for a world without Finley as their playmaking, field-stretching, "on the cusp of the Pro Bowl" caliber tight end. As far as who will step into a starting role, that seems to be Andrew Quarless' job to lose. Any playing time after that is a wide open competition between three young returning players, a third-round draft selection, and two undrafted free agent additions.
Projected Starter: Andrew Quarless
Andrew Quarless started at tight end for the remainder of the season after the loss of Finley, and was inconsistent for the majority of those starts. He had trouble run blocking against bigger defensive ends, and his footwork wasn't always as sharp as you'd like your starting tight end to be.
Quarless did display flashes of athletic ability as a pass-catcher, and quickly became one of Matt Flynn's favorite targets (as most tight ends are to back-up quarterbacks). The only players I could see challenging Quarless for the starting spot are Brandon Bostick or Richard Rodgers, but I can't see either making enough plays during training camp and the preseason to steal the job outright.
Projected Back-Ups: Richard Rodgers, Colt Lyerla
By all accounts, Richard Rodgers (Can I call him Rich-Rod yet?) has been outstanding during rookie camp and OTAs this offseason. I know it's always best to wait and see how the players look once the pads are on and the hitting starts, but the fact that he has hit the ground running is a promising sign for someone who was labeled a "tweener" by most scouts. The more reps he gets in now, the better the chance of him making an immediate impact on this year's team.
Colt Lyerla was probably the biggest post-draft news for the Packers, and for good reason. The tight end from Oregon has all the talent to be a starting tight end at the NFL level, but a quick google search on him will give more than enough reasons to doubt he can stay out of trouble. Still, we predict that he will stay quiet and make the 53-man roster.
Projected to be Cut: Ryan Taylor, Jake Stoneburner, Brandon Bostick, Justin Perillo
I don't personally agree with this, but we project Ryan Taylor, Jake Stoneburner, Brandon Bostick, and Justin Perillo to be released or cut by the time the 53-man roster takes shape. I believe Brandon Bostick will do enough to make the 53-man roster, but his foot injury at the end of last season has put him in a bit of a hole. I think he has shown enough promise that the staff will likely keep him around, but that wasn't the consensus among the APC writers.
Ryan Taylor and Jake Stoneburner didn't do enough last season to stick out when the opportunity was available, and now with a full group of young talent around them, they may not even get a chance to prove themselves in the preseason.
Justin Perillo is an awesome underdog story, and it would be great to see the staff give him a shot at the practice squad, but we don't like his chances considering the amount of reps that will be taken up by the players in front of him.