Earlier today, we took a deeper look into the unproven talent that resides in the Packers' tight end group. With no proven player at the No. 2 spot behind the inconsistent Jermichael Finley, playing time is available, but who will reap the benefits of their opportunity?
In case you haven't already heard, we had five writers submit their full roster predictions, complete with projected starters and backups. We took the number of players at each position that were chosen most frequently, and the individual players who were put on the roster most often. The starter at tight end was a no-brainer, and according to us, the writers at APC, the playing group is also unanimous. The only thing we didn't all agree on was who would get the majority of snaps at the No. 2 spot.
Tight Ends on the 53-man Roster: Four
Projected Starter: Jermichael Finley
Finley wins by unanimous decision. His flashes of brilliance are only outweighed by his head-scratching drops, but we believe he is by far and away the leader at the tight end position. The 2013 season will be a defining season for #88, and we can only hope that it provides plenty of strange celebrations and less agents tweeting about team leadership.
Projected Back-ups: Andrew Quarless, Matthew Mulligan, D.J. Williams
All five writers agreed upon Andrew Quarless being in the playing group at tight end, while only one writer believes Matthew Mulligan will not make the team (It wasn't me, I promise). D.J. Williams appears in the majority of the roster predictions to round out a playing group of four tight ends on the 53-man roster.
Quarless appears to be the favorite to earn the back-up spot behind Finley, which would be impressive considering his long layoff. A healthy Quarless would allow Finley to be used more exclusively as a pass-catching threat, while Quarless could take on the role of a traditional tight end.
Mulligan will likely be used much like Tom Crabtree was used within the Packers offense in years past; a run-blocker by nature, who occasionally went out into the flats as a safety valve for Aaron Rodgers. He appears to be a solid free agent addition, which should help kick-start a new and improved running game that the Packers desire in 2013.
Williams appears in three of the five roster predictions, and will likely be in the playing group due to his special teams abilities alone. Whether or not Williams will see meaningful time at tight end is still up in the air. He will have to out-perform Mulligan and Quarless during training camp and preseason to achieve that role, but don't count out the Mackey Award winner yet. He has the potential to become a play-maker within the Packers offense, and 2013 might be his break-out year.
Left off the Roster: Jake Stoneburner, Ryan Taylor, Brandon Bostick
Stoneburner had an impressive college career at Ohio State University and has the tools to become an NFL starter. He may need another year or two of development to get there, but he's certainly one of the players we considered for a spot on the practice squad.
Fighting for a practice squad role with Jake Stoneburner during training camp and preseason play will be Bostick, and his year of experience could be beneficial to the converted wide receiver. Bostick will have to make strides in his run blocking in order to edge Stoneburner when the final decision is made, but don't be surprised if the former Newberry College stand-out wins this position battle.
For Taylor, the writing was on the wall when the Packers added Stoneburner to the roster. The team was unlikely to keep more than five tight ends, and with Stoneburner and Bostick being eligible for practice squad duties, Taylor is unlikely to keep a spot after the final roster cuts are made.
Coming up on Friday, Eric takes a look at the offensive tackles.
If you've missed any of our positional breakdowns or predictions this week, click here for the full schedule and links to each position's analyses.