Over the next few weeks, we will break down each position on the Green Bay Packers' 2015 roster in detail, discussing each player and making our predictions for the final 53-man roster.
The tight end position is the most likely unit to yield an undrafted free agent contributor this season after the team decided not to pursue any veteran free agents or early-round draft selections. The team has brought in three intriguing additions to the camp roster, one via sixth-round draft selection and two via undrafted free agent deals. With the recent incident involving Andrew Quarless and no established names behind him other than Richard Rodgers, one of these rookies could find their way onto the 53-man roster.
Let's take a look at the new faces in the tight end group.
#86 Kennard Backman
H/W: 6'3, 245 pounds
College Stats: 90 rec., 936 yards, nine touchdowns in three seasons
Contract Terms: Four-year rookie contract worth $2.37 million total with $90,484 signing bonus. $435,000 base salary in 2015.
The team took a late-round flyer on Backman in this year's draft, and the coaching staff is hoping Backman will add some versatility to the tight end group. At UAB, Backman was continually asked to run the seam route and did so with regular success. The key to his chances of making the 53-man roster will be in his ability as a run blocker. If his infamous "de-cleater" block against Troy is any indication, that isn't something Backman is going to shy away from.
#85 Mitchell Henry
H/W: 6'4, 252 pounds
College: Western Kentucky
College Stats: 32 rec., 489 yards, 4 TDs in 2014.
Contract Terms: Signed through 2017 season. $435,000 base salary, $5,000 signing bonus.
Henry was brought in as an undrafted free agent this spring. He is an athletic, pass-catching tight end, but his ability as a run blocker is suspect. He shows a quick release off the ball and routinely uses his frame to box-out defenders and make difficult receptions away from his body. If Henry can prove he won't get overpowered in the ground game, the staff might consider stashing him on the practice squad.
#40 Harold Spears
H/W: 6'4, 248 pounds
NFL Experience: Rookie
College Stats: 90 rec., 1,316 yards, eight touchdowns in two seasons.
Contract Terms: Signed through 2016 season. $435,000 base salary in 2015.
Spears is surprising athletic for his thick frame, but needs work as a run blocker if he going to make an NFL roster. He showed soft hands and the willingness to go across the middle and absorb the big hit while at New Hampshire, but isn't a natural athlete at the position. He's a long-term project, but the coaching staff saw enough of his film to give him a shot in camp.