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.
After examining the returning players and newcomers at the tight end position, we are ready to go on the record with our predictions for the players who will enter the 2015 regular season on the 53-man roster. These predictions were made by the APC writing staff as a whole, with nine writers submitting their individual projections and being compiled into a single master ranking.
The tight end position might be the most difficult to predict heading into training camp with the potential problems surrounding Andrew Quarless and only one other proven player behind him in Richard Rodgers. This unit appears to be the most likely to have a newcomer be an impact player on special teams. As we see it, none of the undrafted free agents will be able to make the final cut, but a late-round selection will get tagged as a long-term project.
Starter: Richard Rodgers
This shouldn't be a huge surprise to most, as Rodgers was expected to battle Quarless for the starting spot even before Quarless' pending legal issues. Rodgers saw a drastic increase in playing time in the second half of the season in 2014, and has all the tools to become a complete tight end. If he can become a consistent run blocker on top of a surprising smooth route runner in the open field, Rodgers could be due for a big season in his sophomore campaign.
Backups: Andrew Quarless and Justin Perillo
If Quarless can escape any serious legal ramifications, he will likely jump right back into a heavy snap count within the offense. He showed progress as a run blocker in 2014 and set a career-high in touchdowns (3) and yards per reception average (11.1). If he can stay out of trouble and not shy away from contact as a run blocker, he could form one of the better one-two punches at tight end in league.
Justin Perillo was promoted to the active 53-man roster last season and played two games on special teams. He isn't as athletically gifted as Quarless or Rodgers, but he is tough player who isn't afraid of contact. If he can prove to be a reliable run blocker, he will likely have the upper hand on any of the newcomers at the position.
Note: if Quarless is suspended, sixth-round pick Kennard Backman will be our pick to make the roster in his place, at least until the suspension is up. It is highly unlikely, in our opinion, that the Packers would dress fewer than three tight ends for any game this season, and Backman should be the next man up.
Coming up on Monday: we begin looking at the offensive line.