This is the fourth in a series of stories that’s examining the Packers’ roster, position by position, leading up to the 2015 draft. The series continues with the tight ends.
GREEN BAY—If there’s one position on offense at which the Packers might invest a high draft pick this year, it’s tight end.
With only three tight ends on the roster, and only one of them – veteran Andrew Quarless – with more than one year of experience in the NFL, the position appears primed for more depth and competition.
The selection of Cal’s Richard Rodgers with a third-round compensatory pick last year paid immediate dividends, as Rodgers became a solid contributor late in his rookie season.
He caught a season-best five passes in the NFC North-clinching regular-season finale vs. Detroit, snagged the go-ahead TD reception in the playoff win over Dallas and added four more grabs in the NFC title game in Seattle.
Rodgers had his ups and downs last season, particularly with his blocking, but he has all the makings of the versatile, line-him-up-anywhere tight end Head Coach Mike McCarthy covets in his offense.
Should the Packers select another tight end of Rodgers’ caliber and with a pick on the first two days of the draft, it wouldn’t be a surprise in the slightest. Multiple picks at the position aren’t out of the question, either.
Prior to selecting Rodgers last year, the Packers had gone back-to-back drafts without picking a tight end. In the two drafts prior to that, in 2010-11, Green Bay selected three – Quarless, D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor – but only Quarless remains.
As the veteran mainstay at the position, Quarless has been steady when healthy but has never stepped forward as a go-to playmaker on a weekly basis. Rodgers’ emergence factored into Quarless’ numbers remaining relatively flat from 2013 (32 catches, 312 yards, two TDs) to 2014 (29-323-3). Quarless also is entering the final year of a two-year contract he signed prior to last season.
The third tight end on the current roster is Justin Perillo, an undrafted, small-school developmental prospect who spent the first half of his rookie season on the practice squad before being signed to the active roster.
The Maine alum only played in two games, primarily on special teams, but given where he started and how much progress he made in one year, the coaching staff is intrigued to see what he brings in year two.