Category Archives: Tight Ends

17

April

Brandon Bostick: The Packers’ Darkhorse at Tight End

NFL, Green Bay Packers, Brandon Bostick, Green Bay Packers tight end, Packers tight end, Packers 2014 draft

Packers TE Brandon Bostick scored his first NFL touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013

As everyone continues to wait and watch for news on the football future of Jermichael Finley, the Green Bay Packers are facing a point where they will soon have to make a decision at the tight end position.

Drafting a tight end in the upcoming NFL Draft seems like a foregone conclusion for the Packers, but they’d be wise to take a long hard look at a player currently on their roster before taking a tight end too high.

That player is not named Andrew Quarless either, though he showed some promise late last season after finally getting healthy from a 2011 knee injury.

No, the dark horse to watch is Brandon Bostick.  He saw action in 11 games in 2013 and had seven catches for 120 yards with one touchdown and three dropped passes. Those three drops all came in the Week 12 tie against the Minnesota Vikings, however.  It wasn’t an overwhelming performance, but Bostick showed enough that should warrant at a least a shot at the starting job in training camp.

The undrafted Bostick beat out former fifth round pick D.J Williams and veteran Matthew Mulligan last year in camp and had shown some flashes in practice. Bostick played wide receiver for small Newberry College and the Packers knew transitioning him to tight end would take some time.

By making the roster in 2013, Bostick must have shown he was making significant progress.  During the regular season, Bostick saw action in 11 games and scored his first NFL touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Scott Tolzien.

Looking at 2014 and beyond, Bostick could be the long term answer at tight end for Green Bay. He plays in a similar manner to Finley and having a tight end with that kind of ability does wonders for the Packers’ offense. While Finley never put up “huge” numbers for the Packers, his presence on the field alone affected how teams would attack the Green Bay offense.

By inserting Bostick, the Packers would have to do little tweaking to their style of offense.  There are going to be growing pains, but the reward in this case outweighs the risk.  It would also give Aaron Rodgers one more weapon in the passing game.

23

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: TE C.J. Fiedorowicz

C.J. Fiedorowicz

TE C.J. Fiedorowicz

Packers prospect profile:  TE  C.J. Fiedorowicz

Player Information:

C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE  Iowa,  6-7, 265 pounds  Hometown: Johnsburg, IL

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.76

Vertical jump: 31.5″

225 lb. bench: 25 reps

Broad jump: 9’8″

News and Notes:

Named Most Outstanding tight end at 2014 Senior Bowl. . .2013 First-team All-Big 10 by coaches. . .had a reception in 31 straight games. . .career-high six touchdown catches in 2013. . .Coaches Appreciation Award, Offense recipient

What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com:  Good versatility, showing the ability to come off a down block to get past defenders as a receiver. Good body control and soft hands for such a large man.  Fast in a straight-line and is a physical and attentive blocker.
  • NFL.com:  Has outstanding size and big hands. Has size to widen the hole or seal defensive ends. Good balance and body control for his size. Surprising lower-body flexibility to sink his hips to run sharp-angle routes. Has stature and enough speed to threaten the seam. Understands how to use his frame and physicality to create subtle separation. Makes athletic hands catches off his frame. Sizable catch radius. Shows toughness and concentration in traffic. Lowers his shoulder to deliver a blow after the catch. Can line up in-line or split out. Smart and durable. Builds to average speed. Fairly straight-linish athlete. Not elusive after the catch. Can improve as a move blocker and develop more of a mean streak to finish blocks. Average production. Could stand to adopt a more blue-collar work ethic when people aren’t watching — is not a self-starter and has been able to cruise on his rare size and natural ability.

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • As I always disclaim, this is a “highlight” reel.
  • Shows quite a bit of Fiedorowicz’s blocking abilities, which are good.  Spent more time in three-point stance than a few other TE’s I have profiled
  • Not quick getting into his routes and does not change direction well
  • Speed is not an asset, won’t pick up much yardage after the catch
  • Can make some tough grabs in traffic and uses his size well
  • Seems to be the type of receiver who needs to be in the right offensive system to thrive.  Won’t likely do it on ability alone

If drafted by the Packers:

22

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: TE Eric Ebron

Eric Ebron

TE Eric Ebron

Packers prospect profile:  TE Eric Ebron

Player Information:

Eric Ebron, TE  North Carolina,  6-4, 250 pounds  Hometown: Greensboro, NC

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.60

Vertical jump: 32″

225 lb. bench: 24 reps

Broad jump: 10′

News and Notes:

Second-team All-American in 2013. . . semi-finalist for Mackey award (most outstanding tight end in college football). . . had 973 receiving yards in 2013, breaking Vernon Davis’ ACC record. . . started at least one game in all four years at North Carolina. . . was second-leading receiver on the team during his sophomore season

What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com:  Smooth, gliding athlete with easy acceleration to speed past defenders in coverage and finish. Agile feet and dangerous after the catch to create with quick cuts to make defenders miss. Quick release off the LOS with route fluidity and natural flexibility. Smooth adjustments to pluck the ball with his hands away from his body – large catching radius. Physical when he wants as a blocker with strong initial power at the point of attack. Very good toughness and plays unintimidated and confident. Good football awareness and plays alert. Versatile experience lining up in-line, but mostly in the slot – also plays on special teams coverage. Still far from his ceiling. Still developing his body with room to add bulk and get stronger. Still learning how to use his size to his advantage. Needs to show more authority in his routes and is too easily redirected – needs to be more physical in this area to match up in tight spaces. Needs to be more aggressive and strong at the catch point, especially in contested situations. Has his share of focus drops and needs to be more consistent finishing catches. Good length, but won’t overwhelm defenders in the run game. Blocking technique needs developing – somewhat untested as an in-line blocker. Room to refine and sharpen his routes. Right shoulder injury in 2013.
25

February

The Packers should choose a different flavor of tight end

At the moment there are 3 “flavors” of tight ends; everyone’s favorite at the moment is chocolate and that would be the “oversized wide receiver” tight ends like Jimmy Graham or Jordan Cameron, who are players who can take the top off of a defensive secondary while posing a size match up for cornerbacks and safeties while causing speed problems for linebackers.  These types of players are what the NFL craves right now and with the Seattle Seahawks winning the Super Bowl with bigger more physical corners, the most logical response would be for NFL offenses to counter with big and fast tight ends who can beat bigger corners at their own game.  Strawberry would be the “move” tight end, much like Aaron Hernandez or Jordan Reed, who while aren’t the biggest or fastest have the most utility of the group, being able to operate decently as a inline tight end, out in the slot or even as a fullback in some situations (the Packers in particular love this kind of tight end).  Finally, there is vanilla, the old and boring standby of inline or “complete” tight end such as Jason Witten or Todd Heap who were capable inline blockers but could also operate as a safety value for a quarterback in the short passing game.  Each flavor has its own advantages and disadvantages and that’s fluctuated over time as offenses and defenses have evolved in the NFL.

When looking at the Packers under the Mike McCarthy/Ted Thompson regime, the flavors that appeal most have definitely been chocolate (Jermichael Finley, Brandon Bostick) and strawberry (Tom Crabtree, Spencer Havner, Ryan Taylor, DJ Williams) with almost no emphasis being placed on blocking.  And it’s easy to see why, with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers at the helm, plays could be extended, wide receivers got the majority of the attention on offense and running backs, outside of a couple years of Ahman Green in his prime, took a back seat to the offensive passing game.  Add to that the aerial explosion that occurred starting around that time and it’s easy to see why the Packers, along with pretty much every other NFL team, starting looking at tight ends more as receivers than blockers.  However, we might just start to see Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson pick a different favorite flavor this coming draft.

17

February

Jermichael Finley Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

Jermichael Finley

Jermichael Finley

1) Introduction:  Jermichael Finley has transformed from unknown rookie prospect who chewed out his own quarterback to the prototype for the new receiving tight end to the guy with limitless potential and limited realization.  But through out that all, Finley has always been an enigma; was Finley really as good as 2009 or as bad as 2012?  Was Finley a good guy who just loved football or a guy who threw his all-world quarterback under the bus twice?  Another page of the mystery that is Finley was added this year after he suffered a potentially career ending injury and has claimed he won’t take a discounted price on a “prove you’re healthy” deal.  Will Jermichael Finley with the Packers in 2014?  Will Jermichael Finley be in the NFL in 2014?

2) Profile:

Jermichael Decorean Finley

  • Age: 26
  • Born: 3/26/1987 in Lufkin, TX
  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 240
  • College: Texas
  • Rookie Year: 2008
  • NFL Experience: 6

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  High.  Finley played rather poorly during the first half of the 2012 season but had a quietly good second half, and many expected Finley to build on that success to the 2013 season.  Add to that 2013 being Finley’s contract year with the Packers and it should be expected that Finley would be on his best behavior and on a mission to maximize his future earnings, whether that be with the Packers or some other team.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Finley’s highlight definitely happened during the beginning of the season, where he scored a touchdown in the first two games of the season against the 49ers and the Redskins, also amassing 11 receptions and 121 yards.  While Finley still never became the offensive focus like he was in late 2009, Finley still was a matchup problem and provided another wrinkle to the Packers offense with a injury-riddled wide receiver core.  Finley’s lowlight is naturally his potentially career ending concussion/spinal cord injury against the Cleveland Browns that was simply a matter of bad luck as neither the hit nor the impact to the ground was really that devastating, just the combination that unfortunately has likely significantly shortened his career.

16

February

Brandon Bostick Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

1) Introduction:  Brandon Bostick was another player that fans and the media alike filled with boundless optimism.  After years of “will he or won’t he” performance swings from Jermichael Finley, fans were looking for another big target to stretch the middle for Aaron Rodgers and focused on Brandon Bostick, a converted wide receiver who had spent all of 2012 on the Packers practice squad.  Could Bostick become one of the new breed of “big receiver” tight end or would this be another failed conversion project for Ted Thompson.

2) Profile:

Brandon Bostick

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 5/3/1989 in Florence, SC
  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 245
  • College: Newberry
  • Rookie Year: 2012
  • NFL Experience: 2

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Moderate.  Bostick spent all of 2012 on the Packers practice squad and was not activated, presumably because he was making the conversion from college wide receiver to NFL tight end.  However, with the impending contract dispute that would be Jermichael Finley, fans and Packers front office executives alike must have been wishing for signs of progress from Bostick in order to lower the asking price of Finley due to a serviceable replacement and at very worst a decent plan B option should Finley depart in free agency.  Add to that the uncertainty of Andrew Quarless’ play due to his recovery from a season ending knee injury and Bostick had golden opportunity to turn some heads this year.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Bostick’s highlight was obviously his game against Philadelphia, where he recorded 4 receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown.  These numbers are even more impressive when you consider that Scott Tolzein was under center for that game.  It should also be mentioned that Bostick was one of the better special teams players for the Packers this year with 5 tackles and 2 assisted tackles, good for 5th on the team.  His lowlight outside of not being used very often (he saw the least amount of snaps for tight ends outside Jake Stoneburner, who was an late injury replacement) was being sent to injured reserved after breaking his foot in week 14.

15

February

Jake Stoneburner Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

1) Introduction:  As one of the bigger name rookie free agents that Ted Thompson managed to sign this offseason, Stoneburner was expected to be another “diamond in the rough” for the Packers.  A productive player at Ohio State, Stoneburner bounced back from wide receiver to tight end during his career and made most of his highlights not with his blazing speed or freak of nature measurables but with his soft hands and penchant for getting into the endzone.  Stoneburner declared for the NFL after gaining a paltry 714 yards in 53 games but with an astounding 13 touchdown receptions.

2) Profile:

Jake Stoneburner

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 9/9/1989 in Dublin, OH
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 249
  • College: Ohio State
  • Rookie Year: 2013
  • NFL Experience: Rookie

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Low.  After being cut by the Packers at the 53-man roster deadline, Stoneburner was quickly resigned to the practice squad, where he would spend the first 6 weeks of the season.  The Packers activated Stoneburner after putting Randall Cobb and Greg Van Roten on IR, but Stoneburner would only see the field infrequently; he only recorded 9 snaps during the regular season with no more than 2 in any game and did not record any meaningful statistics including receiving or blocking.  Most practice squad/rookie free agents make their pay on special teams and ironically Stoneburner was even worse in that regard, recording 2 tackles and one assisted tackle, but also drawing two penalties and a missed tackle.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: None of either sort; Stoneburner was obviously not ready to be even an auxiliary contributor on the Packers offense and the Packers used him in the definition of “sparingly”.  Missed tackles and penalties on special teams are likely due to the nature of playing special teams (special teams ace and veteran Jarrett Bush also had two penalties) and overall inexperience playing on special teams (which is usually the case with more successful college players), so Stoneburner can be given a pass on that regard.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success:  None.  Stoneburner was a injury replacement that apparently wasn’t ready to play in the NFL, which isn’t to say that Stoneburner can’t be a productive player in the future, only at the present he’s not ready yet.  So while he does get a failing grade this season, considering the situation he was put in and his overall experience in the NFL, it should not be used as an indication of his future with the Packers or in the NFL.