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.
17

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: TE Jace Amaro

Jace Amaro

TE Jace Amaro

Packers prospect profile:  TE Jace Amaro

Player Information:

Jace Amaro,  TE  Texas Tech, 6-5, 265 pounds  Hometown: San Antonio, TX

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.74

Vertical jump: 33″

225 lb. bench: 28 reps

Broad jump: 9’10″

News and Notes:

AP first team All American . . .had 1,352 receiving yards in 2013 and averaged 104 yards per game. . .His 106 catches were most by a college tight end in 2013 and second most all time in NCAA history. . .was arrested in 2012 on suspicion of unauthorized use of a debit card.

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com: Lining up mostly in the slot, Amaro is a big, fluid athlete who uses his thick body to gain proper positioning in coverage and uses his large, soft mitts to attack the ball in the air. He is a balanced route-runner and collects himself when changing direction with smooth moves to create separation. Amaro is dangerous after the catch and isn’t an easy ballcarrier to bring down, running with power and toughness.  Some maturity and attitude questions that will need to be addressed. Receiving tight end who won’t be a fit for all schemes unless he can get in an NFL training program and bulk up
  • NationalFootballPost.com:  Very athletic for a big guy and has excellent speed and body control. He is quick off the line and is a very good route runner. He can break down and get in and out of cuts very quickly for a big guy. On the shorter one-cut routes, he consistently gains separation. He has the play speed to get open on post and flag routes versus defensive backs. He has very good hands and can adjust to the ball. He is a competitive and tough kid who consistently competes for the ball in traffic. After the catch, he has a quick burst to pull away and has the quick feet and moves to make a defender miss. He uses his size well and can easily break tackles. He is an instant mismatch because of his size and athleticism. As a blocker, he looks like a big wide receiver blocking. He can use his hands and can stay with a block but he is not overly physical.  Amaro is the type of “tight end” that most NFL teams are now looking for. He has the speed and athleticism to play split out and can really be called a jumbo wide receiver.
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.

24

October

Charting Life After Finley

Much has been made rightly so about Jermichael Finley’s injury; I won’t go too much in depth because it’s been covered by several of my fellow writers but I will add that it’s great to hear that indications point to Finley avoiding a life-changing injury; ultimately the injury may cost him his career as a professional football player but at least he will be able to live a relatively normal life afterwards.  Going back to football, the question becomes “what do the Packer do now without Cobb, Jones AND now Finley?”  Obviously Finley was more a wide receiver than a traditional inline tight end and therefore could compensate somewhat for losing both Jones and Cobb but now that Finley is also out for the foreseeable future, what does the Packers wide receiver and tight end cores look like and how will they operate?  Keep in mind tight end is the joker of the Packers offense as tight ends often play inline, in the slot, as a fullback, as a move tight end and sometimes even on the outside; a lot of the Packers’ creativity, versatility and matchup problems come from moving tight ends around so seeing what they do with their tight ends is often a good indication of what their offense will operate.

I think the simplistic view is to look at body types and try to project players into Finley’s role.  Andrew Quarless is naturally the first option as he has the most experience and receiving production of the remaining tight ends.  Quarless is also a good blocker and thus likely would have seen time on offense even with Finley playing so playing him wouldn’t arouse as many suspicions as any other player.  The second option would be Brandon Bostick, a former wide receiver in a tight end body that has been with the Packers since 2012 who might be the most athletically gifted of the backup pass catchers.  The Packers obviously see something in him by keeping him this long and keeping him on the 53 man roster and his history as a wide receiver could help compensate for the more “wide receiver” like plays that Finley often made. However, just looking at body type and playing history is often misleading, Quarless has been in this situation before in 2010 when Finley was lost for the year with a torn ACL and did nothing with it and Bostick wasn’t even able to beat DJ Williams last year for a spot on the roster.

19

July

Ten Packers Training Camp Topics: #6 — Finley’s finale?

Jermichael Finley came on after the bye week last season. Will this be Finley's last season in Green Bay?

Jermichael Finley came on after the bye week last season. Will this be Finley’s last season in Green Bay?

In five years with the Packers, Jermichael Finley has gone from being the outspoken tight end to a focal point of the offense, and again, back to the outspoken tight end.

And in a circus-cautious locker room such as the one in Green Bay, Finley has been one of the most scrutinized players on the team since being drafted in 2008.

To most fans, for every positive from Finley, there’s two negatives. But to the Packers, for every negative, there’s a plethora positives. And for that reason, the team has committed to (at least) one more year from the 26-year-old tight end.

Finley enjoyed a breakout 2009 season, his second in the NFL. Finley caught 55 passes for 676 yards and five scores. His per-game averages of 4.2 catches and 52 yards are still the highest of his five-year career.

Fan perception of Finley throughout the past two seasons has been predominantly negative.

Due to dropped passes, the 2011 season was largely a disappointment. In total, Finley dropped 14 passes–the most by any tight end in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. But Finley started the season well. Through the first nine games of the season, Finley dropped just three passes and caught 33. Over the final eight games, Finley’s number of drops ballooned to 11.

Still, his season numbers were nothing to scoff at. His 55 receptions tied a career high, and he set new personal bests with 767 yards and eight touchdowns.

This past season was, again, a tale of two halves for Finley.

He dropped nine passes through the Packers’ first 12 games. But after a Week 13 win over the Vikings, Finley didn’t drop another pass the rest of the season. Over that six-game stretch, Finley caught 25 balls on 33 targets.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy took note of the improvement by praising Finley after the season.

“I really felt Jermichael Finley was a different man, a different player from the bye week on,” McCarthy said, per JSOnline.com. “I had an opportunity to talk to him about that at length in his exit interview, so I feel very good about the way he finished the year.”

15

July

Packers Undrafted Rookie Scouting Report: Jake Stoneburner, TE Ohio State

Player Information:

  • Jake Stoneburner, TE Ohio State
  • 6’4”/252 lbs
  • Hometown – Dublin, Ohio

Pro Day:

  • 40 yard: 4.62
  • 20 yard: 2.65
  • 10 yard: 1.63
  • Bench: 18
  • Vertical: 34.5
  • Broad: 116”
  • Shuttle: 4.27
  • 3-cone: 7.12

Introduction:

Outside of Jermichael Finley, the Packers like their tight ends to be versatile.  Whether it be playing special teams, in the slot, inline, in motion, or even behind the line of scrimmage as a fullback, if the Packers want a jack-of-all-trades, they are going to go with a tight end.  However jack-of-all-trades usually means master of none, and with the Packers, they have a ton of tight ends that all sort of fit the same mold.  Jake Stoneburner is another, a former wide receiver turned tight end from Ohio State, he can do a little bit of everything, but doesn’t shine in any particular spot.  Add to that his arrest for urinating on a building and then hiding from the police (which in light of the recent news Aaron Hernandez has made can be considered a “boys will be boys” mistake) and Stoneburner surprising fell out of the draft after being predicted a late round pick.  Will Stoneburner be another diamond in the rough that Thompson digs up or another tight end who is never good enough at one thing to warrant seeing the field?

Outside Analysis:

CBS: Stoneburner is a tall athlete with good length and catching radius. He plays with excellent body control to adjust and come down with the catch, showing very good field awareness. Stoneburner has usually strong hands and focus to snatch the ball out of the air and make some tough catches look easy. He makes plays after the catch, showing good effort and power to pick up tough yards. Stoneburner has smooth footwork in his routes and straight-line speed to make plays downfield. He displays some tenacity as a blocker and does a nice job on the perimeter. Stoneburner did a nice job finding the end zone with 13 career touchdowns, scoring once every 4.1 times he touched the ball.