Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson breaks down the tight ends of each NFC North team. Today: Green Bay Packers.
Jermichael Finley is not the best tight end in all of football yet, but he very soon will be. In fact, I am flat-out smitten with the guy. Finley is very special. I think he is a combination of Antonio Gates and Calvin Johnson and truly cannot be covered with one NFL defensive player. He is a receiving specimen without weakness. Finley began the season as Aaron Rodgers’ top option in an excellent passing game, but Finley was lost for the season in Week 4 with a knee injury. Just imagine what Green Bay's fantastic offense will look like next year when Finley is back in the mix.
After Finley went down last season, the Packers turned to a rookie, Andrew Quarless. Quarless has ability, but overall, he was a little disappointing. He looks like a backup who needs to become much more consistent and work on the finer points of playing his position. But rookie tight ends rarely flourish, so he could improve in 2011. Still, Finley caught as many passes as Quarless did last season, and Finley played only four games.
The Packers used a fifth-round pick on tight end D.J. Williams. Williams could seriously cut into Quarless’ playing time. Williams is an undersized tight end but was an exceptional college receiver. The Packers will probably get very creative with how they use and align the rookie.
Linebacker-turned-tight end Spencer Havner found the end zone quite a bit in 2009 considering his limited role in this offense. He contributes on special teams but was a complete non-factor on offense last season.
Tom Crabtree and Donald Lee were factors for the Super Bowl champs last season. But neither player is a mismatch in the passing game and both are now liabilities as blockers. Lee was cut in March, and it wouldn’t be surprising if neither player were on Green Bay’s opening day roster.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com. Follow Matt Williamson on Twitter @WilliamsonNFL