Richard Rodgers: How He Can Be Packers Starting Tight End in 2014

The Green Bay Packers entered this offseason with a huge hole at tight end following the injury to former starter Jermichael Finley. Yet, the 2014 NFL Draft was strong at tight end and it appears that Green Bay may have found its next starter in third-round draft choice Richard Rodgers.

Rodgers, a 6-4, 245-pound tight end from the University of Cal didn’t receive much fanfare when he was drafted by the Packers, in fact some viewed the move as a reach but Green Bay thought otherwise as Rodgers was identified as having the best hands of any tight end in the draft and after an impressive performance in Packers’ OTA’s, that may be true.

When he was first selected, it did not seem likely that the former Cal standout would push for the starting position right away but after catching the attention of head coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers in OTA’s, the door is wide open for him to start and he seems poised to take advantage of the opportunity.

One thing that helps Rodgers is that the tight end’s role in Green Bay’s offense revolves heavily around pass-catching. Sure, the tight ends are expected to block but the Finley wasn’t a great blocker either and the biggest thing the Packers need to replace is his ability to make impact plays in the passing game.

However, despite his impressive performance this offseason, starting jobs in the NFL aren’t won in June, they are won in August, meaning Rodgers is going to have consistently prove he is the best tight end throughout training camp and the preseason to lock down the starting spot. The third-rounder will also face stiff competition from Andrew Quarless, who started 10 games for the Packers last season after Finley went down to injury.

In those 10 games, Quarless was effective but not spectacular. He posted a career-high 32 receptions for 312 yards and two touchdowns. Yet, as the season wore on, he became more of a threat in the passing game and in back-to-back weeks against Dallas and Atlanta, Quarless had six receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown. The former Penn State product is also a more polished blocker than Rodgers, which gives him a slight advantage.

The other player in the mix to start for the Packers at tight end this season is third-year man Brandon Bostick, a former college receiver turned tight end that has taken big steps forward in each of his two NFL seasons. In 2013, Bostick was limited to just 11 games but did have seven receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown, flashing the kind of big-play ability he possess.

Bostick has continued to improve as a blocker and even was a key player on Green Bay’s special teams last season and if he can prove he can hold his own as a blocker he might have the best chance to knock off Rodgers because of his own ability to make impact plays in the passing game.

In the end, it will be a fascinating to watch the three men compete in what will be one the most watched position battles of training camp. Quarless is probably the favorite to start thanks to his 15 career starts and familiarity with the system, yet, the Packers know that the NFL is a young man’s game and if Rodgers proves he can handle blocking in the NFL, while continuing to turn heads with his playmaking ability, there is no way Green Bay can keep him off the field.



  • Funny but I clearly recall the analyst saying after the pick, they were shocked, this guy was rated a fourth or fifth rounder, no way the third. So what did the Pack see in the guy?

    • Yes they did and after Aaron Rodgers started playing with him, he said he thought the experts were wrong. What they see in him is a good athlete with good hands. They truly believe he has the best hands of any tight end in the draft. He also played wide receiver at one point for CAL so he can catch. The only question is how will he hold up as a blocker? If he can show he is good enough in that area, he has a good chance to start this season.

  • So you see Colt Lyerla as out of the picture?

    • I would bet the farm, if given and even chance in practice the Lyerla out performs this guy hands down but I don’t think he gets the chance or it makes management look stupid. Their own third round pick loses out to an undrafted. They will make sure that doesn’t happen. Just like Starks didn’t get much time on the field last year because they had to make sure Lacy got the yards to make them look like genis’.

      • Lyerla has been given chances so far this offseason and he has not taken advantage. Rodgers is the one making plays and turning heads. Starks didn’t get as much time of the field last season because Lacy is a stud. Starks is good but cannot be a starter anyway, he would breakdown. He has proven he can’t handle that workload, Lacy can. Plus, the NFL is about winning. To win you play your best players. I guarantee you that the Packers don’t care where a guy was drafted or if drafted at all, if he’s the best player he will play. Why do you think they were playing 5th-rounder Josh Boyd over Datone Jones last year, cause at the time he was better. But I am telling you right now, there is ZERO chance that Lyerla is the starter. He simply is not ready. He is a good prospect and I can see him potentially playing some role on offense if he makes the team but he will have to show something to make the team not only on offense but on special teams. Quarless, Bostick and Rodgers are making the team, leaving Lyerla to beat out Ryan Taylor for fourth tight end spot and Taylor is a very valuable special teams player, so Lyerla is going to have to show he can help of special teams or I don’t know if he will make the 53-man roster. He has talent but does he really care about football? Will he be dedicated enough to put in the time that is required to be successful in the NFL, all questions that need to be answered. But right now, Rodgers is way ahead of Lyerla and not because he was drafted earlier, because he is making plays.

    • I don’t see him out of picture in terms of making the 53-man roster but there is no way Lyerla starts for this team. The thing about him people are forgetting is that while he is extremely talented, he is also very raw. He is going to have a big adjustment to the pro game and didn’t play last season. He also hasn’t flashed at all. Rodgers is getting attention cause he turned heads in the offseason, Lyerla did not. He is going to start doing so in training camp and will have to prove his worth on special teams to make the roster.

      • This is really good analysis — thanks! I agree with you, and do not agree with immafubarad above, that the Packers will play the best player without regard to where or even if he was drafted. The only embarrassment is not making the playoffs or exiting earlier than might otherwise be the case depending on who is on the field. Starks’ injury experience precludes him from being a full-time back — but spelling Lacy is a great situation and really gives him a chance to shine!

        Do you think DuJuan Harris can make the team? If so, where is his role?

        • Absolutely! I would be very surprised if Harris doesn’t make the team. His only issue is staying healthy. McCarthy likes him a lot and I think he will be a great change of pace guy. He can pass block and does well in terms of catching the football. In the NFL you can never have enough good backs and I think he will perform well but I would expect only 5-10 touches per game.

Share your thoughts with the Packers Guru!