August 22, 2019, 07:30:30 PM

Author Topic: Position look: FB/TE  (Read 3123 times)

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Offline RT

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Position look: FB/TE
« on: May 20, 2019, 10:33:21 AM »
This combination of positions is always hard to call. In the past their has been a wide range in the number of players kept at this position combo, last season the Packers opened with 4 TE's and no FB's for the first time that I know of. Maybe in their history? We have seen recently as many as 3 FB's with only 2 TE's, in 2010 they opened with 2 FB's and 4 TE'S. With the value these players have for contributing on ST's they are often in the mix for the last handful of roster spots handed out that are given regardless of position because of that potential value.

Depth Chart: (TE)  Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis, Jace Sternberger, Robert Tonyan, Davis Koppenhaver, Evan Baylis  (FB) Danny Vitale, Malcolm Johnson

Locks - Jimmy Graham and Jace Sternberger

Some may not see Graham as a lock because of trade rumors that have been tied to him, but I don't believe he is going anywhere. Others may see Lewis as a lock and that would be hard to dispute with the signing bonus the Packers gave him, I just don't think there is anything left in his tank and that was a head scratcher for me. I'm interested to see how that plays out. 

In the Hunt - Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan and Danny Vitale

This is the real puzzle of this group, how many of these players are kept? If they only keep 4, that is my current thought, if Lewis does make it then Tonyan and Vitale and the others would be competing for one roster spot on the 53. That would be some good competition playing out. 

Longshots - Davis Koppenhaver, Evan Baylis and Malcolm Johnson

Like the players at the back of the depth chart at every position these 3 are at long odds, but also every year we see a few players over come the long odds to land on the opening day roster. Never quit, never say never.


Offline dannobanano

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Re: Position look: FB/TE
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2019, 02:08:09 PM »
I think they will keep 4 TE's:
Graham
Lewis
Sternberger
Tonyan

1) I agree that Graham is as close to a lock at TE as there is on this team. The 2018 season did not sit well with Graham, he's said as much. I look for his effort to be much higher than last year and look for multiple ways MLF can use him to make him much more effective in 2019.
2) I also think Lewis is very likely to make this team. He is, undoubtedly, the best blocking TE that is on the team and this new offnese needs a reliable run blocking TE.
3) Being a 3rd round pick, Sternberger is all but guaranteed a spot on the 53 man roster.
4) IMO, Tonyan stays as well. He showed too much upside last year and has been extremely dedicated this off-season to becoming a much better TE. He's been working out with George Kittle (SF), and the reviews have been positive. Next year the Packers will likely move on from both Lewis and Graham. Continuing to develop Tonyan is a long term plan than makes sense, rather than keep just one TE (Sternberger) to carry into 2020. Tonyan's price tag is friendly as well.


And they will also keep 1 FB/HB:
Vitale

Vitale is an extremely versatile player that can play FB, HB, and TE (he played all those spots at Northwestern). MLF could be planning to use him in much the same manner that Shanahan uses Kyle Juszcsyk at San Fran. His strengths are his route running and he has great hands. He could line up in the backfield, in the slot, inline as a TE, and he can split out. MLF covets versatile players that can be used in multiple roles. Vitale fits that mold


Offline OneTwoSixFive

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Re: Position look: FB/TE
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2019, 02:27:20 PM »
Since the Packers are unlikely to keep either Lewis or Graham after 2019, I cannot see less than 4 TE's on the final 53. When those two are gone it will be another very young group.............maybe the Packers get another vet in, maybe they get another TE in the first three rounds of the 2020 draft.
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Offline RT

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Re: Position look: FB/TE
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2019, 05:23:27 PM »
Am I the Lone Ranger in doubting that Lewis has anything left to offer? He has had an excellent career as a blocking TE and always graded out at the top or near the top for all TE's year after year, that is until last season when he ended the season with a 52.2 grade (below average) with PFF and in the bottom 20%. Could it be that he is just a campbody to help the young TE's learn the offense, remember the new OC was in Jacksonville with him. That is probably a reach, but I just think he is a name with no game.

Offline dannobanano

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Re: Position look: FB/TE
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2019, 05:55:37 PM »
Not saying your wrong RT, but by bringing Hackett into the conversation it may mean he knows how to squeeze what little gas there is left in Lewis' tank out of him better than anyone else could.

In Marcedes last year at JAX (and in Hackett's offense) he had just 24 receptions (318 yds; approx. 13 yds/catch), and had 5 TD catches (that's a TD catch every 5 catches. nice ratio). So maybe Hackett still views him as a potential red zone target, and/or maybe his remaining blocking skills better fit what they want to do this year as opposed to last year.

We are all just spitballing. Training camp will shake it out. It will be fun to watch unfold.

Online craig

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Re: Position look: FB/TE
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2019, 10:30:44 AM »
Am I the Lone Ranger in doubting that Lewis has anything left to offer? ...Could it be that he is just a campbody to help the young TE's learn the offense, remember the new OC was in Jacksonville with him. That is probably a reach, but I just think he is a name with no game.

No.  But I think the size and structure of his contract suggests that Gute and the Packers think he may have something left to offer?  HIs contract seems too strong for a "camp body" guy.  $500K signing bonus and dead cap seems beyond "camp body".  Gute and the Packers may often be wrong, though; signing him and keeping him and paying him to offer something, doesn't necessarily mean that he'll actually provide what they're hoping he will.  Teams miss all the time. And obviously his deal isn't that great, if he looks dead in camp, they can still cut him. 

A tangent on this is that he seems to be the only lineman-style blocking TE in the room.  Graham isn't, and neither are Tonyan nor Steinberger.  IN the post-draft pressers, Packer management talked up Steinberger's pass-catching potential much more than his run-blocking. 

I mention that because it's been common lore that MLF is really strongly oriented towards the run game, we're going to run more, we're going to have TE's run-blocking more, etc..  But if so, I think it's interesting that I see a room with one run-blocking TE and three long-lean pass-catching-oriented TE's.  I see two simplistic thought options here:
1.  The run-blocking-TE emphasis assumption is true.  Being the only run-blocker in the room, Lewis is a lock to make the roster.  (Whether or not he actually performs well in the role is a different question.  But if they really are committed to run-blocking TE, yet built their roster with Lewis being the only man available, then it would follow that they are strongly committed to Lewis making the roster. 

2.  A contrary option is that perhaps the lore is wrong, and MLF is NOT actually committed to run-blocking TE who is more a 6th o-lineman and has only small role as a pass-catcher.  Maybe MLF actually prefers TE's who are legit pass-receiving options?  Maybe having guys who can lineup and get in the way as blockers or in the run game is desired, but he think it's more needful to have TE's who provide viable option to the QB, and who command serious respect from a defense?  Who can get in the way for a second, then step out and be a target?  Or who can get out intentionally and either catch passes or command serious respect from defenses who have to assign manpower to covering them?  Manpower that is diverted from the blitz, and is pulled away from the line giving running backs more space to operate and make moves?  **IF** MLF really prefers TE's who are receiving threats and thus keep the defense guessing as to their usage on a given play, then perhaps they are NOT at all committed to Lewis on the roster, and cutting him despite the $0.5 signing bonus and dead cap hit i something they'll consider if the younger personnel in the room impress during camp.  (I'd love to see the latter play out, have the young guys look great enough so that you want to keep them and are willing to play them too....)

Offline RT

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Re: Position look: FB/TE
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2019, 07:15:03 AM »
It looks like just maybe the Packers are not sold on Lewis either. The Packers were one of 5 teams to put in a claim for blocking TE Jordon Leggett who was awarded to Tampa Bay. The 6'5/258 Leggett was a 5th round pick of the Jets in 2017 who was best known for his blocking coming out of Clemson, he was released just days after Mike Maccagnan was fired and HC Adam Gase assumed the acting GM role. Leggett had 14 receptions with the Jets last season in 15 games played.

Offline dannobanano

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Re: Position look: FB/TE
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2019, 08:44:05 AM »
It looks like just maybe the Packers are not sold on Lewis either. The Packers were one of 5 teams to put in a claim for blocking TE Jordon Leggett who was awarded to Tampa Bay. The 6'5/258 Leggett was a 5th round pick of the Jets in 2017 who was best known for his blocking coming out of Clemson, he was released just days after Mike Maccagnan was fired and HC Adam Gase assumed the acting GM role. Leggett had 14 receptions with the Jets last season in 15 games played.

I was going to post that too RT. Gute is not done trying to tweak the TE group. I remember the year Leggett was drafted, there were early rumors (January, February) that year that he might have been an early round target of the Packers. But his Combine, and other testing, dropped his draft stock dramatically.

If the Packers can claim a combo TE off waivers (or even trade for someone lower on a depth chart) that could be a longer term player for GB, then I could see Lewis being released at some point.

Lewis serves a purpose, at the moment, but he is not the long term answer, and that's what I've said all along.

I still believe that if Hockenson had been on the board when the Packers picked at #12, he would have been the pick. No question in my mind.

Offline dannobanano

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Re: Position look: FB/TE
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2019, 02:11:52 PM »
If it was possible, I'd like to see the Packers send Josh Jones and a 2020 6th round pick to Denver for Troy Fumagalli.

2 cents

Offline RT

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Re: Position look: FB/TE
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2019, 01:59:19 PM »
This is two years in a row for Gute signing players out of college that really don't want to play football. Repeating what I said last year at this time, maybe the first question they should ask these players before signing them is asking if they really want to play football for a living.

 
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#Packers TE Davis Koppenhaver, an undrafted rookie from Duke, has decided to step away from the game and pursue a career outside of football, according to a source.

Offline dannobanano

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Re: Position look: FB/TE
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2019, 05:04:51 AM »
While I agree with parts of this article...………..

https://packerstalk.com/2019/06/05/packers-sternbergers-impact-likely-minimal-in-2019/

[Packers’ third-round draft pick Jace Sternberger, who many are expecting to be a game changer in the receiving game. And while he has the tools to do so, it likely won’t be this season...………………...
However, with what Sternberger can bring to the passing game, he lacks experience as an inline blocker, which is an ability that is going to play an integral role for tight ends in LaFleur’s system...…………………...
There is also the fact that even for the top tight ends taken every year in the draft, the jump from college ball to the NFL comes with an enormous learning curve...……..
Just given all that is on their plates, rookie tight ends, in general, don’t see much playing time that first season.
I really do like what I have seen from Sternberger on tape and hopefully, he blossoms into a reliable red zone target for Aaron Rodgers, as well as a capable blocker, even though he may never excel at that aspect of the game.
With that said, it likely won’t be in 2019 that we see Sternberger make a huge impact, in fact, it’ll probably be the opposite.
With Graham in front of him, his raw blocking ability, and with everything that he has to learn both schematically and technically, this is a season that will be about development for Sternberger.]



While I agree that Sternberger will not be an every down impact player, I do not discount the premise that he could have an impact in certain situations.

MLF's offense is known for being able to scheme open players in the right situations. I want to believe that as MLF and his staff breakdown film of opposing teams they will be looking for defensive tendencies that they can exploit with certain players, and it could very well be that there will be opportunities for (both) Sternberger and Tonyan to take advantage of those opportunities in down/distance/personnel packages. Look at what MLF had to say about the WR's and comparing them to a basketball team.

https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/05/24/matt-lafleur-choosing-wideouts-like-filling-out-a-basketball-roster/

[LaFleur said this week that picking a wide receiver group is like “filling out a basketball roster.”
“You need guys that are at a certain area of expertise, and then it’s our job as coaches to put those guys into position where they can showcase that skill set … You’re not going to go out and play with five point guards,” LaFleur said, via the team’s website. “You need a speed guy. You need a guy that’s got short-area quickness … we’d like to have a couple guys that are versatile enough to do both of those things.”]

The same thought line could apply to the TE group as well.

Lewis will have his limitations due mostly to age, at this point in his career. So, it's not hard for me to imagine either/both of the youngsters at TE being able to make some noise over the course of the season. I just have a hard time buying into the writers thought's that, "it likely won’t be in 2019 that we see Sternberger make a huge impact, in fact, it’ll probably be the opposite."

I expect Sternberger to do more than just spend a season learning. JMHO.

Offline Hands

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Re: Position look: FB/TE
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2019, 05:21:19 AM »
One FB and another tight end that can be used as a H-back will make the roster. If your one FB gets hurt (this is Green Bay after all) you can't throw out your playbook because you don't have the right players. I don't know if that H-back is on the roster now or not. So I don't think Gutsey is even close to finishing this position. I look for him to add possible candidates regularly as possible until TC.
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Offline dannobanano

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Re: Position look: FB/TE
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2019, 05:47:53 AM »
I think Danny Vitale is the player to keep an eye on.

https://packerswire.usatoday.com/2019/02/25/packers-fb-danny-vitale-could-thrive-in-matt-lafleurs-offense/

[The arrival of coach Matt LaFleur and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett in Green Bay could provide a golden opportunity for Packers fullback Danny Vitale, a versatile pass-catcher capable of thriving in the new offense.

Vitale caught 135 passes for 1,427 yards and 11 scores at Northwestern. He played fullback, H-back, running back and slot receiver, displaying a high level of route-running ability and versatility for a player his size (6-1, 240).

LaFleur just didn’t have the right fullback to run some of Shanahan’s stuff last season in Tennessee. In Green Bay, Vitale has a real chance to be that guy.
“He can line up in the slot. He can play the tight end position, but also fullback, too,” Packers defensive lineman Dean Lowry told the team’s official site. “He can do it on special teams, as well. He’s a guy who can do a lot of different things, which I why I think he’s a very valuable player.”

But in Vitale, LaFleur has a player with the dual-threat skill set to thrive within the schematic foundation he learned from Shanahan in Houston, Washington and Atlanta. His receiving ability is a perfect match for an offense that wants to create as much stress on the defense pre-snap as possible.
Vitale will need to have a strong summer, but don’t be surprised if he makes the 53-man roster and has a defined role within the offense in 2019.]

Online craig

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Re: Position look: FB/TE
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2019, 10:29:06 AM »
....While I agree that Sternberger will not be an every down impact player, I do not discount the premise that he could have an impact in certain situations.

MLF's offense is known for being able to scheme open players in the right situations. I want to believe that as MLF and his staff breakdown film of opposing teams they will be looking for defensive tendencies that they can exploit with certain players, and it could very well be that there will be opportunities for (both) Sternberger and Tonyan to take advantage of those opportunities in down/distance/personnel packages......

I expect Sternberger to do more than just spend a season learning. JMHO.

What do you guys see as the differences between Tonyan vs Sternberger?  To me they both seem to have a similar profile: slender pass-catching guys, good speed, willing but lack blocking strength.  Both variably inexperienced, Steinberger being the rookie, but Tonyan having position-switched not many years ago. 

Do they each have some distinctive qualities, such that Tonyan is a better fit for certain packages and situations, while Steinberger is a better fit for others?  If so, how and why?  Are either of them actually a little bigger or stronger than the other? 

My guess is that in general, they really do profile largely the same, and there won't be both "Tonyan packages" and distinct "Jace packages".  My guess is that for this year, any package that uses either one of them will default to using Tonyan.  And that Steinberger for now will be a developmental redshirt, who probably won't see any snaps until/unless one of the 3 guys ahead of him get hurt, or unless it's garbage time in a blowout. 

I may have it exactly reversed, too, I realize....  Perhaps Jace is just a better, more athletic guy, who runs faster, has better feel for soft-spots, stretches the defense better, has better hands, has a mental processor that's a little quicker for handling the speed of NFL action, and is perhaps just as big or bigger for blocking?  So maybe as camp goes by he'll just naturally surpass Tonyan, and he'll be the next-man-up if Graham/Lewis are hurt or tired, or if you want a package with more receiving speed and vertical threat than Lewis can provide. 

What do you guys re Tonyan vs Jace?   




I guess what I'm wondering is, using the various personnel packages and down/distance situations, I wonder what packages and situations will be better fit by Steinberger, and why; and what situations will be better fit by Tonyan, and why? 

Maybe they profile kinda the same, but Steinberger is simply a better and faster better-handed pass receiver?  So Steinberger will naturally move ahead of Tonyan for pass-oriented scenarios?  Or is Steinberger a shade bigger and more physical for blocking, or maybe that's Tonyan? 




Offline RT

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Re: Position look: FB/TE
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2019, 02:24:55 PM »
Agree with you craig, I have had the same thoughts. I think Graham, Tonyan and Sternberger all play the same roll in the Packers offense. Is that the plan? Having 3 TE's that are only pass catchers for the most part is interesting to say the least.