Wednesday, June 26, 2013

2013: Looking Around The Division: TE & OL

Well, I had missed posting like I had wanted to this past weekend, so why not try to make it up to you guys with a double feature of my latest recap of the teams in the division, as we are now 29 days away from the Packers opening up training camp.  Today I am going to be looking at Tight Ends first and then at the respective offensive lines.

4.  Chicago Bears
  1. Martellus Bennett #83 (26, 6'6" 270 lbs)
  2. Fredi Onobun #84 (26, 6'6" 249 lbs)
  3. Steve Maneri #87 (25, 6'6" 290 lbs)
  4. Brody Eldridge #88 (26, 6'5" 265 lbs)
  5. Gabe Miller #85 (25, 6'3" 257 lbs)
The Bears show up at the bottom of the list, simply because they have the least experience at the position.  One thing that they are not lacking, however, is size.  Bennett has been a backup to Jason Witten for most of his career, which isn't that bad.  Last year, he was on the Giants and was their primary TE option, with 55 catches, 626 yards, and 5 TD, all career highs.  Their #2 tight end was a former basketball player, hasn't played in the NFL since 2011.  Maneri is a pure blocker coming over from the Chiefs last year, but he did have 5 catches last year.  Eldridge was OOF last year as well.  Miller has never played in an NFL game, and just got busted for violating the NFL PED policy.  Probably won't be on the team for too long.

3.  Green Bay Packers
  1. Jermichael Finley #88 (26, 6'5" 247 lbs)
  2. Andrew Quarless #81 (24, 6'4" 252 lbs)
  3. D.J. Williams #84 (24, 6'2" 245 lbs)
  4. Matthew Mulligan #85 (28, 6'4" 265 lbs)
  5. Brandon Bostick #86 (24, 6'3" 260 lbs)
Finley has had 3 seasons with over 600 yards receving and 55 catches.  In 2011, he had 8 touchdowns.  Everyone goes crazy about the drops that he has had, but I'm hoping he can turn it around this year.  Hopefully having more catches and TD than he has previously.  Everyone sees Finley as a big potential guy, but if he is unable to improve this season, it is likely he will be let go from the team in free agency if he will not take a pay cut.  Quarless is a major question mark since his knee injury in December of 2011.  D.J. is more of a receiving TE than Quarless is, but even with Finley having issues last season, Williams didn't come onto the field much.  Mulligan is a blocking TE as well, mainly going to battle with Quarless or play if Quarless doesn't do well in his rehab.  Bostick is also a basketball player with a big upside and he was on our practice squad last year, hopefully he has improved enough for us to see him make the roster this year.

2.  Minnesota Vikings
  1. Kyle Rudolph #82 (23, 6'6" 258 lbs)
  2. John Carlson #89 (29, 6'5" 251 lbs)
  3. Rhett Ellison #40 (24, 6'5" 251 lbs)
  4. Chase Ford #86 (22, 6'6" 245 lbs)
  5. Colin Anderson #45 (23, 6'4" 200 lbs)
Rudolph is one of Christian Ponder's favorite targets in the Red Zone.  Of the 18 TD passes that Ponder had thrown, Rudolph caught 9 of them last year.  50% of your Quarterback's Touchdowns is a major deal.  Carlson is another major contributer at the TE position in the past.  Carlson has 13 career TD's which is one more than Ponder.  His best season would be 7 TD in 2009 with the Seahawks.  He had a knee injury before the season last year which limited his production, but they could be a solid 2 TE system this year.  Ellison was primarily an H-back last season.  Ford signed on in the offseason but no NFL experience.  Anderson has the Furman TE record for TE with 11.  He is a little bit small, but if he puts on some weight he should be very athletic.

1.  Detroit Lions
  1. Brandon Pettigrew #87 (28, 6'5" 265 lbs)
  2. Tony Scheffler #85 (30, 6'5" 265 lbs)
  3. Michael Williams #89 (23, 6'5" 278 lbs)
  4. Matt Veldman #? (24, 6'7" 255 lbs)
  5. Joseph Fauria #47 (23, 6'7" 255 lbs)
Pettigrew is a consistent TE that has had at least 55 catches and 550 yards the last 3 seasons.  However, the most TD he has produced in his career is 5.  That is completely ludicrous.  He should be performing at a much higher level, but Megatron does take most of the red zone catches on the team.  Scheffler has 8 TD in his career at Detroit, but only had 1 last year when their offense had been struggling.  Williams is a 7th round TE that projects into being their primary blocking TE.  Veldman has only been signed for 9 days now, and hasn't officially been giving a jersey number.  He was on IR all last year with the Jaguars.  Fauria is familiar to me since I was thinking the Packers might use a late round pick on him.  Nephew of Christian Fauria.  He would definitely be a pass catching TE as it has been reported he is a poor blocker.  That's it for the TE, so let's move onto the Offensive Line.

4.  Detroit Lions
  • Starting 5
  • LT: Riley Reiff #71 (24, 6'6" 315 lbs)
  • LG: Rob Sims #67 (29, 6'3" 312 lbs)
  • C: Dominic Raiola #51 (34, 6'1" 295 lbs)
  • RG: Larry Warford #75 (22, 6'3" 332 lbs)
  • RT: Corey Hilliard #78 (28, 6'6" 280 lbs)
  • Backups
  • Austin Holtz #72 (23, 6'5" 300 lbs)
  • Rodney Austin #74 (24, 6'4" 311 lbs)
  • Dylan Gandy #65 (31, 6'3" 295 lbs)
  • Bill Nagy #61 (25, 6'3" 308 lbs)
  • Jason Fox #70 (25, 6'6" 314 lbs)
Stafford took 29 sacks last season, which is fairly regular.  But they are only returning two starters from last season, Sims & Raiola.  Reiff had been another first round draft pick from the University of Iowa, similar to our own left tackle, Bulaga, he is listed as having short arms and mediocre athletic ability.  The Detroit free press stated before the draft that the Lions wanted him to play at RG this season, but because of the many tackles taken before number five in the draft, it moves Bulaga to LT to fill in for the now retired Jeff Backus, who probably just got tired of playing for the Lions.  Sims and Raiola are strong lineman, but if you don't have 5 strong ones, then you are plenty limited.  Warford is a rookie Guard from the University of Kentucky.  His best 40 yard dash time at the combine was 5.53, and he benched 28 reps.  Hilliard has been limited by injuries in his career.  He and Fox are going to be in a tight competition at the RT position.  They combined for 1 appearance in all of the games last year.

3. Chicago Bears
  • Starters
  • LT: Jermon Bushrod #74 (28, 6'5" 315 lbs)
  • LG: Matt Slauson #68 (27, 6'5" 315 lbs)
  • C: Roberto Garza #63 (34, 6'2" 310 lbs)
  • RG: Kyle Long #75 (24, 6'6" 313 lbs)
  • RT: J'Marcus Webb #73 (24, 6'7" 333 lbs)
  • Backups
  • Eben Britton #62 (25, 6'6" 308 lbs)
  • Edwin Williams #70 (26, 6'3" 315 lbs)
  • Taylor Boggs #60 (26, 6'3" 285 lbs)
  • James Brown #78 (24, 6'4" 306 lbs)
  • Johnathan Scott #79 (30, 6'6" 318 lbs)
Bushrod had been protecting Brees so Kromer should know exactly what he is getting from Bushrod, but he is new to the Bears.  Slauson has been on the Jets for the past 3 seasons.  Never missed a game, but again, new to the Bears, chemistry is so important on the offensive line.  Garza is staying at Center, but he didn't necessarily have a great season last year.  Kyle Long is a rookie from Oregon, the first round pick they had used this year.  Long is said to be very athletic, so I highly doubt that he is going to be staying at Guard in the long term.  Webb is moving from LT to RT, which should help him out a little bit since he struggled at LT last season.  Trestman has a lot of work to do on the Offensive line that was clearly abysmal last year, Kromer as a former O-Line coach has a big role since he is the offensive coordinator.  They have 3 new players and Webb is at a new position.  It just seems like there is going to be a lot of issues here again, but you have to say that Trestman is at least trying to perform an overhaul that has been desperately needed under the Lovie Smith era.  

2.  Green Bay Packers
  • Starters
  • LT: Bryan Bulaga #75 (24, 6'5" 314 lbs)
  • LG: Josh Sitton #71 (27, 6'3" 318 lbs)
  • C: Evan Dietrich-Smith #62 (26, 6'2" 308 lbs)
  • RG: T.J. Lang #70 (25, 6'4" 318 lbs)
  • RT: Marshall Newhouse #74 (24, 6'4" 319 lbs)
  • Backups
  • David Bakhtiari #69 (21, 6'4" 299 lbs)
  • Greg Van Roten #64 (23, 6'3" 303 lbs)
  • Garth Gerhart #72 (24, 6'1" 305 lbs)
  • J.C. Tretter #73 (21-22, 6'4" 307 lbs)
  • Derek Sherrod #78 (24, 6'6" 321 lbs)
  • Andrew Datko #77 (22, 6'6" 315 lbs)
  • Lane Taylor #65 (23, 6'3" 324 lbs)
  • Patrick Lewis #60 (22, 6'1" 311 lbs)
  • Kevin Hughes #68 (24, 6'4" 304 lbs)
  • Don Barclay #67 (24, 6'4" 305 lbs)
Now I just want to take a moment and be clear that these are not necessarily who I would start at these positions.  This was from one of the only spots that is showing a complete depth chart including offensive lineman over at yahoo.  We all know about the major switch that has gone down with the rotation on the offensive line.  Technically, the only new starter this year would be Evan Dietrich-Smith from the start of last season.  Plus, EDS probably could have started at Center last year in place of Saturday.  Obviously the rotation of our lineman is a big question mark, but our bigger question mark is who is going to start at RT.  Newhouse, Sherrod, and Barclay are probably the frontrunners, but that doesn't mean there wouldn't be any other options at RT.  Bakhtiari and Datko are my two dark horse candidates to start the season at RT.  If I had to pick one person that would be the best player on our offensive line, I would lean toward Bulaga, and we need him to be our offensive line MVP as he moves to the other side.

1.  Minnesota Vikings
  • Starters
  • LT: Matt Kalil #75 (23, 6'7" 306 lbs)
  • LG: Charlie Johnson #74 (29, 6'4" 305 lbs)
  • C: John Sullivan #65 (27, 6'4" 301 lbs)
  • RG: Brandon Fusco #63 (24, 6'4" 306 lbs)
  • RT: Phil Loadholt #71 (27, 6'8" 343 lbs)
  • Backups
  • DeMarcus Love #73 (25, 6'4" 315 lbs)
  • Troy Kropog #78 (26, 6'6" 308 lbs)
  • Joe Berger #61 (31, 6'5" 305 lbs)
  • Seth Olsen #72 (27, 6'5" 305 lbs)
  • Brandon Keith #79 (28, 6'5" 335 lbs)
It is tough to give a team that helped Peterson come off of an ACL tear to run for 2000 yards not the best offensive line in your division.  The other thing is that they have had the most consistent tackles in the division.  Kalil is going to be there for quite some time after a great first season, top tackle taken last year.  Loadholt has been up there for 4 seasons.  This is the only offensive line in the division that isn't getting any retooling from last year, which is probably not the best sign for all of us.  I mean, even saying that the Packers are 2nd in the division seems a little crazy given the offensive line problems we have had in the last few years and how often Rodgers gets hit.  Let's take a look at the updated points overall now that the offense is complete, and next time I'll start with the defensive line.

1.  Detroit Lions-15
2.  Green Bay Packers-13
3.  Minnesota Vikings-12
4.  Chicago Bears-9

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