Grading the Packers: Tight ends

PackerReport.com's Todd Korth continues his series on grading the Packers, focusing on the team's tight ends.

Bubba Franks: Yuck! The three-time Pro Bowl tight end had great expectations prior to the 2006 season, but instead had his second straight clunker of a season. Franks matched his career low of 25 catches, which he had in 2005, and didn't score a touchdown for the first time in his seven seasons with the Packers.

The epitome of Franks' season may have come on Dec. 21 against the Minnesota Vikings when he fumbled the ball away on the 1-yard line after catching a short pass from Brett Favre. Franks dropped at least eight passes during the season and committed five penalties, the most on offense among non-linemen.

Though he was effective as an extra blocker to protect Favre, the Packers simply need more out of their top tight end. Was it one of those seasons, or has Franks' skills diminished that fast since he signed a $27 million deal prior to the 2005 season, including a $5 million bonus? Franks is scheduled to earn a $1.4 million salary in 2007, leaving the Packers to decide this off-season whether or not to keep the veteran around.
Grade: D

David Martin: Like Robert Ferguson, Martin is injury prone. Martin nursed a sore groin in training camp, then missed five of the final six games of the season with a rib injury that he sustained Nov. 19 against New England.

Martin finished with 21 catches and two touchdowns. During a four-game stretch between Oct. 22 at Miami and Nov. 12 at Minnesota, Martin had 12 catches and two touchdowns, once again teasing the coaching staff and fans with his ability to stretch the field. But, as often has been the case in his six-year career in Green Bay, he has spent too much time in the training room.

Like Franks, the Packers will have to decide if they want to re-sign Martin, who becomes an unrestricted free agent in early March.
Grade: C-

Donald Lee: Like Franks, Lee also struggled to catch the football. He had five drops and finished with just 10 catches and no touchdowns, one season after he had a career-high 33 catches and two touchdowns, tops among Green Bay's tight ends.

Lee is durable. He also didn't miss any games because of injuries for the second straight season and he was second on the team in special teams tackles with 15. But he has to show this off-season a better ability to get open and catch the ball, or he might be looking for a different team to play with next season.
Grade: D

Tory Humphrey: He picked up where he left off after a strong performance in NFL Europe last spring with a solid training camp. But he was unable to beat out Lee for the third tight end spot and wound up playing in just six games with no receptions.

Humphrey's season came to an end on Nov. 12 when he sustained a torn hamstring against the Vikings.
Grade: D

Zac Alcorn: The rookie free agent was promoted from the team's practice squad and played in six of the last seven games, mainly on special teams. He did not have any receptions, but showed an ability to block well.

Alcorn may be a strong candidate to play in NFL Europe and get more game experience this spring.
Grade: C


Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.


Packer Report Top Stories