State of the Packers: TEs

Jermichael Finley is on course to become the best tight end in the NFL, but who will be his backups? Rookie fifth-round pick Andrew Quarless will challenge the veteran duo of Donald Lee and Spencer Havner. Green Bay's tight ends scored 10 TDs last year.

Our State of the Packers series continues with the tight ends.


Starter: Jermichael Finley. Veteran backups: Donald Lee, Spencer Havner, Tom Crabtree. Rookies: Andrew Quarless.

The big picture

With third-year pro Jermichael Finley, the Packers have potentially the best tight end in the NFL. Yes, the best in the NFL. After returning from a sprained knee, Finley caught 37 passes over the final seven games. Even while sharing snaps with Donald Lee, only Dallas' Jason Witten (45) and Atlanta's Tony Gonzalez (39) caught more passes among tight ends during that stretch. He was unstoppable at times, with nine catches against Pittsburgh, seven catches against San Francisco and Baltimore, and a phenomenal six catches for 159 yards in the playoff loss against Arizona. Among the leading pass-catching tight ends, Finley ranked fourth by catching 77.5 percent of the passes thrown his way. Finley, with his ability to make a leaping catch and gain extra yards after the catch, finished with 55 passes for 676 yards and five touchdowns — just one reception shy of Paul Coffman's team record.

All from a player who turned the ripe old age of 23 in March and, apparently, is ready to fully dedicate himself to the game. If his professionalism matches his talent, he'll be practically unstoppable.

Wide receivers
Running backs
Defensive ends
Nose tackles
Inside linebackers
Outside linebackers
With Lee (37 catches, 260 yards and one touchdown) and Spencer Havner (seven catches, 112 yards and four touchdowns), the Packers got a combined 132 receptions and 10 touchdowns from their three tight ends. Nonethless, they spent a fifth-round pick on talented Andrew Quarless.

Quarless' misdeeds off the field early in his career cost him in the draft. His 41 receptions as a senior and 87 receptions for his career are records among Penn State's tight ends. At 6-foot-4 and 254 pounds with 4.57-seconds speed in the 40, he potentially gives the Packers a receiving-blocking option.

But it's not a given he beats out the veterans.

Lee had a disappointing season, with two dropped passes in the end zone and merely 7.0 yards per reception. His numbers have fallen off a cliff since he caught 48 passes for 575 yards (12.0 average) and six touchdowns in 2007, with 76 catches, a 7.4 average and six touchdowns in the last two seasons combined. But he's a steady veteran presence in a position group of youngsters.

Between Havner and Lee, Havner probably has the inside track of keeping his roster spot. The 27-year-old converted linebacker turned into at least an adequate blocker, and his athleticism made him a matchup problem when he split out wide. Of his touchdowns, four came against three NFC playoff teams: Minnesota, Dallas and Arizona. Plus, he's one of the team's top special-teams players, with his 20 tackles ranking third on the team.

Tom Crabtree (6-4, 245), who was signed to the practice squad on Dec. 1, was an undrafted rookie from Miami (Ohio) last year. He spent some time on the Chiefs' practice squad. He was not a productive receiver (40 catches, 330 yards, two touchdowns in four seasons) and doesn't seem to have the bulk to make it as a blocker.

Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

Packer Report Top Stories