Matthew Mulligan is Blocking his way onto the Packers’ Roster

ALLGBP.com All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Matthew Mulligan has shown his blocking ability so far in Packers training camp.

Matthew Mulligan might not charm fans on Twitter, have arms covered in tattoos or take a fake field goal flip all the way to the end zone against the Packers biggest rival. But so far, it looks like the Packers lone veteran free agent signing is filling in nicely for departed fan favorite Tom Crabtree at tight end.

Bob McGinn wrote in Wednesday’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Mulligan has been “solid as a rock” and is close to locking up a roster spot. The journeyman was signed mainly as a blocker, but with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, as long as you have two hands and can take three steps forward without falling over, you might end up eventually becoming part of the passing game.

Crabtree was a durable and scrappy tight end who understood his role and always lined up where he was supposed to. Players like that have value — A.J. Hawk has become a rich man by being that type of player for the Packers on defense. Crabtree and Hawk are also the types of players where you set a value on how much you’re willing to pay them and you don’t exceed that value under any circumstances.

This offseason, the Packers determined Hawk wasn’t worth what he was making, so they told him to take a pay cut or else. Hawks said yes and remains a Packer.

Crabree was a free agent and felt he was worth more than what the Packers were offering (which was something around the league minimum). The Buccaneers agreed with Crabtree, offered him closer to what he thought he deserved, and Crabtree is now trying to build the same rapport with all the blue-hair retirees in Florida that he had with the cheeseheads in Wisconsin.

What does all of this have to do with Mulligan? Even though Crabtree had value, the Packers felt they could find a better player at a more team-friendly price. It’s still early, but it looks like they might have found that player in Mulligan (making $820,000 on a one-year deal).

Pro Football Focus gave Mulligan a 4.9 run blocking rating last season and a 6.5 in 2011. Crabtree was a -7.7 as a run blocker last season and a -8.4 in 2011. Obviously, Pro Football Focus metrics aren’t gospel, but that’s quite the difference. If you believe the reports from training camp, Mulligan is backing up those metrics by passing the eye test as well.

Mulligan is also 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, about 30 pounds heavier than Crabtree.

I’d like to see Don Barclay and Mulligan paving the way for Eddie Lacy on the right side of the line with the Packers leading by four points and trying to kill clock in the fourth quarter.

As much as I’ll miss Crabtree for what he brought both on and off the field, it looks like Mulligan is doing exactly what the Packers signed him to do so far. If he keeps it up, chalk up another clever under-the-radar roster move for Ted Thompson.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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  • Savage57

    Buzz from the GBP this pre-season.

    “We are going to run the ball – you can put it in all capital letters”.

    Makes sense to play with six offensive linemen.

  • Archie

    On the one hand, the Packers should have had a better running game the last couple of years. But we always heard who needs a running game when you have the best passing game in the NFL in the modern era. Well, I never believed it. And NFL defenses proved it to us down the strecth in 2011 and throughout 2012. TT/MM finally got the message.

    Jeff Saturday was a mini-disaster last year but Don Barclay was just the opposite. And now Bakhtiari. And Van Roten last year and Taylor this year. And Tretter, Bulaga and Sherrod in the wings for next year. Now load up at RB with Eddie Lacy and Dujuan Harris to run behind those boys. Oh, and the acquisition of Mike Mulligan, a TE who blocks like a G. So now, we have a running game. of course, until we prove it on the field, it’s only on paper.

    I also think TT has finally complemented 52 with some pass rush help. Wilson, Pickett and Raji may be good on 1st down or any run down, but they ain’t gonna get it done on a passing down. Enter Datone Jones, Mike Daniels, Mike O’Neal and Nick Perry. Those four + Claymaker + Brad Jones should be able to give us a real pass rush as well as some cover ability. If the secondary can do its job, we are looking at a balanced team for the first time in a long time.

    • Stroh

      Couldn’t agree more. Love how the team is shaping up! My only concern is the OL due mostly to injuries you mentioned and at WR due to Nelson bring out and Cobb bothered.

  • http://www.lyrictrumpet.com Bearmeat

    This team will be better at running the ball this year. I wasn’t buying it until I read ARod’s comments on less reps in practice: “What’s good for the team isn’t necessarily good for (my) stats.”

    It looks like Mulligan fits right in with that. Awesome.

  • White92

    I love that he has 85.

    That is all.

  • Mojo

    Mulligan is really an offensive lineman/TE hybrid, who is actually closer to the lineman part. At 6’4″ 275 he could easily get to o-lineman size if he wanted to. But instead he looks fairly chiseled, someone who should more than hold is own against LB’s. And his PFF grade seems to bear that out. Wouldn’t mind him in the backfield as the RB’s lead blocker.

    Now if the Packers can teach him to leak out to the open spots as a receiver. Doesn’t have much speed though.

  • Mojo

    The more I think about it, having Mulligan at TE is almost like having a tackle-eligible (with better hands than most lineman) every time he’s in the game. I’m curious as to how good a blocker is he. Could he hold-off the fatties who prowl in the interior or would he get bowled over.

    Think about what an advantage it would be to have basically 6 o-lineman blocking, one of which can peal-off and become a receiver. He should be able to create more time for ARod and if that doesn’t work, be available for dump-offs.

    It would seem such a player would have decent value to their team, so it’s curious to me why the Rams and Jets seem to have little use for him.

  • DuJuanaman

    Could be a great complement to JMike!

  • Outis

    How’s our UDFA, Jake Stoneburner doing? I understand that another UDFA, Zach Sudfeld, a Jersey Al’s favorite for this year’s draft, is turning heads at the Patriots’ training camp and is currently the 1st string TE. He’s not noted as a blocking TE, though.

    • steve cheez

      Not too hard to be a #1 when the other two are a cripple and a convict

    • Leo

      All I heard is that Bob McGinn likes him.

  • Two Bears, One Cup

    Crabtree was vastly overrated as a blocker but sloghtly underrated as a receiver. I don’t think he really progressed, either. While worth a vet minimum contract I don’t think he was worth any more than the minimum. Definitely okay with letting him go for these other guys. I never really understood his appeal to so many fans.

    • BradHTX

      I think Crabtree’s appeal was largely A) cool tattoos, B) cool name, and C) engaging personality (that goofy smile on the TEs’ Christmas cards, etc). Nice guy to have around, but agreed — not at more than veteran minimum.

      But I’m excited about Mulligan; I think he could be one of those moves we look back on in a couple years and say, “Yeah… That Ted Thompson is pretty smart.”

    • NorthStarr

      You get a ‘thumbs up’ from me for

      “I never really understood his appeal to so many fans.”

  • BubbaOne

    Sidebar to how well he plays is when rating TT for his Free Agent class this year…he gets a Mulligan.

  • Icebowler

    My only Packers jersey (with no name on the back) is an 85 from the bad old days with a “G” on the sleeve. Greg Jennings was my favorite lately but he went wacko when he “put on the purple”, so I’m rooting for Mulligan now. With Lacy in the backfield, we may be able to score on the ground with third and goal from the three or less. If we can do that a few times it will create a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators.

  • FITZCORE1252

    Pardon me, but, I’m FUCKING jacked!

    Give this offense a ground game… Sky’s the limit.

    J-A-C-K-E-D

    • Stroh

      A running game on offense, thanks mostly to Lacy and a better, more athletic and improving D. I always expect the offense to be great w/ McCarthy and Rodgers, but I really am getting excited about the D.

  • Biggfootz

    Holding off the injury bug, this tm could be unstoppable on paper which only needs to translate to the field. Good coaching should gaurantee that. GB depth at plugging injuries is a relief. Look for much improved lines, run gm, and secondary per d line upgrades uncluding the 3-4 as a unit;(the biggest concerns being a dependable kicking gm and solid returns unit). The O should be able to give the D a rest improving the latter’s stats as a bonus, while the D should be able to get stops giving the ball back to the O more often and in better field position. As a result, the O stats go thru the roof while D stats emerge among the leaders= SB back to back Championships in 13-14.

  • fairlane

    I think mulligan is cool,Lets see howhe does