As everyone continues to wait and watch for news on the football future of Jermichael Finley, the Green Bay Packers are facing a point where they will soon have to make a decision at the tight end position.
Drafting a tight end in the upcoming NFL Draft seems like a foregone conclusion for the Packers, but they’d be wise to take a long hard look at a player currently on their roster before taking a tight end too high.
That player is not named Andrew Quarless either, though he showed some promise late last season after finally getting healthy from a 2011 knee injury.
No, the dark horse to watch is Brandon Bostick. He saw action in 11 games in 2013 and had seven catches for 120 yards with one touchdown and three dropped passes. Those three drops all came in the Week 12 tie against the Minnesota Vikings, however. It wasn’t an overwhelming performance, but Bostick showed enough that should warrant at a least a shot at the starting job in training camp.
The undrafted Bostick beat out former fifth round pick D.J Williams and veteran Matthew Mulligan last year in camp and had shown some flashes in practice. Bostick played wide receiver for small Newberry College and the Packers knew transitioning him to tight end would take some time.
By making the roster in 2013, Bostick must have shown he was making significant progress. During the regular season, Bostick saw action in 11 games and scored his first NFL touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Scott Tolzien.
Looking at 2014 and beyond, Bostick could be the long term answer at tight end for Green Bay. He plays in a similar manner to Finley and having a tight end with that kind of ability does wonders for the Packers’ offense. While Finley never put up “huge” numbers for the Packers, his presence on the field alone affected how teams would attack the Green Bay offense.
By inserting Bostick, the Packers would have to do little tweaking to their style of offense. There are going to be growing pains, but the reward in this case outweighs the risk. It would also give Aaron Rodgers one more weapon in the passing game.
He also has some room to grow. He needs to improve his blocking, especially with the new emphasis on the running game with Eddie Lacy and holes on the offensive line. However the same goes for all the tight ends on the roster.
This isn’t to say the Packers won’t or shouldn’t pursue other options. Quarless came on late last year, however there are still lingering doubts about his health. He is also basically the same size as Bostick but in an older body that also had a major knee injury. He too needs to improve his blocking to be more effective.
Green Bay could also take a tight end early in the draft but with big holes still on defense as well as at center, tight end probably won’t be a priority until the later rounds.
General manager Ted Thompson always likes to see his own guys male leaps from year to year. Bostick’s performance last year, combined with his natural athletic ability, gives him a chance to be one of those players in 2014. He will face competition at the position, but that should only make him better.
There is always one or two dark horses that come out of training camp each year. This year, look for it to be Bostick.
The search for the next Jermichael Finley may be over and that player may already be on the Green Bay roster.——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke