Finley’s Place Among Best Tight Ends

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Jermichael Finley

I read an interesting comment pertaining to Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley a couple weeks ago. Basically, a scout said Finley wasn’t among the top 10 tight ends in the league.

His argument was that Finley wasn’t a complete player in both facets of the tight end’s game — blocking and receiving — and that he dropped too many balls (11 in 2011).

“The best tight ends in the league are complete — Jason Witten, Heath Miller and Vernon Davis can block as well as they catch,” one pro talent evaluator told PFW. “(Patriots TE Rob) Gronkowski belongs in the same class. Even Jimmy Graham has shown a lot of promise as a blocker. And as long as (Tony) Gonzalez and (Antonio) Gates are playing, they will still be near the top of the list as receiving tight ends. Others include Jermaine Gresham, Dustin Keller, Greg Olsen, Kellen Winslow, even Aaron Hernandez.

“Finley would fall more in that group in the 10-15 range.”

The reason this comes up, of course, is because Finley will be a free agent this offseason and is looking to cash in with a big contract. While it’s not totally off base, that evaluation is a pretty tough pill to swallow if you’re Finley or the Packers.

We all know there’s a downside to having Finley on the roster. He drops too many passes and complains when he feels he isn’t getting the ball thrown his way enough. Despite that, we all know he’s a huge matchup problem for opposing defenses and he did set career highs with 767 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011.

So, do 10-15 other tight ends really deserve to be ranked above Finley as this scout suggested? That’s doubtful, but unless he reaches his full potential, he’s clearly not in the top five. Consider: Finley was beaten out for the Pro Bowl by Graham, who led all tight ends in catches, and Gonzalez, who had better numbers than Finley even though he’s like, 85 years old.

Here’s our breakdown and where Finley fits.

  1. Rob Gronkowski (Patriots): 90 catches, 1,327 yards, 17 TDs — The 17 TDs are an NFL record for a tight end. This guy is what Finley should be.
  2. Jimmy Graham (Saints): 99 catches, 1,310 yards, 11 TDs — The number of catches tells you he doesn’t drop balls. It’s even more impressive that he’s Drew Brees No. 1 target over Marques Colston.
  3. Antonio Gates (Chargers): 64 catches, 778 yards, 7 TDs — He’s still San Diego’s best receiver. He put up these numbers despite missing three games in 2011.
  4. Jason Witten (Cowboys): 79 catches, 942 yards, 5 TDs — Has more than 900 yards each of the past five seasons and went over 1,000 in three of those.
  5. Tony Gonzalez (Falcons): 80 catches, 875 yards, 7 TDs — Yeah, he’s old, but he’s one of the most complete tight ends in the game, if not of all time.
  6. Vernon Davis (49ers): 67 catches, 792 yards, 6 TDs — He’s the Niners best receiver by a mile and is a solid blocker in the run game, which is San Francisco’s bread and butter.
  7. Aaron Hernandez (Patriots): 79 catches, 910 yards, 7 TDs — This guy would have had Gronk numbers if Gronk weren’t on the same team. He still put up better numbers than most guys on the list.
  8. Jermichael Finley (Packers): 55 catches, 767 yards, 8 TDs — If only he could hold onto the ball. If you think this is unfair to Finley, tell me who you’d move down.
  9. Jermaine Gresham (Bengals): 56 catches, 596 yards, 6 TDs — You could make an argument to move Gresham higher because he’s a good blocker. There’s a reason he made his first Pro Bowl in 2011.
  10. Heath Miller (Steelers): 51 catches, 631 yards, 2 TDs — He might be the best blocker on the list and he’s sure-handed. The only knock is he doesn’t get into the end zone.

About The Author

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.

17 Comments on "Finley’s Place Among Best Tight Ends"

  1. RodgerDat

    Fuckin ridiculous, we have the best and deepest receiving corp in the league, that’s why he doesn’t have gronk numbers. I got j mike at # 5 ahead of tony gonzalez, jason witten, and aaron hernandez.

  2. geopack

    All you had to do was watch the divisional round. Gronk, Graham and Davis were literally carrying their teams to victory; dominating and doing all the things we believe Finley should have been doing all along. Then the Packer game comes on and we get more disappearing and drops. The contrast was stark and harsh. We all drool over what we think should be, but does not happen. At some point, probably after next year, we’ll accept what it is and stop the drooling.

  3. Richard

    Gronk soy fiesta. Jermichael soy supervalorar.

    Ahead of Jason Witten? You have got to be kidding. This kid is slow and drops passes, even more so when he gets roughed up at the line. The Giants pretty much made him a useless decoy by chipping him a few times.

  4. Peter

    Finley is not even the best TE on his team. I’d argue that Quarless has developed into a good blocking TE and can make all the catches Finley dropped. If he didn’t have such a bad injury I don’t think the pack would have blinked an eye at letting Finley go but now it is a bit more complicated. But I foresee Ted giving him a incentive driven contract and if he doesn’t take it lets him walk and franchise Wells if that deal doesn’t get done.

  5. Richard

    Good point. What’s with all the concern about Finley? If Wells pulls a Cullen Jenkins and gets ushered out strictly because he isnt a “Ted” guy then 2012 becomes a rebuilding season.

  6. Shawn iltarion

    Finley improved as a blocker this season. He scares the crap out of defensive coordinators more than any TE on that list except for Gronk, Graham and Davis.

    He was not known for dropping passes before this last season. Again, that is something that can be cured.

    His main problem is running routes. He relies on his speed and athleticism alone to get open, and if that doesn’t work, he expects his QB to throw him a jump ball, which considering his QB are not likely to be forthcoming.

    In contracts, timing and age mean more than ranking. Obviously, Finley is worth more than Gonzalez, Witten, and Gates because of his age. He is worth more than Davis, Gronk and Graham because his contract is up, and theirs are not.

    The Saints, Eagles, Lions, Giants and 49ers can’t be expected to be any worse next year. The Packers don’t need to lose a weapon of this magnitude. Sign Finley or franchise tag him. Sign Wells. Move forward, not backward, or get lost in the turmoils of a very strong NFC.

    • peter

      But is he willing to run better routes… he is the only guy Rodgers had to call out not once but multiple times and he is quick to throw others under the bus.

      You can have all the talent in the world but that doesn’t mean it will materialize. He is mentally weak and not a team player I’ll take my chances on the young ryan taylor and dj williams both look very promising and hopefully quarless will be back by mid-season as well.

      Plus that open spot could be used to keep donald who mentoring of the young guys is more valuable than anything.

  7. Vijay

    Sign Finley and Wells, draft for defense physicality and pressure and sign a FA based on health of N. Collins. If healthy, draft another safety prospect mid rounds anyway. I like Lavonte David (undersized college OLB = NFL In the box SS), release Peprah.

    done and done

  8. jdriscoll

    since we are throwing out opinions here, swap Finley and Gronkowski and their stats would probably change too, he probably wasn’t 100% healed after knee injury and may be quicker next season…anyone comparing any other Packer TE’s to Finley ?? no

  9. Richard

    Also, no matter how much Rodgers denies it, there is pressure to get him the ball to shut him up which wastes valuable time, especially with the drops. I wonder if it wasn’t a coincidence the team won 4 playoff games without him.

  10. RodgerDat

    Are you really referring to Finley as SLOW? You dont know WTF you are talking about if you really believe jermichael is slow. Its hilarious how people are so quick to jump off a player’s dick when he’s not white. Just looking for a reason to “hate that nigger.”

    He’s great and the second coming one day. Then he stumbles and makes some mistakes, then its time to lynch him. Fuckin disgusting, racist hypocrites.

  11. Richard

    Jermichael has the slowest 40 time of the five tight ends on the roster. Look it up before calling people racist, or you just end up looking like a tool.

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