Packers 2019 roster predictions: Jimmy Graham again headlines Green Bay tight ends

Since the conclusion of the 2018 season, the Green Bay Packers’ roster has changed significantly. A large group of free agents, draft picks, and undrafted rookies will come to training camp to challenge for roster spots and roles on the team’s 53-man roster. Over the next two weeks, Acme Packing Company will break down the roster position by position and reveal our compiled predictions for the 53-man roster.

The arrival of head coach Matt LaFleur means a heavier emphasis on tight end than in the Packers’ recent past even if most of the personnel remains intact from a season ago. The team will likely continue turning over the position in coming years, but expect some familiar faces to see the majority of the action until that process unfolds.

Starter: Jimmy Graham

For whatever disappointment the Packers felt with Jimmy Graham’s 2018 season, they felt adequately confident in his ability to bounce back within a new offense. Graham has never blocked well (or, at times, at all) and his speed has abandoned him as he approaches his 33rd birthday, but he remains an incredibly long target who knows how to work the seams and dominate near the goal line. Having two healthy thumbs again should also aid his cause.

Backups: Marcedes Lewis, Jace Sternberger, Robert Tonyan Jr.

The Packers probably don’t yet know how they’ll divvy up the snaps between their reserve tight ends, but at least one should receive plenty of work given LaFleur’s penchant for 12 personnel (one back, two tight ends). Marcedes Lewis seems the best equipped to handle the responsibilities of the Y tight end, but Robert Tonyan could factor into that discussion if his blocking has improved. Jace Sternberger probably needs a year or so to adjust to NFL defenses, though his workload could increase as the season progresses.

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Released: Evan Baylis, Pharoah McKever

With four tight ends already on the roster, the Packers simply don’t have room for either of their developmental fliers. Evan Baylis spent time on the team’s practice squad and could return there next season. Pharoah McKever would probably have to outperform him for the spot, if one indeed exists.

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