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How do Jermichael Finley's measurables compare to other tight ends?
This section compares his draft workout metrics with players at the same position. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that metric and it would be considered average.
Finley suffered a spinal cord contusion in Week 7 last year and underwent season-ending spinal fusion surgery. It is uncertain if he will play in 2014. A free agent, Finley failed a physical with the Seahawks in March, and at press time he still had not been medically cleared to play. The Packers have not ruled out the possibility of Finley returning, though they added tight-end depth in the draft by selecting Richard Rodgers in the third round.
Finley took a step back last year, averaging only 7.7 YPT and scoring only twice all season. His red-zone looks also dropped from 18 in 2011 to 11 last season, and his targets inside the 10 went from 10 to a mere three as Aaron Rodgers' new favorite goal-line target became James Jones (20 red-zone targets, nine inside the 10).
Finley's skill set has changed little since he entered the league in 2008 – he has good speed and quickness for his size but hands made of stone (seven drops last year, 11 in 2011). Nonetheless, the Packers re-signed him to a two-year deal, and the departure of Greg Jennings could open some more targets. Finley's only 26, and playing with Rodgers gives him a considerable amount of upside once the upper-tier tight ends are off the board.
While Finley stayed healthy and played 16 games for the first time in his career, he didn’t come close to fulfilling his owners’ expectations of breaking into the position’s elite. Finley finished with 55 receptions (14th among TE), 767 receiving yards (14th) and eight touchdowns (third) and didn’t surpass 90 receiving yards in any game. And a three-touchdown game against the Bears was a nice Week 3 gift to owners but shows his touchdown total was not a result of consistent scoring. Finley is one of the more athletic tight ends in the league, maneuvering downfield like a wide receiver, able to get open on seam or fly patterns. The problem with Finley is his hands, as his 59.8-percent reception rate, 25th among tight ends, cost his owners valuable fantasy points, thanks to a position-leading 11 drops. With so many talented receivers in the Packers’ system, Finley’s targets figure to be more limited than other tight ends – his 92 targets last season ranked 11th – but if he improves his hands he has the potential to build on last year’s numbers.
One of the first tight ends off the board last season, Finley had his season cut short by a knee injury in Week 5. Until that point Finley looked like he was going to earn his lofty draft slot with 21 catches for 301 yards in the first four weeks. Finley has resumed running routes, which means he’s already cutting on the surgically repaired knee, and declared in May that it felt “brand new.” A lean 6-5, 240, Finley creates matchup problems by using his speed and quickness on linebackers and his size on smaller corners. With Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback and no other reliable red-zone receiver on the roster, Finley has the upside to finish as the league’s top tight end, but he’ll have to prove he can stay healthy, as he missed three games with an ankle injury in 2009 as well.
Some will hang the sleeper label on the
freakishly athletic Finley this offseason, but the
truth is everyone remembers him tearing apart
Arizona in the NFC wild card game last year
with six catches for 159 yards — meaning he
won’t come cheap. Finley totaled 676 receiving
yards and five touchdowns last year in basically
10 games. He was targeted only once in
the season opener and didn’t see one ball
thrown his way in Week 3; in Week 7, he
injured his knee in the first quarter and then
missed the next three games. Once he returned,
he vaulted over fellow tight end Donald Lee
and finished the regular season with 416
receiving yards and four touchdowns in the
final seven games, averaging more than seven
targets per game.
Finley has great breakaway speed for a tight
end, which he displayed on a 62-yard touchdown
last season (he also had a 37-yard gain
among his nine catches of 20-plus yards). His
9.5 yards per target was second to only
Antonio Gates’ 10.6. And he’s a solid red-zone
target, finishing with 17 targets inside the 20
and eight inside the 10. Coach Mike McCarthy
has already anointed Finley the starter over
Lee for this season. At press time, Finley’s
injured knee still isn’t 100 percent healthy, but
he has plenty of time to get in shape, so it’s not
much of an issue.
Finley caught just six passes as a rookie, but he's been one of the most improved players in offseason practice and figures to push Donald Lee for the starting tight end role in training camp. He boasts tremendous athleticism for the tight end position and could emerge as a fantasy sleeper if he wins the job.
With Donald Lee the only experienced tight end on Green Bay's roster, Finley will have a chance to win the No. 2 role at the position. It's tough to see him providing much production unless Lee gets hurt.