1. How crowded is the depth chart at tight end?
Richard Rodgers actually is walking into a pretty good situation in Green Bay as far as getting early playing time is concerned. The primary receiving tight end over the past several years in Green Bay, Jermichael Finley, had an expiring contract after last season and suffered an ugly spinal injury mid-season and is still waiting on clearance from doctors. He is not expected back in Green Bay, even if he is cleared medically. Four-year veteran Andrew Quarless is the top option at present, and he's more of a traditional in-line tight end who had a solid end to the 2013 season but still has yet to show that he has the ability to be a top-level starter. Next down are Brandon Bostick (who enters his third year in the NFL and was a wide receiver convert who has lots of untapped athletic potential as a receiver) and second-year pro Jake Stoneburner who primarily worked on special teams. Rodgers should definitely have an opportunity to contribute on special teams and will likely be eased into the offense somewhat over his first year, much as Finley was in 2008.
2. Were there any indications or rumors the Packers were interested in drafting a tight end or Rodgers in particular?
With the depth at the position in doubt, many (ourselves at APC included) felt that the Packers would indeed address the tight end position on day two of the draft. We had Notre Dame's Troy Niklas and Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz identified as possible targets, though I don't think many had Rodgers' name tabbed as someone who they would target in the early rounds.
3. How are Packers fans feeling about drafting Rodgers in the third round?
There was definitely some head-scratching among the Packer faithful, not because of the selection of a tight end in round three but rather at the name. The aforementioned Niklas went one pick before the Packers' selection in round two, and Fiedorowicz was drafted by Houston with the first pick of round three, so the favorite targets were off the board by the time the Packers picked in that round. Once those names were gone, I feel that most Packers fans expected to go in a different direction and instead look for a tight end prospect or two on day three. Rodgers' selection was definitely a surprise, as most fans I talked to expected him to last another round or two at least. Still, he fits a similar athletic mold that Jermichael Finley had (around 6'4", 250) and has similar speed and potential as a receiver.
4. What kind of production or contributions are you expecting from Rodgers to consider him a worthwhile draft pick?
In year one, I just hope he can show a little athleticism as a receiver and show some signs of development and assimilation into the offense while contributing some on special teams. In the long term, I hope to see him become a big red zone and seam target (again, he'll be compared to Finley a lot) and have a few good seasons of 500+ receiving yards. Finley took a ton of heat (in my opinion, too much) for his occasional bouts with drops, so if Rodgers shows good hands, that might be all some Packers fans need to call the pick a success even if he doesn't become a matchup nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators.
5. Do you agree with the decision to draft Rodgers?
If I'm being perfectly honest, there are at least a handful of players who, in the heat of draft day, I felt would have been much better selections for the Packers. Defensive back Pierre Desir is one such player - I felt that his skills and size would have made him an excellent cornerback in the Packers' system, which would prove helpful if Tramon Williams departs after this year as most Packers fans expect. I still feel like Green Bay could have waited a bit and still ended up drafting Rodgers, though. I'm looking forward to seeing him in Green and Gold, I just wonder if they could have added another defensive player in round three and landed Rodgers a round later.
6. You're welcome for Aaron.
I assure you - we're eternally grateful.