Jace Sternberger faces an uphill battle to win the starting job in his first season, but I’m here to tell you he should be the starter from day one.
It doesn’t get much better for a one-year transfer than Jace Sternberger’s impact on Texas A&M football in his only season in Aggieland. We’ve mentioned it ad nauseam at this point, but it must be mentioned given it rarely happens for tight ends: Sternberger led the entire team in catches, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and yards per catch.
He was a semi-finalist for the John Mackey award and a consensus First Team All American. He rejuvenated a position that was long dormant in College Station, and skyrocketed his professional football prospects in the process.
It was enough for the Green Bay Packers to select Sternberger with the No. 75 overall pick in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Concerns about his run blocking ability may have shied teams away from selecting him earlier, but he couldn’t ask for a better quarterback to be catching passes from than Aaron Rodgers.
If we were calling the shots, he would be catching those as the starter from day one.
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For one, Jace had the highest receiving grade of any tight end in the class, according to Pro Football Focus. He didn’t test as well as others at the NFL Combine, either, but that shouldn’t deter his new team from using him. He is like a productive scorer in basketball: when you need him, he’ll get buckets (or, catch passes…you get it).
Jimmy Graham, the incumbent starter for the Packers, had just an 87.2 QB rating when targeted, which ranked 33rd among tight ends with at least 30 targets. He used to be a terrific option for the Saints but those days are long behind him. Injuries have taken their tole on a one-feared weapon.
Pro Football Focus graded him at just a 59.4 overall in the 2018 season and he is one of the worst run blocking tight ends in the game. He often doesn’t give 100 percent effort which is a good portion of the battle in run blocking. Jace, while by far one of the best run blocking tight ends in the draft, was always willing. He bulked up in the offseason in an effort to improve this aspect of his game.
The Packers would get more out of Jace than they have out of Graham so far. This experiment was a failure, and their willingness to draft Jace in the third round is evidence they’re ready to move forward. Why wait?