Packers Annual Checkup: TE Tom Crabtree

Today is the ninth day of FOX Sports Wisconsin Packers writer Paul Imig’s offseason evaluations of every player on Green Bay’s roster. Click here for all of Paul’s previous evaluations and come back every day through mid-March for Paul’s in-depth film and statistical analysis. Coming up soon:

Wednesday, Feb. 6: K Mason Crosby
Thursday, Feb. 7: DL Mike Daniels
Friday, Feb. 8: C Evan Dietrich-Smith

Saturday, Feb. 9: TE Jermichael Finley
Sunday, Feb. 10: LB Robert Francois
Monday, Feb. 11: RB Ryan Grant


Season stats: 16 games (14 regular season, two postseason); nine catches, 213 yards, three touchdowns; two dropped passes, three tackles broken or avoided; one QB sack allowed as pass-blocker

Best game: Week 9 win over Arizona (two targets, one catch, 72 yards, one touchdown; minus-0.1 PFF rating)

Worst game: Week 5 loss at Indianapolis (one catch, six yards; one QB sack allowed; minus-3.5 PFF rating) season rating: Minus-6.7 (second-worst on Packers offense; worst among Packers tight ends)

Expectations at the start of the season: Low

Expectations were … Met

Looking live: Crabtree is never going to be expected to catch a lot of passes. However, he had several highlight plays this season, including a 27-yard fake field-goal touchdown reception in Week 2 that was tossed to him from holder Tim Masthay. On that play, Crabtree benefited from perfect blocking and a play-call by coach Mike McCarthy that the Chicago Bears clearly weren’t expecting. This allowed Crabtree to run untouched into the end zone. Crabtree had another memorable play when he caught a 16-yard pass in Week 9 and ran it another 56 yards for a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals. With Andrew Quarless unable to play at all this season as he recovered from a knee injury, Crabtree played 45 more snaps this year than he did in 2011.

Upon further review: Crabtree is on the Packers mostly to be a productive run-blocker. This season, he was on the field to run block for 227 snaps, compared to only 107 snaps as a route runner and just 53 snaps as a pass-blocker. The problem is that, for the second consecutive year, Crabtree hasn’t graded out very well in run-blocking. In each of the past two seasons, has listed Crabtree as by far Green Bay’s worst tight end in run-blocking situations. Though Jermichael Finley isn’t a great run-blocker, he graded out better than Crabtree in 2011 and 2012 while playing a very similar number of snaps in that role. Tight end D.J. Williams was the best among the position group this season in blocking on run plays. Crabtree had his memorable touchdowns this season, but he didn’t perform at a very high level in the areas that he’s expected to play his best.

Overall 2012 grade: C-minus

Status for 2013: 80 percent chance of being on the Packers’ Week 1 roster next season. Crabtree is a restricted free agent, so it’s possible that Green Bay could decide to part ways with him. The other aspect to Crabtree being back with the Packers is the number of quality tight ends on the roster. Finley is due a lot of money in 2013 but performed well enough to likely be brought back to finish off his two-year contract. Quarless will return to the field after his lost season following major knee surgery. Williams is undersized but is Green Bay’s best blocking tight end and showed a solid pass-catching ability in college that’s yet to be realized in the NFL. Plus, backup tight end Ryan Taylor will almost certainly be on the roster. That could make Crabtree the odd man out, especially with the Packers having a pretty good understanding of what his ceiling is as a player.

Follow Paul Imig on Twitter.