GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers claimed tight end Eli Wolf off waivers from the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday.
Wolf spent four years at the University of Tennessee before transferring to Georgia for the 2019 season. He caught 13 passes for 194 yards (14.9 average) and one touchdown for the Bulldogs and 21 passes for 272 yards for his career.
Wolf went undrafted in 2020 and signed with Baltimore but failed to make the Ravens’ roster during training camp. He spent most of his rookie season on their practice squad. In 2021, Wolf was released during training camp, then spent the second half of the season on the Colts’ practice squad.
Wolf was a walk-on at Tennessee in 2015. That’s where his brother, Ethan, was also a tight end. Eli Wolf toiled for two seasons on his own dime before getting a scholarship. Coach Butch Jones found a unique way to break the news.
The brothers were supposed to square off in a one-on-one drill that Jones calls “The Circle of Life.” Just as they were about to square off in the full-contact drill, Jones blew his whistle, walked between the brothers and awarded Wolf a scholarship. His teammates erupted in celebration.
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“It’s in my nature to always try to bite off a little bit more,” Eli told The Knoxville News about turning down a scholarship at Eastern Michigan to take a chance with the Volunteers. “I shot for a little bit bigger, and obviously Ethan being at Tennessee was a big reason I came here.”
Wolf arrived at Tennessee as a 205-pound walk-on.
“I remember sometimes waking up middle of the night, setting an alarm, eating a peanut butter sandwich or something quick, and drinking protein shakes three times a day,” Wolf recalled in September 2019. “The weight room was huge, too. And since I’ve gotten here, the weight room has done nothing but help me put that weight on and keep that weight on.
“It took a while, and it was hard mentally and physically to get there, but I never looked at my weight and said, ‘Hey, if I’m 220, I’m not going to be able to perform’. I always looked at it if I’m 220, I’m still going to be able to do what everybody at 240 can. I may not be as heavy but I’ll be just as strong as every tight end in the country, and I took that as a personal challenge.”
Wolf is the seventh tight end on the roster. It’s a depth chart topped by Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis and Josiah Deguara and includes Tyler Davis, Dominique Dafney and Alize Mack.
Because receiver Allen Lazard hasn’t signed his restricted free-agent tender and with three unsigned draft picks, no corresponding roster move will need to be made.
Too-Early Packers 53-Man Roster Projection
In (2): Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love.
Out (2): Kurt Benkert, Danny Etling.
Watch out for: Etling, if only because he’s the fresh face and took better care of the football in college than Benkert.
Early viewpoint: There’s no reason to keep three quarterbacks on the roster and it’s hard to see any team wanting to trade for Love.
Pictured: Aaron Rodgers (USA Today Sports Images)
In (3): Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Patrick Taylor.
Out (3): Kylin Hill (PUP), B.J. Baylor, Tyler Goodson.
Watch out for: Baylor led the Pac-12 in rushing in 2021. According to Pro Football Focus, he forced 57 missed tackles on 227 carries compared to 38 missed tackles on 256 carries by Goodson. Then again, Goodson caught 31 passes with one drop compared to eight catches and two drops by Baylor.
Early viewpoint: Hill suffered a torn ACL at Arizona on Oct. 28. If he’s not ready, who will be the No. 3 back? Taylor perhaps changed the path of his career during the Week 18 game at Detroit, when he rushed 11 times for 53 yards and one touchdown.
Pictured: Patrick Taylor (USA Today Sports Images)
In (7): Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers, Sammy Watkins, Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Samori Toure.
Out (5): Juwann Winfree, Malik Taylor, Chris Blair, Rico Gafford, Danny Davis.
Watch out for: An ankle injury ruined Blair’s chances of competing for a roster spot last summer, but the Packers thought enough of him to keep him on the practice squad for most of the season.
Early viewpoint: Watkins, the fourth pick of the 2014 draft and the lone veteran addition to a group sent reeling by the trade of Adams, isn’t a lock to make the roster. The development of the rookies will have a role in determining if Watkins is simply Devin Funchess 2.0.
Pictured: Chris Blair (USA Today Sports Images)
In (4): Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Tyler Davis, Josiah Deguara.
Out (3): Dominique Dafney, Alize Mack, Eli Wolf.
Watch out for: Davis played 111 snaps last season. While he caught only four passes, Gutekunst said, “I think we might have something there.” Mack, a seventh-round pick by the Saints in 2019, hasn’t played in an NFL game but looked good at the rookie camp.
Early viewpoint: Tonyan suffered a torn ACL at Arizona on Oct. 28. If he’s not ready for Week 1, he should be close so the guess is he’ll make the opening 53. It’s a quality group of role players that really needs Tonyan to return to his 2020 form.
Pictured: Tyler Davis (USA Today Sports Images)
In (8): LT David Bakhtiari, LG Jon Runyan, C Josh Myers, RG Royce Newman, RT Yosh Nijman, T/G Sean Rhyan, OL Zach Tom, T Rasheed Walker.
Out (8): G/T Elgton Jenkins (PUP), C Jake Hanson, C Michal Menet, C Cole Schneider, G George Moore, T Jahmir Johnson, T Caleb Jones, G/T Cole Van Lanen.
Watch out for: Schneider was a four-year starter at Central Florida who did not allow a sack as a senior. Could he be Lucas Patrick 2.0 as an undrafted free agent who found a home as a versatile interior lineman?
Early viewpoint: The Packers took nine blockers into the regular season last year but the position versatility of Rhyan (at guard and tackle) and Tom (at all five positions) could allow the Packers to save a roster spot for elsewhere. Jenkins suffered a torn ACL on Nov. 21. It’s unlikely he’ll be ready for Week 1 but maybe he’ll be far enough along in his recovery to make the 53.
Pictured: Elgton Jenkins (USA Today Sports Images)
In (5): Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Devonte Wyatt, Jarran Reed, T.J. Slaton.
Out: (4) Jonathan Ford, Jack Heflin, Akial Byers, Hauati Pututau.
Watch out for: It was only a rookie minicamp. And it wasn’t live competition in the trenches. But the 26-year-old Pututau showed his strength by pushing around some of the young offensive linemen.
Early viewpoint: The additions of the veteran Reed and the rookie Wyatt have changed the face of the defensive line. This has the makings of being a really strong unit to join with excellent starters at the other positions.
Pictured: Kenny Clark (USA Today Sports Images)
In (6): Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, Jonathan Garvin, Kingsley Enagbare, Randy Ramsey, Tipa Galeai.
Out (3): La’Darius Hamilton, Kobe Jones, Chauncey Manac.
Watch out for: As a sixth-year super-senior, Manac recorded 10.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for losses for Louisiana in 2021.
Early viewpoint: Enagbare tested horribly at the Scouting Combine (and even worse at pro day) but he looked athletic enough at rookie camp. If you want a rookie-camp overreaction, Enagbare could be a big-time steal. Ramsey, who missed last season with an ankle injury, and Galeai need to be assets on special teams.
Pictured: Kingsley Enagbare (USA Today Sports Images)
In (5): De’Vondre Campbell, Quay Walker, Krys Barnes, Isaiah McDuffie, Ellis Brooks,
Out (3): Ty Summers, Caliph Brice, Ray Wilborn.
Watch out for: Brooks, a productive starter at Penn State, went undrafted but showed some real potential during rookie camp. His instincts seem on-point and he comes with a reputation for being a hitter.
Early viewpoint: At the top of the depth chart, Campbell and Walker could be superb together. At the bottom of the depth chart, holdovers McDuffie and Summers and youngsters Brooks and Wilborn will battle for the last spot or two.
Pictured: Quay Walker (USA Today Sports Images)
In (6): Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas, Eric Stokes, Shemar Jean-Charles, Keisean Nixon, TBA.
Out (3): Kabion Ento, Raleigh Texada, Kiondre Thomas.
Watch out for: Ento seemingly has been in Green Bay for a decade. An undrafted free agent in 2019, he spent 2019 on the practice squad, 2020 on injured reserve and 2021 on the practice squad. A former receiver, his athleticism has stood out on a number of occasions.
Early viewpoint: Maybe Jean-Charles or one of the other young cornerbacks will step to the forefront. But, as it stands now, the depth is perilous. Starting with the trade of Josh Jackson to the Giants for Isaac Yiadom during training camp last summer, Gutekunst tried and tried again to find competent depth. That might be the recipe again.
Pictured: Kabion Ento (USA Today Sports Images)
In (4): Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, Tariq Carpenter, Shawn Davis.
Out (3): Vernon Scott, Innis Gaines, Tre Sterling.
Watch out for: Gaines was a great story last summer, having gone from DoorDash to making a dash for the roster. He lost out to Scott for a roster spot, but Scott spent his second NFL season with his butt glued to the bench.
Early viewpoint: The starting duo is tremendous. The depth? Questionable, at best. Carpenter, a seventh-round pick, has the tools. Davis was a fifth-round pick by Indianapolis in 2021 who played in one game for the Packers. Same as last year, if the Packers want to use Savage in the slot, they need to have a competent player to step in at safety.
Pictured: Innis Gaines (USA Today Sports Images)
In (3): K Mason Crosby, P Pat O’Donnell, LS Steven Wirtel.
Out (2): JJ Molson, Dominik Eberle.
Watch out for: Whoever the Packers sign to challenge Wirtel.
Early viewpoint: Eberle has experience with new special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia and boasts a strong leg, but Crosby is the heavy favorite to keep his job after a poor season.
Pictured: Mason Crosby (USA Today Sports Images)