Draft Exclusive: Tight End Workout

In our 33rd draft exclusive, we caught up with an 'underrated' tight end the Packers worked out on Monday. Virginia's Joe Torchia, one of the best prep tight ends in the nation, is healthy after missing most of his senior season with a torn labrum.

The official NFL scouting report on Virginia tight end Joe Torchia leads off with these four words: "A vastly underrated talent ..."

In what's generally considered a weak draft class of tight ends, Torchia is a potential diamond in the rough. The Packers obviously think that way. Virginia had planned a private workout on Monday for ace cornerback Ras-I Dowling, who missed the school's pro day with an injured hamstring, but a Packers scout wanted to put Torchia through his paces while he was there.

"It went great," Torchia told Packer Report on Thursday. "I thought I was able to prove to them that I am healthy and that I can run out and outstretch for balls and really try to make an impact for them."

The 6-foot-5, 258-pound Torchia was one of the nation's top tight ends coming out of Queen of Peace High School in Cold Spring, N.Y. Virginia is something of a tight ends factory, with five drafted in the last 10 years, highlighted by Pittsburgh's Heath Miller.

Injuries and changes in offensive schemes, however, sunk his once-promising career.

He injured a shoulder and missed five games in 2008. In 2009, then-coach Al Groh decided to follow the college trend and install a spread offense, a move that limited Torchia's role on offense to mainly being a blocker.

With a new coaching staff in 2010 and a move back to a pro-style offense, Torchia's senior season got off to the kind of rousing start that made scouts take notice. In the second game, Torchia caught five passes for 73 yards against USC, earning ACC lineman-of-the-week accolades for his efforts. In four games, he caught nine passes for 113 yards — compared to a combined 15 catches in his first three seasons. In that fourth game, however, Torchia tore his labrum while picking up a blitzer in pass protection.

"It was pretty frustrating," he said. "I thought I got it fixed the year before (after the 2009 season) and, unfortunately, structurally the problem was not addressed and it tore. It was frustrating because you go through all the time rehabbing and lifting and workouts with teammates to really get back so you can produce for your team and help them win."

Renowned surgeon James Andrews performed the surgery on Oct. 13. A few days later, with his arm in a sling, Torchia was on the sideline to support his teammates.

"If I couldn't get out there physically for my teammates, I was going to do it morally," he said.

In this draft, in which most of the tight ends are either really good blockers or really good receivers, Torchia is strong in both phases — though he said run blocking is his greatest asset. As a receiver, he is a big target and he doesn't run badly — he was timed in 4.84 on campus. He's the kind of intelligent, high-character, team-first player that could push Andrew Quarless and Tom Crabtree for a roster spot if drafted or signed by the Packers.

"I've been going pretty strong now for about two months now, with really no restrictions in working out," Torchia said. "I'm just get excited to get out there and play."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.

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