Name: Eric Lair.
Position: Tight end.
Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 238 pounds.
40 time: 4.60.
Scout Dave-Te' Thomas' grade: 4.8.
Career highlights: After playing mostly special teams his first two seasons, Lair had a breakout junior season with 39 catches for 526 yards and two touchdowns. He had back-to-back games of nine catches against Northern Illinois and two touchdowns against Northwestern. Several changes within the program led to Lair starting only three games and catching just 11 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown as a senior.
The Green Bay Packers kept five tight ends on their roster last season. That didn't scare off Eric Lair, an undrafted free agent from Minnesota.
"I have no problem with that," Lair told Packer Report last week. "It's competition. That's what I live for. That's what football's all about."
Lair was one of the bright spots in 2010 for the Golden Gophers, who fired coach Tim Brewster at midseason and finished 3-9 under interim coach Jeff Horton. Lair slumped to 11 catches as a senior under circumstances mostly out of his control. Prolific Gophers quarterback Adam Weber graduated and joined the Denver Broncos. Moreover, coach Jerry Kill's offense features a running quarterback, with MarQueis Gray leading the team in rushing but completing just 50.7 percent of his passes. For the season, the Gophers completed 12.2 passes per game and only one player caught more than 16 passes — not exactly a great formula for an athletic pass-catcher like Lair.
Lair was not invited to the Scouting Combine, which put the onus on him to excel at the Gophers' pro day. Lair did just that, running his 40-yard dash in 4.60 seconds.
"That was a big day and it turned a lot of heads for me because I had fallen off the radar a little bit with not so much production last year," he said.
Knowing what was at stake, Lair said he was shaking at the starting line. Turns out he overcame his nerves just fine: If he had run that 4.60 at the Scouting Combine, he would have ranked third among the tight ends.
"I was nervous about the (first) 10 (yards)," Lair said. "My trainer kept stressing the 10, kept stressing the 10. You get through the 10 and that's when the speed comes out. I still didn't do so well on my 10 and I probably could have run faster. Yeah, I was shaking a little bit and thinking about it too much."
At his size, Lair projects to an on-the-move tight end, at his best when put in multiple spots like Green Bay does with Jermichael Finley. Lair, whose only predraft visit or workout was a workout with the Texans, is arriving in Green Bay on Thursday and will be on the field for the start of the rookie camp on Friday.
"It hasn't sunk in yet," Lair said. "It probably won't sink in until I get there and I'm out there on the field playing."
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.