Combine Interview Could Be Top Tight End

The Packers have a potential need for a front-line tight end with Jermichael F'inley's contract situation. The Packers seem to be doing a lot of homework at the position, including a formal interview with perhaps the best tight end in the draft. Get the scoop in our latest draft exclusive.

The Green Bay Packers have a potential long-term need as a front-line tight end, with veteran Jermichael Finley having a lofty $8.25 million cap tag as he enters the final season of a two-year contract.

The Packers had formal interviews with at least two tight ends at the Scouting Combine, including with consensus first-team All-American Zach Ertz of Stanford, according to a source.

Ertz, who entered the draft following his redshirt junior season, is in the running to be the first tight end off the board with Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert, Rice's Vance McDonald and San Diego State's Gavin Escobar rounding out the top tier at the position.

Ertz was the first unanimous All-American tight end since Heath Miller in 2004. He tallied 69 catches for 898 yards (13.0 average) and six touchdowns in 2012, with the first two figures leading the way among FCS tight ends.

The 6-foot-5, 249-pounder is more than just a pass-catcher. While he spent plenty of time flexed out wide in the formation, he also proved a quality in-line blocker to fuel Stepfan Taylor's big season on the ground.

"Jason Witten is somebody that I've kind of look towards the past couple of years," Ertz said. "He truly is a complete tight end — a very good run blocker and a very good pass catcher. I think that's something that I kind of try and emulate."

Ertz flashed a nice combination of speed and strength at the Combine, with a 4.76 in the 40 and 24 reps on the bench press. While he's not a game-breaker, he's the type of potential every-situation tight end the Packers haven't had in years.

"I think I can do both, to be honest," Ertz said. "At Stanford, we were a run-first offense. We started with the power running game and I took a lot of pride in my run blocking. As a receiver, that stuff kind of came more naturally but I look forward to doing both."

Even if Finley is in the Packers' long-term plans, Ertz could provide a solution to an offense that might be a bit underpowered at receiver, with Greg Jennings hitting free agency and leaving only Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb as proven producers. Packers coach Mike McCarthy's history with tight ends is well-documented, and Green Bay could use Finley even more as a flexed-out receiver while letting Ertz handle the intermediate routes as a traditional tight end.

"I think seeing what all those tight ends do and all those things they've been doing, it is very neat," Ertz said. "You see Jimmy Graham out there against corners all the time and just seeing what he does is very impressive. It's something that I just hope I can do at that same level."

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

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