Tight End: Best, Sleeper, Overrated

The scouts tell you about the cream-of-the-crop, under-the-radar and overhyped players at the position. The sleeper is Nevada's Zach Sudfeld, a superb blocker who had a big pass-catching season in 2012.

Here is a closer look at the tight ends, compiled from conversations with scouts and the NFL's longtime lead scout, Dave-Te' Thomas.

Best in class

Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame (6-6, 250): Won the Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end. A year after leading the nation's tight ends with 67 receptions, Eifert hauled in 50 balls for 685 yards and four touchdowns in 2012, catching 59.6 percent of the passes thrown his way. He leaves Notre Dame was the most productive tight end in school history with 140 receptions and 1,840 yards. "He's the best tight end in the draft and it's not even close," a scout said. "You don't have to worry about him, though, because he's not getting to you guys." Ran 4.68 at Combine with 22 reps on the bench but had third-smallest hands of tight ends there. Added another scout: "If Eifert's sitting there at 22 (for Cincinnati), they're taking him, and I don't think he gets past the Giants (at 19). Now, I don't think you guys would blink about taking Eifert, just knowing what I know about Ted (Thompson) because you're talking about a character guy — smart and all of that. Now you have a reliable inside safety valve for Aaron (Rodgers). You've got a guy who's playing in the elements, played in the snow and sleet. (Crap), you've got a ready-made guy who can really impact the game in similar fashion as Kyle Rudolph." Asked if the "reliable" comment was a rip on Jermichael Finley, the scout laughed and said, "I'm just trying to throw you a softball, man."


Michael Williams, Alabama (6-6, 278): Caught 24 passes for 183 yards and a career-high four touchdowns, including one in the championship game, as a senior. However, he ran a plodding 5.19 in the 40-yard dash with a miniscule 25.5-inch vertical and just 11 reps on the bench. Didn't catch it well at the Senior Bowl, either. "I like him as a blocker," a scout said. "He was a real key for all of those running backs the past few years. But then he puts up just (11) on the bench and you wonder if he can do it against the big boys he's going to line up against."


Zach Sudfeld, Nevada (6-7, 253): Sudfeld's a one-year wonder. He redshirted in 2007 and sat out all of 2008 and all but one game of 2011 with injuries. Given a sixth year by the NCAA, Colin Kaepernick's former roommate emerged as a hot prospect. He caught 45 passes for 598 yards and eight touchdowns, hauling in 68 percent of the passes thrown his way. Ran 4.78 at pro day with 37-inch vertical. "Best blocker, hands down, Zach Sudfeld," Thomas said. "He's a great athlete. As far as a lead blocker, there's not a better lead blocker in this thing. Nineteen freaking touchdown-resulting blocks this year. The second-best was nine, and that was (Ryan) Otten. When I'm looking at a guy and I'm going to use him in motion or in a two tight end situation, I want a guy that can go out there and play fullback for me, also, and that's what Sudfeld brings to the table."

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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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