Stoneburner Sees Silver Lining After Surprise

Jake Stoneburner expected to be drafted. In fact, he said, "Teams were calling me and saying, 'We're going to draft you next.'" Instead, he went undrafted and signed with the Packers after hearing their sales pitch. "I think it's going to end up for the better."

April 27 was the ultimate bittersweet day of Jake Stoneburner.

That Saturday was the third and final day of the draft, and Stoneburner settled in with his girlfriend and two other close friends. He hoped it'd be a short wait before finding out where he'd be drafted.

Instead, the wait went on and on and on.

"To be honest, yeah, I was surprised," he said. "Going into it, I heard fourth round to the end of the draft. Teams were calling me and saying, ‘We're going to draft you next.' Seattle called twice and said, ‘We've got three picks in the sixth round so get ready.' They all went by and my name wasn't called. It was a little disheartening at times. The Packers called in the middle of the sixth round and said, ‘If you don't get drafted – we're not going to draft you because we don't need a tight end – but we would love for you to come in and compete and see what you can do.'" Stoneburner wasn't drafted, but that phone call made it an easy choice when he got to pick his free-agent destination.

"The tight end here is the type of place I need to be at," he said. "As soon as the draft was over, I knew where I wanted to go and chose here. But, yeah, I was a little disappointed that I wasn't drafted. Really, going into it and really thinking you were (going to be drafted), I really, honestly, didn't think I wasn't going to get drafted, but that's how it happened. At the end of the day, I think it's going to end up for the better."

Stoneburner (6-3, 249) is an intriguing prospect with his down-the-field ability. As a senior wide receiver at Coffman High School in Dublin, Ohio, he was runner-up for Ohio's Gatorade Player of the Year after catching 74 passes for 1,267 yards and 15 touchdowns. He transitioned to tight end during his redshirt season at Ohio State, then caught 37 passes for 445 yards and nine touchdowns during his first three seasons.

Then the Buckeyes replaced Jim Tressel with Urban Meyer, with Meyer installing his spread offense. There are no tight ends in that system, so Stoneburner was used as a hybrid H-back/receiver. With Meyer comparing him to one of his star pupils at Florida, Aaron Hernandez, Stoneburner caught 16 passes for 269 yards and four scores, including a 72-yarder that beat Penn State.

Stoneburner, who interviewed with the Packers at the Scouting Combine, ran in 4.65 there and then in 4.53 at pro day. Not only does he have good height but he's got a 34.5-inch vertical leap.

That field-stretching ability was evident during one play at the rookie camp, when Stoneburner ran past safety Chaz Powell and got behind the rest of the defense to catch a strike about 35 yards downfield from B.J. Coleman.

"Yeah, I feel like playing tight end, you've got to be able to stretch the field," Stoneburner said. "That's what I can bring: I can stretch the field, and if you split me out, I can stretch the field that way, too. I think my receiver background, playing it in high school and college, helps gives me a good knowledge of ball skills and how to run routes, how to get open. I think that can carry over down the road."

There's an opening at tight end, even looking beyond Tom Crabtree's free-agent defection. Andrew Quarless missed all of 2012 with a knee injury, D.J. Williams hasn't produced in the passing game like he did at Arkansas, and Jermichael Finley is entering his final season under contract.

Clearly, Stoneburner's calling card is the passing game but it's not like blocking is something foreign.

"It's something I definitely have to work on because I took a year off from it and it wasn't my natural position," he said. "In the Big Ten, it wasn't like we were blocking scrubs. My junior year, I blocked three first-round defensive ends: J.J. Watt, Adrian Clayborn and (Ryan) Kerrigan. Those guys are all making big plays now. It's definitely something I have to work on but I feel comfortable doing it. It's not something I feel out of place doing. They're not asking me to come down and block a three-technique and power block him; at Ohio State, we were. I feel like this offense definitely suits the type of tight end I am."


Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.


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.


Packer Report Top Stories