Packer Report is examining the Green Bay Packers' draft history to get a better handle at the prospects who they might be considering in next month's draft.
We skimmed the surface with the cornerbacks, focusing on general manager Ted Thompson's mere 1-inch deviation among his draft picks. Now, we are going into greater depth with key measurables at each position. The measurables we're using are based in large part on FootballEducator.com's "Attribute Success Correlation". The Web site was created by former Denver Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist. Research done by Sundquist's colleague, Joe Landers, has uncovered what Scouting Combine-style measurables are most and least important.
General manager Ted Thompson has drafted just five tight ends in his nine previous drafts: Clark Harris in 2007, Jermichael Finley in 2008, Andrew Quarless in 2010 and D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor in 2011. Finley was selected in the third round, Quarless in the fourth, Williams the fifth and Harris and Taylor in the seventh.
|2007: Clark Harris||6054||262||21||NA||NA||NA||1.70||4.83||7.21||32.0|
|2008: Jermichael Finley||6044||243||20||NA||NA||11.83||1.66||4.82||7.15||27.5|
|2010: Andrew Quarless||6043||254||23||34||10 1/4||NA||1.70||4.69||7.29||32.0|
|2011: D.J. Williams||6021||245||20||31 1/2||10 3/8||12.20||1.62||4.68||7.29||33.5|
|2011: Ryan Taylor||6034||254||21||NA||NA||NA||1.69||4.76||7.09||34.0|
What's striking is how Finley stacked up athletically with the other tight ends. While Finley was much faster during Texas' pro day, with his 4.66 clocking in the 40-yard dash, he was only faster than Harris at the Combine, had easily the worst vertical jump, was in the middle of the pack in his three-cone drill and tied Williams for the fewest reps on the 225-pound bench press.
It was a different story on Sundays, of course.
Harris has found his niche as a long snapper. Quarless — the most gifted of the tight ends from a pure athletic standpoint until sustaining a major knee injury — has 56 catches and three touchdowns in four seasons while Finley had 61 catches in 2012 and eight touchdowns in 2011. Williams, who spent time with the Packers, Jaguars and Patriots last year, has nine career catches. Taylor, with eight career catches, has been limited mostly to special teams.
With Finley's uncertain future as he recovers from spinal surgery, the Packers enter this year's draft with a major need at tight end. In what is one of the deepest overall drafts in memory, it's one of the weakest for the tight ends. North Carolina's Eric Ebron doesn't figure to be available with the 21st selection. Texas Tech's Jace Amaro is a tight end in name only — he was a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the nation's top receiver. And Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who is the closest thing in this draft to a complete tight end, is coming off of foot surgery and was unable to go through physical testing.
Notre Dame's Troy Niklas (6-foot-7), Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz (6-foot-6) and Georgia's Arthur Lynch (6-foot-5), who arguably the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-best tight ends in the draft, are blockers and possession receivers. Colorado State's Crockett Gillmore (6-6) and Utah's Jake Murphy (6-4) are solid all-around performers. Cal's Richard Rodgers (6-4), Fresno State's Marcel Jensen (6-6), USC's Xavier Grimble (6-4) and Baylor's Jordan Najvar (6-6) round out the group of "true" tight ends who measure at least 6-foot-4 (without rounding up).
Basing that nine-prospect group on the worst of the Packers' picks athletically (Harris' 4.83 in the 40; Quarless ‘and Williams' 7.29 three-cone; Finley's 27.5-inch vertical), only Fiedorowicz and Murphy beat all three of those minimum results.
(Wisconsin's Jacob Pedersen, who was 6-3 1/2 at the Combine and projects to more of an on-the-move tight end than a traditional in-line player, ran in 4.86, with a three-cone of 7.55 and vertical of 28.5, so falls short on two of the three measurements).
Based on that resounding lack of athleticism, it's little wonder why Cincinnati's Blake Annen is seen as a fast-rising sleeper. Annen (6-4, 247) ran in a stunning 4.39 and 4.42 at pro day. While he caught just 15 passes as senior, he led all tight end with 19 touchdown-resulting blocks, according to scout Dave-Te' Thomas' NFL Draft Report.
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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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.