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Draft Produces Few Excellent Tight Ends

It's easy to say the Packers have failed to replace Jermichael Finley. Recent draft history, however, tells a different story.

Jermichael Finley’s final season under his rookie contract was 2011. With the possibility they could lose Finley the following offseason, Packers general manager Ted Thompson selected tight ends D.J. Williams (fifth round) and Ryan Taylor (seventh round). With that as a backdrop, here’s a look at the last five draft classes at the position.

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Year: Number selected (Packers selections). Players selected in first three rounds. Players with at least 130 catches in first four-plus seasons; 100 in first three-plus; 70 in first two-plus; 40 in first one-plus; 10 as rookie this season.

2011: 12 (including Williams and Taylor). Zero in first round, two in second round (Minnesota’s Kyle Rudolph, St. Louis’ Lance Kendricks), one in third round (Arizona’s Rob Housler). 130-plus receptions: Four — Miami’s Charles Clay (sixth round; 192); Rudolph (149); Cleveland’s Jordan Cameron (fourth round; 145); Kendricks (136).

2012: 11. Zero in first round, one in second round (Indianapolis’ Coby Fleener), two in third round (Indianapolis’ Dwayne Allen, Miami’s Michael Egnew). 100-plus receptions: One — Fleener (148).

2013: 16. One in first round (Cincinnati’s Tyler Eifert), three in second round (Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz, Dallas’ Gavin Escobar, San Francisco’s Vance McDonald), two in third round (Kansas City’s Travis Kelce, Washington’s Jordan Reed). 70-plus receptions: Six — Reed (119); Ertz (113); Oakland’s Mychal Rivera (sixth round; 105); Kelce (96); Tim Wright (undrafted; 87); Eifert (70).

2014: 10 (including Green Bay’s Richard Rodgers in the third round). One in first round (Detroit’s Eric Ebron), three in second round (Tampa Bay’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins, N.Y. Jets’ Jace Amaro, Arizona’s Troy Niklas), three in third round (Houston’s C.J. Fiedorowicz, Green Bay’s Rodgers, Baltimore’s Crockett Gillmore). 40-plus receptions: Two — Rodgers (41); Ebron (40).

2015: 19 (including Green Bay’s Kennard Backman in the sixth round). Zero in first round, one in second round (Baltimore’s Maxx Williams), three in third round (Oakland’s Clive Walford, Cincinnati’s Tyler Kroft, Denver’s Jeff Heuerman). 10-plus receptions: One — Williams (12).Note: From 2011 through 2014, three tight ends were drafted who have been selected for a Pro Bowl: Minnesota’s Kyle Rudolph (second round, 2011), Cleveland’s Jordan Cameron (fourth round, 2011) and Denver’s Julius Thomas (fourth round, 2011). In that 2011 draft, the Broncos traded up with the Packers to select Thomas. With the fifth-round pick Green Bay acquired, it took tight end D.J. Williams.

Bill Huber is publisher of 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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