Packers work out D-III basketball player

UW-La Crosse's Joe Werner, a national player-of-the-year candidate, could get a look at tight end.

Can Joe Werner be the next Antonio Gates, who went from basketball player to star NFL tight end?

Probably not, but the standout basketball player for the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, an NCAA Division III school, worked out for the Green Bay Packers last week.

Werner, the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference player of the year and one of 10 finalists for Division III player of the year, stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 255 pounds. During his workout for the Packers, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds and posted a vertical leap of 36 inches.

Of's top 10 tight end prospects, that 40 time is faster than all but Miami's Greg Olsen, the No. 1 prospect at the position and almost two-tenths of a second faster than the hyped Zach Miller of Arizona State.

"That was pretty exciting," he told his hometown Chippewa Falls, Wis., newspaper. "It was a cool opportunity to do something that most people don't get a chance to do. I just wanted to make the most of my chance."

Werner hasn't played football since his sophomore year at McDonell High School in Chippewa Falls. That means he almost certainly won't get drafted but could receive an invite to join the team at the post-draft minicamps in May.

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