Packers prospect: Mike Peterson

In an ongoing series, Packer Report tells you about the prospects who are fighting for jobs at OTAs, next week's minicamp and into training camp. Mike Peterson's college coach raves about the tight end's after-the-catch skills.

Adam Dorrel is so excited, he laughs at the end of the sentence.

Dorrel is the offensive coordinator and running-game coordinator at Northwest Missouri State, where undrafted rookie tight end Mike Peterson was a two-time Division II all-American.

"I hope what (the fans) get to see is, after the ball is in his hands, look out, baby," Dorrel said excitedly.

Usually, there's little reason to be excited about a player like Peterson. At a shade over 6-foot-2, he doesn't have ideal height for a tight end. Besides, there's a reason why he went undrafted, and there's a reason he was playing at Division II.

But Peterson shouldn't be quickly dismissed as nothing more than a camp body.

He arrived at Northwest Missouri State after a stint as a junior-college baseball player.

"He showed up on our doorsteps as a walk-on, and that's the best walk-on this program ever got, I can assure you of that," Dorrel said. "He was an all-state tailback, so that's why he's so good with the ball."

During his final three seasons, he averaged 43 catches for 14.3 yards per reception and 16 touchdowns. As a senior, he averaged 16.0 yards per catch, and even lined up in the backfield to carry the ball nine times for 62 yards.

Even with an offense led by Xavier Omon, who rushed for more than 7,000 yards in his career and was selected in the sixth round by Buffalo, Peterson was a focal point for the Bearcats' offense.

"When (Omon) needed a spell, we knew Mike Peterson needed to touch the ball," Dorrel said. "By God, whether it was a tight end screen, one of his favorite routes or line him up in the backfield, we knew going into games that we needed to get him the ball X number of times."

Along with Peterson's skills, Dorrel several times raved about Peterson the person. As is the case with a vast majority of the players Ted Thompson has signed during his tenure as general manager, Peterson is a high-character player.

"Mike is a great person," Dorrel said. "Our kids loved him here for years. No. 1, he was so hard working and so committed to the program that he was a natural leader. Kids saw him working his (tail) off day in and day out. A lot of our kids fed off him. His work ethic is his No. 1 strength. He's not going to get outworked. He'll do whatever you tell him to do. Kids loved him for that. He'll give you the shirt off his back."

Character, of course, only gets a player so far. With Donald Lee entrenched with a four-year contract extension, a hefty commitment made in third-round draft pick Jermichael Finley and three years of waiting for Tory Humphrey, Peterson has his work cut out for him. His blocking needs work, though with 250 pounds attached to his frame, he's got the bulk.

"All the scouts," Dorrel said, "placed a big emphasis (in fall 2007) on becoming a better blocker, and he did that from his junior year. He's got pretty good hands when he gets locked on."

Still, two-way tight ends are rare in the pass-first NFL, and sub-4.6-second speed in the 40 is rare at the position. If the Packers' coaches light up the way Dorrel does about Peterson's after-the-catch abilities, look out.

"The thing I told the scouts is his ability when the pigskin is in his hands," Dorrel said. "He's extremely gifted at running the ball. He's got great ball security, a very good stiff-arm and good vision. Go score, that's his mentality."

Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to E-mail him at

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