Draft preview: Fullback analysis

Packer Report continues its position-by-position preview of the draft with a look at the fullbacks. There's something for everyone, with good lead blockers who can catch and good receivers who can block.

Editor's note: This is Part 3 of our 14-part position-by-position breakdown heading to the April 25-26 NFL Draft. We continue with the fullbacks. The prospects are listed in order based on analysis by Scout.com draft expert Chris Steuber and Packer Report, with the comments that follow them based on the beliefs of league experts and insiders.

The Packers' perspective:

In a league in which the fullback is being fazed out of many playbooks, Packers coach Mike McCarthy sometimes puts two fullbacks in the same backfield.

Problem is, returning fullbacks John Kuhn and Korey Hall are jacks of all trades but masters of none. They're both OK blockers and they both can catch the ball. But when it's third-and-1, neither can be relied upon to deliver a devastating block to lead the halfback to the first down.

So, the Packers could be looking to upgrade the position. If so, it would be with a late-round pick. The demand for fullbacks isn't high, and even McCarthy plays without one on about half of the offensive snaps.

Cream of the crop:

Tony Fiammetta, Syracuse: Fiammetta is the best all-around fullback in this draft. He's a good but not great lead blocker who had 12 receptions as a junior and 16 as a senior. As a former standout high school tailback, he's more athletic than you might imagine for a 6-foot, 245-pounder. Click here if you missed our March 28 feature on Fiammetta.

Just a notch below:

— Quinn Johnson, LSU: The 6-foot-1, 246-pounder is arguably the best blocker among this class of fullbacks. He was recruited to play linebacker, and that defensive mentality shows in his aggressive blocking. He says he has good hands but he never got a chance to show that at LSU. Click here if you missed our April 10 feature on Johnson.

Brannan Southerland, Georgia: He played in only four games as a senior because of a fractured foot. He's not a powerhouse blocker but is strong and uses his athletic ability as a good position blocker. Recalling how McCarthy used Kuhn as a short-yardage runner, Southerland holds some appeal. He rushed for 17 touchdowns at Georgia. The 6-foot, 242-pounder has only marginal hands, though.

Others to remember:

Travis McCall, Alabama: At 6-foot-2, 276 pounds, McCall is like having an extra lineman. Which was basically his role at Alabama. He was a second tight end used almost strictly as a blocker. He's physical, loves to hit people and is good on special teams. Offers almost nothing as a receiver, though.

David Johnson, Arkansas State: The most interesting fullback prospect is the 6-foot-2, 271-pound Johnson. He played tight end in college, and caught 22 passes for 356 yards and five touchdowns as a senior. He's a very good blocker, but is inexperienced blocking from the fullback position and played against lesser competition in the Sun Belt Conference.

Conredge Collins, Pittsburgh: The son of former Patriots running back Tony Collins, the 6-foot, 227-pound Collins is an intriguing prospect. He's not big enough to be a dominating blocker but he has good hands and can be a big change-of-pace runner. He rushed for 4,331 yards and 52 touchdowns in high school.

— Marquez Brandon, Central Arkansas: The 6-foot-2, 248-pounder played tight end in college. He's the best athlete of the bunch but is only an OK blocker and is inexperienced lining up as a traditional fullback. His upside comes as a receiver. He caught 45 passes for 11 touchdowns as a senior. Played against Football Championship Subdivision competition.

— Marcus Mailei, Weber State: The 6-foot, 256-pounder is strong and stays low, traits that make him a good lead blocker. He caught 57 passes over the last three seasons. Scouts are critical of his level of competition (another FCS school) and wonder if his lack of athletic ability will hurt him while trying to block athletic linebackers.

Jorvorskie Lane: The enigma is the 6-foot, 297-pound Lane. Yes, you read that correctly. He's huge with nimble feet, but he's not strong (only 17 reps on the 225-pound bench press) and there are obvious concerns about his commitment. But, he rushed for almost 2,200 yards with 49 touchdowns in four seasons.

— Wisconsin's Chris Pressley and Bill Rentmeester: The powerful Pressley is the better blocker but there are injury concerns. Rentmeester is a decent blocker but considered more reliable. Neither offer anything as receivers. Both will be looking to sign as undrafted free agents.

Chris Steuber's sleeper:

Mark Hafner, Houston: The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder will get a look somewhere because of his receiving skills. He caught 86 passes for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He played tight end in college but scouts see him a versatile fullback.

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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport

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