The Packers have held formal interviews with at least three premier wide receivers: Kansas' Dez Briscoe, Notre Dame's Golden Tate and Mississippi's Dexter McCluster, Packer Report has learned. All three are solid second-round prospects.
With Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones and Jordy Nelson forming a fantastic foursome, receiver clearly isn't a need position. But Driver turned 35 on Feb. 2 and it's not a given that either Jones or Nelson will be able to fill Driver's shoes and prevent Jennings from facing double coverage on every snap.
Notre Dame WR Golden Tate
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The consensus All-American and winner of the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver set school records for catches and receiving yards in a season and equaled the mark for touchdown receptions in a season. He ranked in the top eight nationally in nine statistical categories and scored at least one touchdown in the Fighting Irish's final 11 games. That production made it a no-brainer to leave Notre Dame following his junior season.
"Funny story," Tate told reporters on Friday. "I spoke with Coach (Charlie) Weis before the season, before we played a down before camp. He said ‘Unless you have around 1,500 yards and around 16 or 17 touchdowns I would not leave early.' I had 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns. Another thing before I made any decisions, we sat down and spoke. The pros were better than the cons, we thought. So we made the decision to enter the draft early."
RB/WR Dexter McCluster
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His size is an obvious concern, but he was dominant down the stretch. In his final six games, he accumulated 1,005 rushing yards and averaged 167.5 rushing yards on 23.8 carries. Plus in that span, he caught 28 passes for 322 yards and topped 200 yards from scrimmage in four of those games.
His explosive ability would be a real draw for the Packers, who could use a stretch-the-field receiver, change-of-pace runner, third-down playmaker out of the backfield and dynamic return threat. Some scouts have said McCluster will merit first-round consideration, in part because of the success of smaller players like Percy Harvin and DeSean Jackson, though second round is more likely.
"It was more so early on," McCluster said Saturday of teams' concerns. "Now, a lot of teams aren't really talking about the weight or height situation. A lot of them are saying, ‘We really don't care. You're a playmaker. You play football, so that's what you do. Your game speaks for itself.' They see I'm not scared to take on a block, a man-to-man block, and they see that I can make one man miss. Right now, I don't think it's such a big issue. It never was an issue for me because it's been that way all my life, always a smaller guy. I had to work that much harder to get better and to prove that there is something different about me."
Kansas WR Dez Briscoe
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Briscoe acknowledges he won't blow anyone away when he runs his 40 at the Combine — adding that the scouts didn't consider his lack of blazing speed "a big deal." Nonetheless, he produced no shortage of big plays.
"I feel like it's more of a mind-set, wanting to get the extra yards," he said on Saturday. "There are certain situations where body size or whatever really doesn't make a difference. If you go to Dexter McClusters and the Jacoby Fords, the smaller guys or whatever, they're not as physically built but they've got the mind-set and the heart as big as the stadium to go out and make someone miss."
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