Signaling that the Green Bay Packers might not be smitten with neophyte punters Tim Masthay and Chris Bryan, they checked out Tom Mante during Yale's pro day on Thursday.
Watching a punter at a pro day in and of itself is no big deal. It's the circumstances, however, that make this interesting.
About a 90-minute trip from Yale's New Haven, Conn., campus, touted UMass offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse worked out for scouts. Considering Ducasse is considered a starting-caliber NFL lineman at guard, right tackle or maybe even left tackle as a second-round prospect, he is a definite player of interest for the Packers.
Instead, the Packers sent Northeast scout Lee Gissendaner to Yale, where Mante was the main attraction, a source told Packer Report. The Packers were the only team to attend, with more than 20 NFL teams in Amherst to watch Ducasse.
Mante, who would be a priority undrafted free agent, led the Ivy League with a 41.2-yard average. Only 21 of his 58 punts were returned. Yale ranked 12th in FCS with a 37.0-yard net average and he placed 17 punts inside the 20-yard line. As a second-team all-conference choice in 2008, only 23 of his 65 punts were returned. Yale ranked fifth in FCS with a 36.0-yard net average and 10th in punt return defense (5.3-yard average), and he placed 25 punts inside the 20-yard line. He had three career punts of at least 70 yards.
As an added bonus, Mante has some tools as a kicker. While he made just 4-of-12 attempts as a senior, he nailed a 54-yarder and had four touchbacks on kickoffs. He made 8-of-12 as a junior.
"He's a legitimate NFL kicker so more people are going to be interested — you have to have a legitimate guy," Yale assistant coach Duane Brooks told the Yale Daily News recently.
As for Ducasse, the Packers met with him during Senior Bowl week as well as at the Scouting Combine.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.