Packers position rank by need
13th of 13.
State of the Packers
It's not that the Packers don't need to upgrade their specialists — especially punter — but this is not a good draft class.
At kicker, Mason Crosby struggled through a woeful 27-of-36 season on field goals and has yet to bang home even 80 percent of his field-goal attempts over the course of his three NFL seasons. The Packers probably will bring in a challenger but it probably won't be in the draft, a source told Packer Report.
Punter might be a target most seasons, with Tim Masthay and Aussie Chris Bryan having never even kicked in a preseason game. But this is a bad draft class of punters.
Possible targets: Kicker
Michigan State's Brett Swenson and Alabama's Leigh Tiffin were the Senior Bowl kickers and are Scout.com's top prospects, but neither appeared ready for prime time during their week in Mobile, Ala. Tiffin, who was 29-of-33 on field goals as a senior and has a decent leg, tops the charts of NFLDraftScout.com, followed by Ohio State's Aaron Pettrey and Texas' Hunter Lawrence. Pettrey hit 14-of-20 as a senior with a long of 52 but missed time with a torn MCL. Lawrence hit 24-of-27 as a senior — including a pressure-packed game-winner in the Big 12 title game vs. Nebraska — with a career-long 49-yarder. The 5-foot-8 Swenson hit 19-of-22 with a long of 52 as a senior but had seven blocked for his career.
The wild card is Garrett Lindholm of Division II Tarleton State. He hit a 64-yard field goal as a senior. That alone might get him drafted.
An undrafted prospect would be Mississippi's Joshua Shene, who hit 57-of-75 (76.0 percent) for his career with a long of 52 yards, including 15-of-20 as a senior. Also, there's Northern Illinois' Mike Salerno, who hit 19-of-25 (76.0 percent) with a long of 50 as a senior and also has been a decent fill-in punter. For a camp leg, how about Wisconsin-Whitewater's Jeff Schebler, who is the all-divisions scoring leader among kickers? The Packers saw him at Wisconsin's pro day. He's accurate but doesn't have a powerful leg — evidenced by his career 64.0 percent accuracy beyond 40 yards.
Possible targets: Punter
Michigan's Zoltan Mesko, East Carolina's Matt Dodge, Virginia Tech's Brent Bowden and Fresno State's Robert Malone are considered the four draftable prospects, with Dodge and Mesko topping the list. Neither, however, showed enough consistency during Senior Bowl week to make an NFL roster as a rookie. On pure talent, the muscular Dodge tops this list but is wildly inconsistent.
Of this foursome, the one who might make the most sense for the Packers is Bowden because of his directional kicking skills (72 inside-the-20s vs. 28 touchbacks for career and a 20-to-9 ratio as a senior). Bowden averaged 43.8 yards as a senior, with only 22 of his 57 punts being returned.
As a wild card an an undrafted free agent, keep in mind Wofford's Chris Tommie, who, as we told you last week, impressed the Packers at South Carolina State's pro day. Vanderbilt's Brett Upson averaged 43.1 pr punt as a senior with 23 inside-the-20s, 10 touchbacks and 22 kicks of 50-plus yards.
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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.