Draft Position Preview: TEs

Tight end ranks 10th on our list of the Packers' draft needs, with Jermichael Finley looking like a budding star. But Donald Lee is coming off of two unproductive, drop-prone seasons. There are plenty of pass-catching, midround prospects.

Packer Report continues its position-by-position looks at the NFL Draft with the tight ends.

Packers position rank by need

10th of 13.

State of the Packers

After a breakout second season, Jermichael Finley is poised to become one of the top three or four tight ends in the NFL. His 37 receptions in his final seven games ranked third in the NFL. Donald Lee might drop too many passes, but the combination of Lee and Spencer Havner provide enviable depth.

Forget about ...

Top tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Rob Gronkowski figure to be on the board when Green Bay picks at No. 23. But they won't be a target for the Packers, who have much bigger needs. Amazingly, the top two tight ends in this class didn't play in a single game last season. They were sidelined by knee and back injuries, respectively.

Possible targets

While there are no sure-fire standouts in this group, the depth is intriguing if the Packers want to possibly replace Lee.

First, there are the pass catchers, of which there are many.


POSITION PACKAGE
No. 13: Quarterbacks
No. 12: Specialists
No. 11: Wide receivers

Miami's Jimmy Graham, who stands a towering 6-foot-6, played only one season of football after starting off and on for four seasons on the basketball court. He caught 17 passes, including five for touchdowns, in 2009. Not surprisingly, he's more of an athlete than a complete tight end at this point. That potential probably makes him the third tight end off the board.

USC's Anthony McCoy (6-5, 259) averaged 15.9 yards per catch in his career, including 20.8 as a senior, when he caught 22 passes. He wasn't impressive at all during a week of Senior Bowl practices, but at least he's a receiving threat who can block. The same can't be said for most of these guys, which is why McCoy should go in the third round.

Oregon's Ed Dickson (6-4, 249) was the best of the tight ends at the Senior Bowl. At 6-foot-4, the former defensive end set the school's tight ends record with 124 career catches and is at least a marginal blocker. Florida's Aaron Hernandez (6-2, 245) was Tim Tebow's favorite target last season. The Mackey Award winner as the nation's top tight end caught 111 passes for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns in his three seasons. He showed impressive strength at the Combine but hasn't shown he can block. BYU's Dennis Pitta (6-4, 245) was a receiving machine with a school-record 221 career catches. He can't block, either, but the potential is there.

Iowa's Tony Moeaki (6-3, 245) hasn't stayed healthy but has the tools to be a two-way tight end. Pittsburgh's Dorin Dickerson blew away the field at the Combine but could be a player without a position in the NFL. At 6-foot-1, 228 pounds, he's too small to block, but he looked like a fish out of water at wide receiver at the Senior Bowl. Wisconsin's Garrett Graham (6-3, 243) catches everything in sight and would be murder against zone defenses but isn't big enough or fast enough to excel consistently. Penn State's Andrew Quarless has too many red flags for the Packers, despite his size (6-5, 254) and speed (4.57 40).

Then, there are the blockers, all of whom are late-round prospects because they're so limited in the receiving game. Illinois' Michael Hoomanawanui (6-4, 264) caught 25 passes in 2008 but 10 in 2009. He's got the speed to make a play or two in the passing game. Pittsburgh's Nate Byham and Oklahoma's Brody Eldridge are the best of the bunch as blockers. Byham (6-4, 268) is dominant, while Eldridge (6-5, 261) was good enough that the Sooners used him at guard at times. Alabama's Colin Peek (6-5, 252) caught 26 passes with three touchdowns in his only season with the Tide. Penn State's Mickey Shuler Jr. (6-4, 251) is the son of the standout tight end who played for the Jets and Eagles. He caught 27 passes over his last three seasons.

As a wild card, remember Houston's Fendi Onobun. He played basketball for four years at Arizona before going to Houston to play one season of football. He started one game and caught two passes but ran his 40 in 4.45 seconds — impressive speed at 6-foot-6 and 252 pounds.


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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. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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