The NFL Scouting Combine is upon us. It starts this Friday, March 2 and runs through Monday, March 5. The offensive prospects show themselves off the first two days, while the defense is auditioning the final two days. Its one of the most anticipated offseason and drafts for Packers fans in nearly a decade. The combine will be particularly interesting to kick off the offseason the Packers have more draft capital that they have had since 2009.
Here is a fun anecdote about that 2009 draft. The Packers traded Brett Favre the offseason before and ultimately received the Jets 3rd Round pick, 83rd overall. The Packers then, in turn, traded both of their 3rd rounders (#73 and #83). to move up 15 spots from pick 41 to 26 (and receive a 5th rounder). The end result the Packers drafted Clay Matthews (and Jamon Meredith). The Patriots then traded #73rd pick as to the Jaguars for the Jaguars 2nd round pick the following year, which ended up being the 44th pick. The Patriots moved up two more spots and to draft none other than Rob Gronkowski. Got that? In essence, the trade by the Jets for Brett Favre, allowed the Packers to trade up for Clay Matthews and help cause the Patriots to draft Rob Gronwoksi.
A Tight End in the 2nd round? Someone in the middle (the 40’s)? Trading up for him if that is what it takes. That sound like a good idea. Let me introduce you to Dallas Goedert from South Dakota State.
6’5″ 255 Pounds. 2017: 92 Receptions 1293 Yards 11 Touchdowns.
Versatility is his strength. He is an all-around tight end. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com calls him a “Moveable Chess Piece,” who is capable in the third level (deep), and he notes that he has the size and technique as a blocker. And Todd McShay of ESPN calls him a “rare two-way tight end,” and that “this guy can block legitimately.” Matt Miller of Bleacher rates him as the best slot tight end in this draft in his pre-combine rankings. Blocking, Deep Threat, Slot.
He is very athletic. His size is ideal. And he was recruited in high school for basketball by Division II and III college programs. Basketball is a great measurement of pure athleticism and of course, this has translated very nicely to the modern NFL pass-catching tight ends. That athleticism and his ball skills are on full display on this play from early in the 2016 season.
McShay on his and Mel Kiper’s podcast last week said, “I would argue he is the most underrated player in this draft right now.”
The obvious negative for Goedert is his level of competition in college. Any NFL tight end would look athletic and could dominate against Divison II DB’s and LB’s. That is why Saturday at the scouting combine when the tight ends are tested will be interesting for the tight end prospect. If he shows good measurable and scores in the upper range of tight ends, he can then be considered a legitimate NFL tight end prospect and one that surely the Gutekunst is going to consider intently.
The Packers’ Tight End situation is a sheet of empty canvass. Richard Rodgers is the only player with any experience that figures to be on the 53 man roster come September. The Packers do not need anything in particular. They need everything. Austin Sefarin-Jenkinks, Jimmy Graham, Tyler Eifert and Trey Burton are the biggest names on the free agent market. Sefarian-Jenkins played well last season for the first time in his career and there is some potential upside given the right situation. Graham is a niche tight end that has little use as a blocker and mostly a red-zone target. Eifert while talented and would be a great fit but is injured so often he makes Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Bryan Bulaga look like Brett Favre as far as durability. Finally, Trey Burton is an intriguing option as he is somewhat unproven. Martellus Bennett, far before quitting on the Packers transitioned well from a back up with the Cowboys to a top-tier starter with the Giants. It will be interesting to see what the market bears for Burton. In any case, what the Packers chose to do with the positon via free agency will help to determine what level of draft capital they use on the position.
Hayden Hurst, Mike Geisick and Mark Andrews are other tight ends rated as potential Day one to two prospects. Hayden out of South Carolina is deemed “Most NFL Ready Ready,” by Matt Miller. He better be considering he is going to be 25 his rookie season. Actually, he should be in the final year of his rookie contract by now. In any case, drafting old rookies is never a good idea. Mike Geisick out of Penn State is a long lanky and athletic tight end. He is one to keep an eye on, as his upside as a receiver is off the charts, though he is mostly one-dimensional. Mike Wendlandt profiles him in his Pre-Combine look at prospects. Andrews out of Oklahoma won the John Mackey award as the nation’s best tight end is more limited athletically with limited upside. He did manage to put up impressive numbers, 62 recptions, 958 yards and 8 touchdowns, though it helped to have the Heisman Trophy winner throwing him the ball.
Goedert looks the part. If the Packers feel he can play the part, they will have an opportunity to acquire him. While they are unlikely to use their first-round pick on a tight end, he could be in play with their second-round pick. If his stock rises somewhat, the Packers could also consider moving up in the second round considering their 12 picks this year. This Saturday will go a long way in helping finalize Goedert status as a prospect for the Packers and other teams seeking a tight end.
Originally from Glidden Wisconsin, Jason Straetz is a lifelong Packers\' fan, who has lived in Maine for over 30 years. He is a writer for packerstalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @jsnstz