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Despite having four players on the roster at the position and another as a restricted free agent, the Packers could potentially be in the market for a rookie tight end.
At this point, it's still entirely possible that Jermichael Finley will be a Packer in 2013, and scouting the top tight ends may be a lesson in futility. However, it appears equally probable that Finley will be cut to save some substantial cash and cap room and we may be seeing Ted Thompson draft a tight end in the first few rounds. At this point, nothing will surprise me. With that said, let's break down the tight ends coming to this year's scouting combine.
Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame) and Zach Ertz (Stanford) are the headliners in this year's rookie class. Both have been projected to the Packers by some prognosticators at 26th overall, but I could only see the team drafting one of these two if Jermichael Finley is released in the next few weeks. Both are big, talented pass-catchers, but have some work to do as blockers. Eifert is probably the better of the two when blocking is concerned.
Gavin Escobar (San Diego State) could be a target in the middle rounds as a big, athletic target. He's not as polished as the top two, but like Finley when he was drafted a few years ago, he has a lot of untapped potential. If the Packers decide they want a tight end who can block first, Dion Sims of Michigan State may be a target. Niners Nation broke down Sims yesterday - he's massive at 280+ pounds, but he'll almost certainly be closer to 270 at the Combine and he's very athletic for a man that size.
Finally, another equally unusual physical specimen is Levine Toilolo, Ertz's teammate at Stanford. He's probably one of the least-polished tight ends in the draft, but his 6'7" frame and athleticism will make someone jump at the chance to mold him into a red zone monster.
There's no question on this one. Philip Lutzenkirchen from Auburn is the automatic winner. Toilolo may be a great option, but you can't beat an incredible last name like Lutzenkirchen.
You'll see if you scroll through the whole list that one relatively big name was left off the combine invite list. That person is Michael Williams of Alabama, who made a nice catch for a touchdown in the Senior Bowl. It's a shame that Williams won't be able to work out at the combine, as he's a player who could definitely benefit from some of the pass-catching drills.
Note: all underclassmen are shown in italics.
|Cunningham, Justice||South Carolina|
|Eifert, Tyler||Notre Dame|
|Escobar, Gavin||San Diego State|
|Otten, Ryan||San Jose State|
|Pantale, Chris||Boston College|
|Sims, Dion||Michigan State|
|Stoneburner, Jake||Ohio State|
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