As our review of the tight end position continues on, we turn our sights to possible options from outside the Green Bay Packers organization. With Jermichael Finley's career very much in question, and both he and Andrew Quarless entering free agency, the Packers may be looking to add more than one tight end to the roster. It's a safe bet that Ted Thompson will look for a long-term answer through the NFL Draft, so let's take a look at the options there first.
Eric Ebron, UNC
Ebron is built in the mold of the hybrid tight end that can be a mismatch in the slot against a linebacker or safety. His size (6-foot-4 and 245 pounds) also bodes well for eventually becoming a run blocker as well. The scouts seem to believe he has really improved in that area during the 2013 season, and if he's still on the board in first round the Packers might consider taking him. Ebron finished with 55 receptions for 895 yards and three touchdowns in 2013.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
At 6-foot-6 and 266 pounds, Seferian-Jenkins appears to be built in the mold of a Jermichael Finley or Rob Gronkowski, and his numbers back it up too. He ended his 2013 season with 41 receptions for 538 yards and six touchdowns. Seferian-Jenkins would instantly becoming a red zone target for Aaron Rodgers with that size, which is something the team was missing at times this season. He could also be a first-round selection if the Packers feel confident in him, but if he slips into the second round, don't be surprised if the Packers select him without hesitation.
C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa
Fiedorowicz would also be a red zone weapon within the Packers offense, and he probably has one of the best blocking techniques within the draft class. His size (6-foot-7 and 265 pounds) makes him hard to miss if he were to run down the seam, or across the middle of the field. He may end up being the most balanced tight end in the class if he gets put in the right situation.
Jacob Pedersen, Wisconsin
Pederson had 36 receptions for 501 yards and three touchdowns in 2013, but has been an impact player on the team for the past several seasons. Pederson (6'4, 241) needs to add some weight to his frame in order to become an NFL blocker. Pederson would also fit the mold of an H-Back, a position which he played regularly with the Badgers, or a second tight end.
Free Agent Options
More Free Agent Options:
More Free Agent Options:
If the Ravens don't use the franchise tag on him, The Packers should seriously consider going after the talented tight end from Baltimore. He has bailed out Joe Flacco on multiple occasions with his great hands and leaping ability. If the Packers want an immediate bona fide starter to replace Jermichael Finley, Pitta would be the best option.
Just kidding. The Saints will pay top dollar for him to stick around. It would be pretty awesome though.
Scott Chandler, Bills
Chandler finished with 53 receptions for 653 yards and two touchdowns in 2013 with not a whole lot of competent play at quarterback. He would be a safer financial choice, but there is a drop off in terms of playmaking ability between himself and Pitta. He could be a big red-zone weapon, though, as his 6'7" frame indicates, and he did post 11 total touchdowns of 20 yards or fewer in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Keller is coming off a pretty horrific knee injury during the preseason in which he tore his ACL, MCL, PCL, and dislocated his right knee. If the Packers can work him out and see how his knee looks, they might take a flyer on him if they can get him at a discount price. He's an undersized tight end, but he would fit the Packers offense pretty well as a No. 2 option.
Josh VanDyke covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Company. He is also currently a sports writer for MLive.com.