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Cheese Curds, 4/14: What is the Packers’ backup plan at tight end?

If the draft board doesn’t fall quite right, a certain old friend should be a strong candidate to return for another season.

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Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

It the Green Bay Packers come out of the 2023 NFL Draft without selecting at least one tight end, it will be a shocking turn of events — perhaps even more surprising than when they did not select a wide receiver in 2020. If they draft fewer than two it won’t cause that level of surprise, but it could justifiably be a bit puzzling given the team’s diverse needs at the position.

With so few players on the roster at the position and the team using tight ends in very different ways, one may as well think of it as multiple different positions. The in-line tight end spot is very different from a “move” tight end, who’s used much more often off the line of scrimmage or in the slot. This year’s draft class has a number of players who are strong candidates for the latter role, and although there are some for the former, they’re fewer and farther between.

So if the Packers do get a receiving option in the early rounds of the draft, selecting an in-line blocker later would be wise. And if they cannot or do not do so, they may just have to turn to a certain old, grizzled veteran for a return for yet another season — that is, if the New York Jets don’t try to scoop him up to give Aaron Rodgers another buddy.

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Darnell Washington is one of those few potential in-line blocking tight ends, and he's a likely day-1 or day-2 pick because he also flashes excellent receiving ability. On day three, you're likely to have to pick one or the other, but Old Dominion's Zack Kuntz could be a pass-catching complement.

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Meanwhile, on defense, I've been high on the Packers taking a flyer on Georgia edge rusher Rober Beal with a late-round pick. He has crazy athleticism, he just hasn't put it all together. Gambling on athletic ability and upside is never a bad way to go late on day three.

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