Today, we’ll start with one question, and some possible answers – if you agree, and if you disagree, let me know. I write these draft alerts as a conversation and hope you, the reader, will respond with your own questions and answers.
Jermichael Finley is due nearly $4.5 million tomorrow, Sunday, March 27. So far today, March 26, there’s been no discussion, no blog posts and most importantly, no word from the Packers’ or Finley’s camps about the status of that big wad of money projected to land in his bank account.
That’s probably a good thing for Finley. Most likely, the talented, but mercurial tight end will be locked up to fulfill the final season of a two-year contract with the Packers.
But today’s questions are whether the Packers have any intention of inking Finley to another extension – this one being a long-term contract that would keep him in Green Bay for at least 3-5 more years. So, will the Packers commit to Finley and more importantly, will they utilize either their first or second round draft picks on a tight end?
With the defection of Greg Jennings to the Minnesota Vikings and the fact that the Packers have been nonexistent in free agency, I feel that Finley will be retained. Head Coach Mike McCarthy has been too high on the young tight end the past couple of months and General Manager Ted Thompson hasn’t said anything to make one think that they will eject Finley.
Though Bob McGinn wrote months ago that that Packers were going to part ways with Finley, to date it hasn’t happened and with time running tight on the deadline, it appears they won’t pull the trigger on a release or trade.
So, if the Packers keep Finley for one more season, what are their options for the future? They allowed back Tom Crabtree to sign with Tampa Bay and it doesn’t seem McCarthy is sky high about any of the other backups – Andrew Quarless, D.J. Williams, and Ryan Taylor – so do the Packers look to this year’s draft for tight end? And if so, do they look to the first couple of rounds for a top-notch candidate?
Both are superb athletes who would fit will into the Packers system, though Eifert, athletically, took the lead in draft position by his performance at the Combine.
Depending upon how much stock you put into the Combine numbers, Eifert does seem to be the top choice, but there are plenty of other tight end-hungry teams that may snatch him up before the Packers’ pick at #26. Would they trade up for Eifert? That’s doubtful. In fact, I am doubtful the Packers would draft a tight end with their first pick. They are most likely to go offensive or defensive line or possibly even a safety.
So if we’re looking into the second or third rounds for a tight end, then Ertz becomes a possibility, but so do players such as Jordan Reed of Florida, Gavin Escobar of San Diego State, Travis Kelce of Cincinnati or even Ryan Otten of San Jose State.
If the Packers do indeed have a tight end in their sights for a first round pick, the safe selection would be Eifert. He’s the whole package. However, if the Packers wait until the second or third round to address the position, then they most likely will be choosing from among the likes of Escobar, Kelce, and Otten.
If I were general manager, I would hold on a tight end into the second or third round and would target either Escobar or Kelce. Escobar is the more polished receiver, but is a project when it comes to run blocking, while Kelce is the opposite – he’s a fierce blocker, but a project in developing as a pass-catching tight end. If the Packers want a tight end who catches the ball well, but need work in blocking, then they go with someone like Escobar.
Or they just roll the dice and go first round and hope that either Eifert or Ertz are available.
Either way, in my opinion, Finley will be gone after 2013, so the Packers need to draft a tight end replacement if they want their offense to continue to click as seemlessly as it has in the past.