FanSided released their week 16 2014 NFL mock draft, and with the Green Bay Packers moved down two spots in the first round after winning in Dallas, Jose Sanchez (FanSided’s NFL draft analyst) has Green Bay selecting tight end Eric Ebron from North Carolina with the 18th overall pick.
For three weeks in a row, Ebron has been the Packers choice in FanSided’s weekly mock draft. It’s apparent many believe tight end will be the Packers’ biggest need going into the 2014 season.
At this point, it appears only tight ends Ebron and Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro have first-round grades.University of Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins is another tight end that could sneak into the first round with a strong combine, but most likely, he’ll still be available in the second round.
The Packers definitely value tight ends. McCarthy likes to keep his roster well saturated at the position and use multiple tight end formations. The Ebron selection makes sense for Green Bay, especially if Jermichael Finley doesn’t return to the team next year.
Ebron is the most athletic tight end in this year’s draft class. He can split out wide and possesses the speed to burn linebackers and slower defensive backs downfield. For the most part, Ebron has good hands, but he can drop a pass occasionally when he’s contested over the middle.
Ebron needs to play a little stronger when going up for the ball in coverage, and he still needs to improve leaps and bounds in run blocking. The junior out of North Carolina has all the tools to be a big-time playmaker in the NFL, but he has still yet to put it all together, in my opinion.
Like we’ve said before when analyzing the Packers’ projected first round selection, Green Bay may decide to use their first pick by addressing the defense and take a tight end in a later round.
Iowa’s C.J. Fiedorowicz would be a good pick in the second or third round, for example. He may be the most complete tight end in this year’s draft. He’s certainly the best blocking tight end out of the top prospects at the position, and he has pretty good hands too. Although he lacks elite athleticism, he has a good 6-6, 265-pound frame that makes him a big target over the middle of the field. Some have compared Fiedorowicz to Pittsburg’s Heath Miller.
The Packers will definitely need to add depth to the tight end position after this season, but with Andrew Quarless stringing together two strong performances, maybe Green Bay won’t be as desperate to find a clear starting tight end in the draft as we initially thought.
Quarless may not be on Finley’s level, but he seems to be an adequate starter. He’s recorded 12 receptions for 122 yards and two touchdowns in the past two weeks. If he finishes the season strong then maybe Green Bay can afford to take a tight end later in the draft. They could aim to just add depth behind Quarless on the roster and not feel the pressure to find their starter for the future at the position.
Tight end may not be the top need going into next season it initially appears to be. In my opinion, the Packers defense continues to be the concern going forward. Really, they could just pick the best available defensive player in the first round.
They could use help at every position on the defensive side of the ball–They need a starting-caliber safety alongside Morgan Burnett. They’ll need to replenish their defensive line with Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, Johnny Jolly, and C.J. Wilson all set to hit free agency. They could use another playmaker at linebacker, and having another talented corner never hurts in today’s NFL.
Despite Ebron being a top-tier talent in this year’s draft class, the Packers can afford to wait on tight end, in my opinion, and should spend their first round selection on defense.