If the Green Bay Packers are looking for a value pick at the tight end position in this spring’s NFL Draft, Nick O’Leary might be a logical pick – and not just because he has a very unique family pedigree.
You see, O’Leary’s dad, Bill, was a tight end at the University of Georgia, while his mom was also an athlete for the Bulldog’s volleyball team.
But even more interesting is the fact that his grandfather is the greatest golfer to ever swing a club – “The Golden Bear” Jack Nicklaus.
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Coming out of Dyer High School in Palm Beach, Fla., O’Leary was a highly touted prospect. During his senior year he hauled in 51 receptions for 875 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also starred for the basketball and track teams.
As a true freshman, O’Leary would see playing time in all 13 games during the 2011 season for the Seminoles. He would also be the starter at tight end for two of those games. In his inaugural campaign with FSU, O’Leary would finish with 12 receptions for 164 yards and a touchdown.
O’Leary’s playing time as a sophomore would greatly increase.
While starting only two games as a freshman, O’Leary would start 11 of 13 games in his second year, while improving his final stat sheet to include 21 receptions for 252 yards and 3 touchdowns.
It would be O’Leary’s junior season that would see him explode onto the scene, however.
His 33 receptions for 557 yards and 7 touchdowns would land him on the list as a finalist for the John Mackey Award – an award given out to the nation’s top tight end.
Nick O’Leary would also enjoy a BCS National Championship during his junior season.
The accolades for O’Leary would roll in during his final season for the Seminoles. The consensus All-American would also take home the John Mackey Award, thereby acknowledging him as the most outstanding tight end in the country.
He would also set the career receptions mark for a tight end at Florida State with 114 receptions.
During his time at FSU, O’Leary was part of a National Championship winning team as well as three consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference championships. He is no stranger to success or to big games.
At six-foot-three and 247 pounds, O’Leary is certainly a physical specimen, but he won’t be blowing the doors off of defenders on his way to 80-plus-yard touchdown receptions.
What he does provide a team is one of the surest non-glove wearing set of hands that a quarterback could enjoy. O’Leary is also an excellent route-runner and for his size, a blocker as well.
Though he may not possess breakaway speed, his burst off the line is impressive. Another good trait he puts on the table is his ability to play the H-back.
Many experts compare O’Leary to the great Dallas Clark. Clark was also an undersized tight end coming out of the University of Iowa. Yet, at six-foot-three and 252 pounds the Indianapolis Colts drafted him with the 24th overall pick.
O’Leary is projected as a third to fourth round pick by most – at the current moment. If O’Leary can duplicate the 505 career receptions for 5,665 yards and 53 touchdowns of Clark – that would be a steal.
Packers tight end Richard Rodgers (89) catches a touchdown during the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports photograph
Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy are most likely not satisfied with the current crop of tight ends for the Green Bay Packers. One would have to assume, however, that Andrew Quarless and Richard Rodgers’ roster spots are secure.
If the Packers are looking to add a big-bodied physical speedster at this position, O’Leary is not the fit.
Should the Packers choose to go the route of a sure-handed reliable tight end that would vastly improve red zone performance, O’Leary is the perfect fit.
Nick O’Leary may not fall into the “need” department on Thompson’s draft board, but when the third round rolls around and O’Leary is still in the pool, it would be difficult for Thompson not to pick up the phone and make him a member of the Green Bay Packers.