Tight end is a top need on the Packers roster going into this spring, and as one of the top prospects at the position in this draft, Vannett could be a player Green Bay targets in one of the early rounds.
One of the bigger tight ends in this class, towering at 6-foot-6 and 257 pounds, Vannett also possesses tremendous athleticism and agility for his size. He impressed a lot of people at the NFL Combine this past weekend, posting position-best marks in the 20-yard (4.20 sec.) and 60-yard shuttle (11.50 sec.).
Vannett reportedly looked great in position drills as well, and is now building momentum leading up to the draft after putting together an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl in late January. At this point, he’s clearly one of the best tight ends in this draft and would instantly bring a well-balanced offensive weapon to the Packers roster.
At Ohio State, he was a dominant run blocker, but he also recorded 55 receptions for 585 yards and six touchdowns, while starting 15 games. Vannett made the plays when the ball was thrown his way, but the general consensus by many is that he was severely under-utilized in the Buckeyes offense and still has a lot more to offer in the passing game.
Many project his production in the NFL to be even better than it was in college, and this could make him a steal in the draft for a team like the Packers desperately looking for a guy to make plays over the middle of the field on offense.
Considering Vannett is an obvious fit with the Packers in the draft, I recently reached out to him to get his thoughts on his draft preparation and what he brings to the field for any team that selects him this April.
Vannett was kind enough to take the time to answer my questions. Here is what he had to say about his game, what he’s working on improving before the draft, and what it would mean to him to play in the NFL.
Nick Vannett Q&A
Q. I’ve heard many draft analysts speak highly of you and regard you as one of the better tight end prospects going into the draft, but before we talk about your game, let’s talk about your collegiate career. In your time at Ohio State, your program has seen a lot of success. What did being a Buckeye mean to you?
Vannett: Having grown up around Columbus my whole life, the Ohio State Buckeyes is all I’ve ever known. When I was little, I used to look up to Ohio State players like they were gods. It truly is a dream come true to play for the team I grew up rooting for.
Q. What is your favorite memory or game in your collegiate career?
Vannett: My favorite memory is scoring a touchdown and winning the National Championship last year. All the adversity that we were dealt with and overcame throughout the season to win it all is what made that year so special.
Q. For those that may not be familiar with your collegiate career, describe your style of play. What kind of tight end are you? What are your strengths as a player?
Vannett: Before coming to Ohio State, I was always considered a receiver. I wasn’t very physical or a very good blocker when I first came in, in my opinion. I took pride in trying to become a guy that can both catch and block. Coach Hinton has really helped me develop into an all around tight end over the years. I believe that’s what makes me stand out in this draft class is that I can do it both very well.
Q. What do you feel is the most underrated part of your game?
Vannett: I think really as a player I’m underrated. With all the many weapons we had on offense at Ohio State, it is tough to spread the ball around and get those touches. I was asked to block last year more than I’ve ever had to, but I really embraced the role to put the team in the best position possible. I want to show that I can be a consistent receiving threat as well as a reliable blocker.
Q. Tight ends are asked to do so much on the field nowadays. What is your favorite aspect of the position?
Vannett: Out of all the things that tight ends are required to do, I’ve always loved to catch the ball. I just like to be the playmaker and do whatever I can to help the offense drive the ball downfield.
Q. Are there any NFL players (past or present) that you study, model your game after, or feel you draw comparisons to?
Vannett: Whenever I’m watching an NFL game, I’m always studying the tight end and learning what they do well. I believe that Gronkowski is the best true tight end that can do it all. I shoot to emulate his style of play.
Q. With the NFL Draft only a couple of months away, what are some things you’ve been doing this spring to make an impression on scouts and increase your chances of getting drafted?
Vannett: After the bowl game I spent a lot of time training to prep for the Senior Bowl and Combine. I wanted to focus on refining my skills on the field and in the film room and do as much as I can to impress teams down in Mobile and during the Combine.
Q. Were there specific areas of your game you were focusing on improving?
Vannett: I’ve been spending a lot of time working on improving my route running, as well as my elusiveness after the catch.
Q. The Green Bay Packers will be looking to the draft this spring to improve their tight end position, and we feel you’re a guy they’ll seriously consider selecting. What could you bring to a team like the Packers if they drafted you in April?
Vannett: I think what a team would get is a guy who is going to put in the work on and off the field, and someone who can be a third down tight end that can make a block or get the first down.
Q. How would you feel about playing for an organization like the Packers?
Vannett: It would be very humbling. All of that history and rich tradition the Packers have would be awesome to experience and be apart of. Especially getting the chance to play with one of the best quarterbacks in the game. Aaron Rodgers makes players around him better. It would be cool to pick his brain about the game.
Q. Regardless of who drafts you, what will that moment mean to you when you finally hear your name called and you’re officially in the NFL?
Vannett: This is what every kid dreams of being a part of. I’ve always dreamt to be in the NFL. To hear that phone call on draft day would be one of the coolest moments of my life. Knowing that all the hard work that you put in over the years and seeing it pay off is greater than any feeling you can have.
Q. Tell us a little bit more about yourself before I let you go. How did you first get into the game of football?
Vannett: Growing up as a kid, I was very involved and active with sports all year around. I loved to play football in the backyard with my buddies around the neighborhood and was pretty good at it. However, my parents wouldn’t sign me up to play because the sport was dangerous. At the time I was on my country club’s swim team just for the conditioning part of it. I told my dad in 5th grade that if I swim this summer coming up that he hast to sign me up for football in the fall. He agreed and the rest was history. Before football I played travel soccer and was mainly a goalie.
Q. Finally, when you’re away from football, what do you like to do in your free time?
Vannett: When I’m not playing football, I’m always back at my apartment hanging around with other teammates or going to the movies. Football usually takes it out of me, so I like to lay around and relax when I’m not busy with the game.