Green Bay Packers: Austin Seferian-Jenkins

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Armed with three selections on Day 2 of the NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers are spending the day plotting their strategy for picks Nos. 53 (second round), 85 and 98 (both in the third round).

After taking Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round -- a move that ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. called one of the winners of Day 1 Insider -- the Packers reset their draft board to reflect the best players still available.

If their grades on the players still available at 53, 85 and 98 fit their needs, here is who they might consider:

Linebackers: Notes: Borland, Brown and Skov would all project as inside linebackers in the Packers’ 3-4 scheme. Kiper Jr. ranked Van Noy, an outside linebacker, as the fifth-best player still available Insider, and Borland as the 12th. In his second-round mock draft Insider, Kiper Jr. predicted Borland to the Packers at No. 53. He wrote: “This would be a steal. He's not a physical freak, but Borland is a football freak. Slots in next to A.J. Hawk.”

Tight ends:
Amaro
Notes: If the Packers are going to get an impact tight end, they probably need to do it on Friday, because the drop off after these four is significant. Seferian-Jenkins and Amaro are receiving tight ends in the mold of Jermichael Finley, while Fiedorowicz and Niklas are more traditional players. Scouts Inc. has the Packers taking Amaro in its updated second-round mock draft Insider.

Receivers:
Lee
Notes: Lee could be one of the first players off the board when the draft resumes, so it's unlikely the Packers would be in position to take him unless they traded up. Keep in mind that they cannot trade No. 98 because it is a compensatory pick at the end of the third round. Lee and Landry are smaller receivers in the 5-foot-11 range, and Ellington is even smaller at 5-9 3/8. The Packers might want to go bigger at this spot, because they already have a dynamic slot receiver in Randall Cobb.

Centers:
Notes: The Packers are high on second-year pro JC Tretter as their possible next starting center, but the former collegiate tackle has yet to play an NFL snap at any position. There is a good chance all of these centers will be available at No. 53, with Martin and Richburg as likely late second-round picks who also could slip into the third round.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- After months and months of mock drafts and revised mock drafts and re-revised mock drafts, there is no more time to waffle.

Mosley
Shazier
So what does that mean for the Green Bay Packers if they stay at No. 21 in the first round of the NFL draft?

Let's take a look at what several local and national NFL writers and analysts see for the Packers (with links to their full first-round mock drafts):

Rob Demovsky, ESPN.com
  • Player: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
  • My take: With Eric Ebron, C.J. Mosley, Ryan Shazier, Odell Beckham Jr. and the top-two safeties off the board in our NFL Nation mock draft, a move back was intriguing. Even though the Packers re-signed Sam Shields, cornerback will be a need down the road with Tramon Williams getting up there in age, and Gilbert is too highly rated to pass up.
  • Note: With all due respect to my NFL Nation colleagues, I'm not sure I see the first 20 picks playing out the way it did in our draft, which was unveiled on Tuesday. I find it highly unlikely that all of those players I mentioned will be gone by the time the Packers pick. Given the opportunity to do the entire first round on my own, I believe there is a good chance at least one of those previously drafted players will be available. In that scenario, I think it would come down to Mosley or Shazier. On the contrary, I do not believe Gilbert will be available to the Packers at No. 21 as he was in our mock.
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN Insider
  • Player: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
  • Kiper Jr.'s take: I've had Mosley in this spot before, and it makes a lot of sense both as a value -- he's a top-15 player for me -- and also from the standpoint that he fills an obvious talent void at linebacker. He can line up next to A.J. Hawk and not only help the run defense, but also give the Packers a very good cover linebacker. The question for Mosley has been whether he can stay healthy, but he has stayed on the field and could be a pretty big steal at this point.
Todd McShay, ESPN Insider
  • Player: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
  • McShay's take: I would never put Lee here, as I think safety is a much bigger need (and the No. 1 safety on our board, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, is still available in this scenario) and there are probably four or five other positions that are bigger need areas for them than wide receiver. But I've heard that Lee won't get past the No. 21 pick, and he does make some sense in that they could get QB Aaron Rodgers another weapon -- and Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb's contracts are both up after this season. Clinton-Dix is probably the more logical choice, but we'll roll the dice on Lee based on what we're hearing.
Bob McGinn, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • Player: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
  • McGinn's take: The Packers need a safety but can't pass on Mosley, who would make it this far only if teams have reservations about his injury history. GM Ted Thompson seeks a safety (does he trade up?) a bit later.
Pete Dougherty, Green Bay Press-Gazette
  • Player: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
  • Dougherty's take: Packers need dynamic every-down player for heart of ‘D’.
Bill Huber, Packer Report
  • Player: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
  • Huber's take: Is he an inside linebacker? An outside linebacker? Why, yes, he is. If he's available, Ohio State's Ryan Shazier figures to be the Packers' selection as a potential three-down, game-changing weapon. However, will Shazier be available when Green Bay is on the clock at No. 21?
Paul Imig, FoxSportsWisconsin.com
  • Player: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
  • Imig's take: There is more depth in this draft at safety than there is at inside linebacker, giving the Packers an opportunity to perhaps land a quality safety such as Jimmie Ward or Deone Bucannon with their second-round pick. If Green Bay somehow walks away with Shazier and either Ward or Bucannon in the first two rounds, it will be a draft-weekend victory for Thompson.
Don Banks, Sports Illustrated
  • Player: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
  • Banks' take: This time around we don't foresee the Packers getting the safety they covet, because the highly regarded Clinton-Dix and Pryor went in the upper half of the round. But Mosley is a talented and productive three-down linebacker that Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers could make good use of. With Mosley and Julius Peppers both joining forces with Clay Matthews, the Packers' linebacking unit would look significantly improved in 2014.
Peter King, TheMMQB
  • Player: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
  • King's take: I wanted to put Ryan Shazier here, and that could well be Ted Thompson's pick. But the Packers have to like Mosley’s nose for the ball, and Green Bay's need at inside linebacker is big. This is a logical pick, and Thompson's a logical man.
Pat Kirwin, CBS Sports
  • Player: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
  • Kirwin's take: Shazier can do it all. He's fast, can drop in coverage, he can rush the passer and his 258 tackles in 39 games speaks for itself. Nine forced fumbles is just another indicator he's around the ball.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
  • Player: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
  • Prisco's take: They have to get faster and he plays faster than C.J. Mosley.
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com
  • Player: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
  • Jeremiah's take: Seferian-Jenkins would provide Aaron Rodgers with an enormous red-zone target.
Mike Mayock, NFL.com
  • Player: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
  • Mayock's take: Shazier is a linebacker made for today's NFL. He has 4.38 speed at 237 pounds and can play inside in the base and all over the place in sub-packages. He'll be an immediate playmaker.
Ourlands’ Scouting Service
  • Player: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
  • Ourlads' take: Darqueze is a plugin and play man-to-man defender. He is a physical corner in coverage and on run support. Reroutes receivers and keeps position on them. Has a closing burst when called on to blitz. An aggressive wrap tackler who is smart and instinctive.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Let's get this out of the way from the top: We know Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson does not draft for need -- or so he says.

But in the months leading up to this week's draft, Thompson and his scouts have spent hundreds of hours not only discussing the prospects who will be available to them but also their current roster and its strengths and weaknesses.

With that in mind, let's break the 12 position groups that make up the roster into four parts based on the following categories of draft needs.

We will define them this way:

Part 1: Negligible -- positions where there is little or no need.

Part 2: Non-essential -- positions where there is a need but it is not paramount to fill.

Part 3: Secondary -- positions where there is a need but not at the critical level.

Part 4: Pressing -- positions where it is imperative that help be found.

On Monday, we looked at the negligible needs, Nos. 10-12. On Tuesday, it was the non-essential needs, Nos. 7-9. On Wednesday, it was the secondary needs, Nos. 4-6.

Finally, the pressing needs.

1. Safety: The Packers thought so little of their 16-game starter at free safety last season, M.D. Jennings, that they did not even offer him a restricted free agent tender, and he signed a one-year, minimum deal with the Bears. Coach Mike McCarthy has said he plans to use Micah Hyde, who played a slot cornerback position last season, at safety this season. But it remains unclear whether that's enough to ignore this position in the draft for a second straight season. The Packers remain committed to strong safety Morgan Burnett, who signed a four-year, $24.75 million contract last July, but his play must improve. There are two sure-fire first-round safeties -- Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor -- but both could be gone by the time the Packers pick at No. 21.

Possible players of interest: Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois; Terrence Brooks, Florida State; Deone Bucannon, Washington State; Brock Vereen, Minnesota.

2. Inside linebacker: A.J. Hawk is coming off perhaps his best season, and the coaches love his durability and leadership. However, the other spot, occupied most of last season by Brad Jones, could be up for grabs even if they don't draft a possible starter. Jamari Lattimore and Sam Barrington could get a look there. But the Packers could use some speed up the middle of their defense, a weakness that was exposed again in the playoffs by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Possible players of interest: C.J. Mosley, Alabama; Ryan Shazier, Ohio State; Chris Borland, Wisconsin; Preston Brown, Louisville.

3. Tight end: The highest-paid tight end on the roster is Andrew Quarless, who signed a two-year, $3 million contract this offseason. That's hardly starter money anymore. The coaches have high hopes for Brandon Bostick, but he remains a bit of a project. Jermichael Finley is still unsigned, having so far failed to get clearance to return from his neck injury. That still could come, but the Packers probably can't afford to sit around and wait. They'd love a crack at the top tight end, North Carolina’s Eric Ebron, but he almost certainly will be gone by the time they pick.

Possible players of interest: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington; Jace Amaro, Texas Tech; Troy Niklas, Notre Dame; C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa.
INDIANAPOLIS -- One by one, the top tight ends in this year’s NFL draft rolled through Lucas Oil Stadium as part of Thursday’s interview session at the scouting combine.

There was Eric Ebron of North Carolina, Jace Amaro of Texas Tech, Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Washington, Troy Niklas of Notre Dame, C.J. Fiedorowicz of Iowa and on and on.

Most, if not all, were asked which NFL tight end they admired, emulated or resembled.

For some, like Ebron, it was San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis.

[+] EnlargeEric Ebron
Bob Donnan/USA TODAY SportsCarolina likely would have to trade up in the first round of the NFL draft to have a shot at selecting Eric Ebron.
For others, like Amaro and Fiedorowicz, it was the New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski.

For Seferian-Jenkins, it was the New Orleans Saints’ Jimmy Graham and the Denver Broncos’ Julius Thomas, who like him had a background in basketball.

Not one of them, however, mentioned Jermichael Finley.

Yet if the Green Bay Packers don’t bring back their starting tight end, which is a likely course of action given his neck injury and his expiring contract, one of those players could become the next Finley.

Most of the top tight end prospects said Thursday that they had either visited with the Packers or planned to talk with team representatives this week at the combine.

So too will Blake Baratz, the agent who represents Finley, but the Packers may have already decided that Finley’s neck fusion surgery was too much of a risk to bring him back. If that’s their plan, then there are plenty of viable options in this draft, which features playmaking tight ends of all sizes.

It starts with the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Ebron, who likely will be the first tight end taken in the draft and could be gone before the Packers pick at No. 21.

“I’m very fast; I’m very different,” said Ebron, who along with the other tight ends will do their on-field testing this weekend. “I play the tight end role like no one else.”

In some ways, he plays it like Finley, whose physical presence is similar to Ebron’s.

Amaro (6-5, 255) is as much receiver as he is tight end. Most of last season, when he caught 106 passes for 1,352 yards (the NCAA record for a tight end), he played standing up away from the line of scrimmage.

“That’s why I’m so unique,” Amaro said. “It’s kind of a revolution into the game and how the tight ends are coming in across the board. I like to see myself as both a tight end and a receiver.”

But can he block?

That’s not an issue with Fiedorowicz (6-5, 265), who was more of a blocking tight end in Iowa’s run-heavy offense.

“A lot of tight ends in the NFL are either blocking tight ends or receiving tight ends,” Fiedorowicz said. “I like watching Rob Gronkowski. He can dominate both the line of scrimmage and down the field.”

Seferian-Jenkins (6-5, 262) said he was asked to do both last season at Washington, where he played basketball as a freshman.

“At the tight end position, you’ve got a lot of great players [in this draft],” he said. “But what I think I do is if you watched me play, I split out and played receiver. I’ve done fullback. I’ve played in line. I think I’ve showed I’m very capable of being a playmaker down the seam and run regular routes as a receiver, and I’ve shown the capability of being a blocker.”

Niklas (6-6 , 270) might be the biggest bruiser of this bunch. He began his college career as an outside linebacker.

“I can block, and I enjoy blocking,” Niklas said. “I think it’s something I can use to my advantage.”

Further down the tight end pecking order is Jacob Pedersen of Wisconsin. He grew up just north of Green Bay in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He’s a late-round prospect who would love the chance to be the Packers' next tight end.

“Growing up 45 minutes away from Green Bay, obviously it’d be a childhood dream to play for your home team,” said Pedersen, one of six Badgers invited to the combine. “But I’m just hoping to get drafted by a team. Whoever takes me, they’re going to get my best effort.”

SPONSORED HEADLINES