The Green Bay Packers have a couple a glaring needs to be filled as they enter the 2014 NFL Draft. One of those need positions is at safety, where a new influx of talent is desperately needed. The other need is at tight end and if the Packers can land their safety in round one of the draft, round two will provide the perfect opportunity to address it.
Obviously, the Packers current need for a tight end is connected to the heath and status of tight end Jermichael Finley, who has been starting in Green Bay since 2009.
Finley is a special player that has transcendent talent. Guys like him don’t grow on trees and the Packers have stated they would like to bring him back once he is medically cleared but its becoming more an unknown when or if that will happen.
Thus, the Packers have to prepare like Finley will not be returning to Green Bay in 2014 and with just Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick and Ryan Taylor on the roster, a tight end needs to be found in the draft.
Luckily for the Packers, this draft is loaded with talent at tight end, which is why it makes perfect sense for Green Bay to target either Iowa’s C.J.Fiedorowicz or Notre Dame’s Troy Niklas in round 2.
There are a number of talented pass-catching tight ends in this draft and if the Packers are looking for someone solely to fill Finley’s role as a receiver, then Fiedorowicz and Niklas probably aren’t the right fit.
However, with the Packers planning to run the football more with Eddie Lacy, it may be time for Green Bay to draft a different type of tight end –one that is just as effective blocking as receiving — that’s where Fiedorowicz and Niklas come in.
Fiedorowicz is a 6’7, 260-pound tight end that is most comfortable playing in-line. He is a very skilled blocker and even though he may not flash the receiving talent of an Eric Ebron or Jace Amaro, he has still shown the ability to produce in the passing game.
The former Iowa standout started the past two seasons for the Hawkeyes and has his best pass-catching season as a junior, when he caught 45 passes for 433 yards and a touchdown. As a senior, he caught only 30 passes for 299 yards but also scored six touchdowns, as he established a greater presence in the red zone.
Fiedorowicz is not a blazer, he runs about a 4.7 forty-yard-dash and is not the type of tight end that will line up out wide very often. Yet, he is a complete tight end that can help the Packers continue to establish their physical brand of running the football, while also adding the red-zone presence the team missed when Finley was sidelined.
Niklas, a junior entry into the 2014 draft is built in a similar fashion to Fiedorowicz. The former Notre Dame tight end is listed at 6’6, 270-pounds and also runs the forty in around 4.7 seconds.
Niklas began his career at Notre Dame on the defensive side of the ball, before he was moved to tight end in order to take advantage of his athleticism. In 2012, he saw time in two-tight end sets but was used mostly as a blocker and caught just five passes for 75 yards.
This past season, the former Fighting Irish standout became the unquestioned starter and had a solid season receiving with 32 catches for 498 yards and five touchdowns. Furthermore, he is widely considered to be the best blocking tight end in this draft and because of his youth he still has plenty of room to grow in the passing game.
It’s certainly possible that both players are off the board by the time the Packers select in the second round but with the position being as deep as it is there is a good chance that either Fiedorowicz or Niklas fall to Green Bay.
If forced to choose between the two, I would say Niklas should rank slightly higher on the Packers wish list due to his upside, yet at this point both players would fill a huge need for Green Bay while also providing the team stability at the position in terms of a new long-term starter.