Green Bay Packers: Should the Packers Draft a Tight End in the 1st Round?

Michael KimbleContributor IIIMarch 6, 2014

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 20:  Tight end Jermichael Finley #88 of the Green Bay Packers runs after a catch for a 10-yard touchdown reception during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field on October 20, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
Brian Kersey/Getty Images

The Packers have a variety of different needs to fill in the offseason, particularly on defense. The NFL draft will undoubtedly be a place where the Packers will look to fill those holes.

While many mock drafts have the Packers picking a defensive player, such as a safety, defensive lineman or linebacker, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay (via ESPN's Rob Demovsky) has recently come out with a mock draft that has the Packers picking Eric Ebron in the first round, which could be a surprising pick considering all of the Packers' holes on defense.

However, of all of the positions on the offensive side of the ball, tight end might be their biggest need. After Jermichael Finley sustained a severe neck injury in a game against the Cleveland Browns last year, he may not be re-signed by the Packers because they may be cautious about bringing back a player with such a serious injury.

Despite the apparent need, however, the Packers might not need to spend a high draft pick on the tight end position. Although the players they currently have are not on Finley's level of talent, they still could serve as solid role players for the Packers offense. Backup tight end Andrew Quarless was a serviceable replacement for Finley for most of 2013, and even young tight end Brandon Bostick could be a player the Packers look to as their potential future at the position.

Aaron Rodgers has proved he can throw to virtually any receiver and put them in a position to succeed, and with such a good receiving corps, the Packers might be able to do without an elite tight end, more so than being without a playmaker on defense, which is what they will certainly hope to pick up in the early rounds of the draft.

In addition, the Packers could wait to pick a tight end until the second or third round, which is where they drafted Finley. Although Finley hasn't been stellar throughout his career in Green Bay, many of the game's best tight ends were not drafted in the first round. Perhaps the best example is rising star Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints, who wasn't selected until the third round.

Drafting a tight end in the first round would be more of a luxury pick for a team that doesn't have many positions of need on their roster, and although the Packers have been one of the most successful teams in the league, they still have holes to fill, particularly on defense, which means that despite what the Packers already have on offense, they may not be able to afford such a pick.

Although McShay is right that Ebron would likely make the Packers offense even more potent and that tight end is a need for the Packers, Green Bay has bigger needs they must fill in the offseason, and unless they do that through free agency, drafting a tight end with the first pick would be a mistake that could hinder the improvement of their defense.

The Packers should consider a tight end in the draft, but not until the second or third round, once they have fixed the problems at safety, linebacker and defensive line.