331 NFL draft hopefuls are gathered in Indianapolis yesterday for the NFL Combine and the event (or series of events) is an important step for each prospective NFL player. One player that Packernation has its eye on is Hunter Henry, the tight end out of Arkansas. Henry is projected as a late first rounder and and the Packers pick at number 27. The pick would fill the need for a pass catching tight end with speed that the Packers have not had since Jermichael Finley. Henry can attack the deep middle and create matchup problems and a weapon like that in the hands of Aaron Rodgers and Co. could be special. But the Packers will NOT pick him. Here’s why:
Reason #1 – Henry won’t be at the top of the Packers’ board.
Ted Thompson drafts best player available. If two players are very similar, they choose first based on positional priority and only then do they consider need. This works against Hunter Henry. While Henry is projected as a first round pick, he is not widely considered one of the top 32 players in this year’s draft. To pick Henry at number 27 would be a reach and the Packers’ brass do not reach. Of course, Henry is a very good player so if they pass him up at 27, they will miss out on him altogether. Add to that the fact that Henry plays tight end. This position is very important in the Packers scheme but cannot be valued over an OT, and there will likely be a very good one left. Packers will have at least three players higher on their board when it is time to turn in their card.
Reason #2 – Richard Rodgers
Rodgers is not a speed burner by any vast, sweeping stretch of the imagination. But he has chemistry with the other, all-important Rodgers on the Packers’ team and made clutch catches from time to time. The “Miracle in Motown” was not the only time Rodgers to Rodgers was successful when the team needed it. Richard Rodgers has shown himself to be enough of a play-maker that the Packers will be in no hurry to draft a tight end. And Richard Rodgers did more than just catch balls. When the Packers’ O-line was decimated and the offense had to keep the tight end in for help with blocking…Rodgers did an admirable job.
So if Henry is still on the board, the Packers will look at his name, a few spots from the top, think about Richard Rodgers, and quickly turn to the players they are interested in.
Reason #3 – Developmental players
When the Packers put Andrew Quarless on IR last season, it may have signaled the end of his time in Green Bay. An unrestricted free agent, Quarless will likely find work but with the Packers having developmental players like Justin Perillo and Kennard Backman on the roster, they will likely let Quarless go. The injury came at a bad time but it gives the Packers every reason to part with the guy on good terms.
Perillo did an admirable job during the pre-season and had some important catches in the couple games he played in. Perillo bulked up, gaining 10 pounds and worked on his footwork and for a guy who was only active for seven games, did well. Justin, along with Kennard Backman are ascending players who fit the Packers “draft and develop” philosophy. Picking Hunter Henry would fit that philosophy too…it just isn’t going to happen.
So while Hunter Henry would be a great addition to the Packers’ offense, and would definitely fill the need for a tight end with speed on this team, he is a long way from becoming a Packer. The reasons above alone are enough to think the Packers will have another name on the card at pick 27. But this scenario assumes that Henry is available and that may not even be the case since many other need-based teams could pick him up before the Packers are even on the clock. Let these teams reach for Hunter Henry, the Packers will stand pat and take best player available.