For years Aaron Rodgers has been elevating the play of guys like Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan. With Rodgers all but out the door and Tonyan leaving in free agency, the Packers find themselves with Josiah Deguara as their current top tight end.
Given the Packers’ recent lack of success in drafting tight ends in the middle to late rounds, it’s understandable fans are urning for the Green and Gold to take someone like Michael Mayer, Dalton Kincaid, or Darnell Washington in either the first or second round.
But Green Bay has other pressing needs. Edge, wide receiver, safety, and interior lineman are all likely candidates to get called to the podium early for the Packers. If they aren’t able to address the tight end position early there is an all time athletic freak that the Packers could land on day three.
Meet potential steal of the draft, Zack Kuntz.
Kuntz from Old Dominion might be the most interesting tight-end prospect that we will ever see. At 6’8″ and 255 lbs, Kuntz is NFL-ready in terms of his size. It’s his athleticism that has people talking. Kuntz lit up the combine with a 40-inch vertical, a 40-yard-dash time of 4.55 seconds, and a broad jump of 10 feet and 8 inches. He recorded a perfect 10.00 RAS score! He is the only tight end in draft history to post this score.
Though Kuntz may seem anonymous this hasn’t always been the case. He was initially a 5-star recruit when he first committed to Penn State. After two years of not seeing the field much, thanks in part to future second-round pick Pat Freiermuth, he transferred to Old Dominion.
In the 2021 season, Kuntz broke out with 692 yards on 73 catches at ODU. He likely would’ve been an upper middle round guy at least had he come out after that season. Unfortunately this past season, Kuntz was shut down after just five games thanks to a season-ending injury. So though the RAS score and combine results are enough to see Kuntz get drafted, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about his play due to his lack of sample size. Perfect late round superstar material.
Kuntz fits the mold of a receiving tight end. He excels in both taking the top off of defenses and getting yards after the catch. His speed allows him to challenge defenders deep in a way NFL tight ends are not capable. When downfield he displays excellent ball-tracking skills while also proving that he can adjust to underthrown balls.
Kuntz’s hands are soft. He demonstrates good hand-eye coordination and a body control that allows him to make tough grabs. Despite a poor contested catch rate in his final season at ODU an argument can be made that those numbers were inflated due to both the amount of inaccurate throws and Kuntz’s unbelievable ability to turn what might be an uncatchable ball for another tight end into an attempt for himself.
During his time at Old Dominion Kuntz lined up mostly in the slot and was able to showcase his ability to get a quick release off the line. But, like most things with the athletic tight end, this lacked consistency.
A major concern surrounding Kuntz is his occasional struggles to get separation through his routes. He has the speed and athleticism to create separation but sometimes it doesn’t click as he tries to be precise and give the space needed for his quarterback to find him. This downside would make him an ideal developmental project. If you had somebody like a Mercedes Lewis still around instead of on their way to New York.
Kuntz certainly isn’t an NFL blocker at this point. He will need to improve in this area significantly. He rarely served as a traditional in-line tight end, though, he was starting to see more snaps in this role this season. Camp reputation could quickly tell you of this was an opportunity problem vs an ability problem.
Best case Kuntz could potentially come to the Packers as a day-three pick and challenge for a starting spot immediately if he can make good on his potential. His ability to stretch the field could take pressure off Christian Watson, who is the only vertical threat on the team at the moment.
Worst case scenario you drafted the most athletic tight end in the history of the NFL draft and you can give him time to develop.
Waiting to select him will also allow the Packers to use their earlier picks on areas of greater significance instead of trying to splurge on what might be considered a luxury position.
Some mocks have Kuntz going as high as the fourth round, with most having him in the 5th through 7th. Given his athleticism, fourth round is a reasonable place to take Kuntz, but he’s a no-brainer if he falls all the way to the seventh round where the Packers hold four picks.