UCLA Tight End Prepares for NFL Draft with Rodgers' Brother

UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria has been working out with Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers in preparation for April's NFL Draft.

UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria. Photo by Brian Carriveau of CheeseheadTV.com.

In preparation for the upcoming NFL Draft, UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria had been working out with a name most likely familiar to Green Bay Packers fans: a quarterback called Rodgers.

Actually, the Rodgers Fauria was practicing with was Aaron's younger brother Jordan, who played at Vanderbilit and is also eligible for April's Draft. The pair had been working out together in Irvine, California before the NFL Combine.

So how would Fauria like to be catching passes from the elder Rodgers for a living?

"I would not mind that at all," said Fauria.

For Fauria, the NFL Draft represents life coming nearly full circle. One of his earliest memories is hearing his uncle's name being called by the Seattle Seahawks in the second round of the 1995 Draft.

When you're a Fauria, being a tight end runs in your blood. Uncle Christian played the position for 13 years of professional football, twice being a Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots.

Christian retired after a 2007 season spent with the Carolina Panthers, and now Joseph is taking up the torch, hoping to become the next in line to play at the NFL level and putting to use some of the lessons passed down to him by his uncle.

"He's definitely laid some knowledge on me, but at the same time, it's different, different kind of position than it was then," said Fauria.

The younger Fauria knows there's a new breed of tight end in the NFL these days, the type that's tall, fast, athletic, able to stretch the field and create mismatches with shorter safeties and linebackers covering them.

Standing 6-7, Fauria knows he fits the prototype that's sweeping the league.

"I think it's more than a perfect time to be out here and be a tight end of my stature and my skill set," said Fauria. "I'm excited. I think I can make a splash immediately. I have full confidence in that. It's not cockiness, it's confidence."

Thanks to his height, length and body build, Fauria was a red zone target for UCLA his senior season and led the nation among all tight ends with 12 receiving touchdowns.

Fauria was also part of the reason UCLA was the Pac-12 South division champ in 2012 and at 9-5, had their best record in seven years. It was a renaissance under new head coach Jim Mora, who imparted his knowledge of the NFL to his college players.

It's now up to Fauria to put that knowledge and his prep basketball experience to use. If there's an NFL player or two Fauria thinks his game resembles, it's Tony Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham: tight ends with a hoops pedigree.

Perhaps surprisingly, Fauria also played high school volleyball, a typically uncommon sport of choice for a football player.

What Fauria's multi-sport background has helped to prove is that the movement skills are there. Playing in a spread offense in college, however, had its drawbacks.

In order to convince teams to invest a draft choice in him, Fauria knows he has to prove that he can be a blocker too.

With only one year left on Jermichael Finley's contract, it's possible the Packers will be interested in adding help at the tight end position during the draft. One question might be, in which round do they select a tight end?

The answer to that question likely depends upon how the draft unfolds and how the board falls to them. As for Fauria, he has no clue what round  he'll be taken.

"I've personally heard from sneaking into the second all the way to the seventh, so it's a pretty big gap," said Fauria.

Whenever Fauria hears his name called, perhaps it will be the Packers turning in the card with his name on it, and those days of a Rodgers throwing him a football can continue.

Brian Carriveau is the author of "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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Comments (3)

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Lars's picture

March 27, 2013 at 01:52 pm

Great read. Very few blogs news outlets bother to mention or include this guy in their analysis. I could easily see him in GB with a day 3 pick.

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MarkinMadison's picture

March 27, 2013 at 02:06 pm

Looks like a great developmental prospect. Would be a great guy to groom to replace Finley in '14.

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redlights's picture

March 27, 2013 at 09:37 pm

What were his combine numbers?

Nice story, Brian.

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