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Wisconsin Tight End Compares Basketball Background To Finley

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Wisconsin Tight End Compares Basketball Background To Finley

Wisconsin's Lance Kendricks, one of the more highly rated tight ends in this year's draft class, can see a little bit of himself in the Packers' Jermichael Finley.

While at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Kendricks drew a parallel between their receiving aptitude and their background in basketball.

"His ability to catch the ball, and kind of––I guess––his basketball feel of the game," said Kendricks. "I also try to put that in my game too."

Finley was good enough to be offered a basketball scholarship at the University of Arizona before ultimately deciding to attend the University of Texas on a full ride for football instead.

Kendricks may not have been in the same class as Finley, but he wasn't a bad basketball player in his own right. He was a member of the high school state champion Milwaukee King boys basketball teams his freshman and sophomore years back in 2003 and 2004.

Like Finley, Kendricks' attention eventually turned to football. He finished his high school career as a wide receiver and was recruited to Wisconsin as such. It wasn't until he was at Wisconsin that a move to tight end was in store, which caught the Badger off guard.

"I kind of had this tunnel vision of 'this is what I'm going to do,'" said Kendricks. "It kind of hit me that I was going to change to tight end, so putting on weight and lifting a little bit more and learning the playbook and blocking, that was all new to me.

"So, I had to take a year or two to become accustomed to those things and get adjusted. I think I did a pretty good job at it."

To say he did "pretty good" at making the transition to tight end could be an understatement.

During a junior season in which he played second fiddle to fellow tight end Garrett Graham (now a member of the Houston Texans), Kendricks still managed to get more and more involved with the Wisconsin offense as the season wore on, culminating in a Champs Sports Bowl victory over the Miami Hurricanes where he had seven catches for 128 yards.

That led nicely into a senior season in which he had 43 receptions for 663 yards and five touchdowns and was named an Associated Press second-team All-American.

He's now on the precipice of a career in the NFL and a possible second-day draft choice.

Because of his athleticism and versatility, teams are looking at Kendricks in a variety of roles.

"They have me moving me everywhere," said Kendricks. "A lot of teams are looking for me to do a little bit of everything, so they'll have me wide, some true tight end things and some things off the ball."

He also experience as a lead blocker in the offensive backfield.

"I've done a ton of it in games and in practice," said Kendricks, "and learning how to read the A, B and C gap a part of that as well. I think that's also essential to kind of move on to the next level, just something else to be able to take with you if you need it."

Kendricks wouldn't be the first tight end with a basketball pedigree to make it to the NFL. He wouldn't the tenth.

For some reason tight ends and basketball seem to be en vogue, a fact not lost on Jordan Cameron––another draft prospect who first played college basketball at BYU before transferring and playing both sports at USC.

"I know of certain guys, like the guy last year, [Jimmy] Graham," Cameron. "He came in here, did a good job and got drafted. The Gates guy in San Diego, I know the history. Tony Gonzalez."

Cameron attempted to draw a connection between the two sports.

"I believe the tight end position has changed from what it was in the past," said Cameron. "You're seeing more guys getting vertical and moving a little better than before... more athleticism at the position has been shown in recent years."

Kendricks, who grew up a Packers fan and enjoyed seeing them win the Super Bowl, is less than two months away from hearing his name called in the draft.

So would he prefer it to be the Packers?

"It doesn't matter," said Kendricks. "As long as I have a good opportunity to get on the field would be a compliment."

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (6) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

POOCH's picture

Wow finley to the right Kendricks to the left,just dreaming

Nerdmann's picture

Quarless is gonna be very good. Not as good as Finley, but very good.

Tim's picture

Here's my new "dream draft" for the Packers:
1. Ben Ijalana RT Villanova
2. Sam Acho OLB Texas
3. Tandon Doss WR Indiana
3. Shane Vereen RB California
4. Jalil Brown CB Colorado
5. Thomas Kaiser OLB Stanford
6. Willie Smith OT East Carolina
7. Nate Enderle QB Idaho
7. Lazarius Levingston DL LSU

Your thoughts?

Nerdmann's picture

Can any of these guys return punts?

Tim's picture

Vereen can return punts and kickoffs.

bomdad's picture

Kendricks ability and experience blocking is impressive. Not alot of TEs line up in the backfield, he's smart to throw that into his interview.

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