Haynos finds fit with Packers

Baltimoresun.com staff

Joey Haynos didn't spend much time in front of the TV last Saturday.

The former Maryland tight end went into NFL draft weekend knowing that if he was going to get picked, it would be in the later rounds.

So when Sunday came along, Haynos was joined by about 20 friends and family members at his Rockville home. He didn't know when or if he'd get drafted, but Haynos had his eye on a few teams. The Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars had all contacted him during the weekend, expressing interest and telling him they'd hopefully be in touch.

But the phone call never came.

Haynos had his hopes up at one point in the seventh round. The Falcons were on the clock with the 25th pick (232nd overall), and they had been one of the teams that called Haynos. Atlanta chose a tight end, but it was LSU's Keith Zinger, a player known more for his blocking abilities than receiving (three catches, 51 yards last season).

"I was kind of bummed, but I got over it," Haynos said. "I knew it would be in the later rounds or free agency, so I was prepared for that."

Sixteen tight ends were selected in the 2008 draft, a slightly higher number than the previous couple seasons. Thirteen were taken in 2007, and 15 were drafted in 2006.

With the final few picks going off the board Sunday evening, Haynos' phone started to ring. The Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers wanted Haynos to sign on as an undrafted free agent. After some discussion with his agent Scott Smith, Haynos decided Green Bay was the right place for him.

"The offensive coordinator called and told me what kind of offense they run and their situation with tight ends," Haynos said. "I talked to my agent, we looked over the roster and decided Green Bay was the best fit."

The Packers currently have three other tight ends on their roster. Donald Lee broke out last year, catching 48 balls for 575 yards and six touchdowns.

Tory Humphrey joined the Packers in 2005 after going undrafted and being waived by the Colts. He's battled health issues the past two years, missing seven games at the end of 2006 because of an injured hamstring and all of 2007 with a broken bone in his ankle.

The third Packers tight end is a rookie, Jermichael Finley from Texas, who was selected with the 28th pick in the third round (91st overall). Finley was the seventh tight end taken overall.

As for Haynos, while he would have liked to be drafted, he was prepared for this scenario.

"I was optimistic but definitely prepared for going somewhere as a free agent," Haynos said. "It wasn't shocking. I didn't go into depression. I knew it was a possibility and when it happened, I was prepared for it."

Overall, only one Maryland player was picked -- defensive tackle Dre Moore, who was chosen by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 16th pick of the fourth round (115th overall).

"I was very surprised, but it happens" Haynos said. "I thought for sure Erin Henderson and Andrew Crummey would get drafted. But they're great players and they're going to do well."

A total of six Maryland players found homes as undrafted free agents.

Haynos' next step comes this weekend when he'll take part in a rookie minicamp in Green Bay. The Packers selected nine players in the 2008 draft and added 13 more as undrafted free agents. The schedule, according to Haynos, includes lifting in the morning, along with meetings and practice.

While he has never been to Wisconsin, Haynos will see one familiar face. The Packers selected LSU quarterback Matt Flynn with the second pick of the seventh round (209th overall). Haynos got to know Flynn at Tom Shaw's camp in Orlando, Fla., where they trained with several other players for the NFL combine.

Along with Shaw's camp, Haynos has played in the Hula Bowl, spent time in Indianapolis at the combine and tried to impress scouts at Maryland's Pro Day in the past four months. It's been a hectic stretch since the Terps lost to Oregon State in the Emerald Bowl.

Five years ago, he came to College Park as a preferred walk-on with the Terps. Now, he'll essentially try to do the same thing with the Packers.

"Once it was a done deal and I was basically signed with the Packers, I was just happy the process was over," Haynos said. "I'm excited to get a chance to play for an NFL team."


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