This is the next in a series of articles providing an in-depth analysis of each position group on the Green Bay Packers for 2023. Today we will analyze the tight ends. The grades will be for each unit as a whole, but we will give an analysis of each player, their strengths and weaknesses and where they stand heading into the offseason. Here are the grades for the Packers tight ends in 2023. The marks are based on a combination of expectations and performance.

You can see our final grade for the quarterbacks here and for the defensive line here. The running backs are here and the inside linebackers here.

Final Grade for the Packers Starting Tight Ends

Second-round pick Luke Musgrave won the starting tight end job right out of training camp. The former Oregon State star provided the Packers with a downfield threat at the position that they haven’t had in more than a decade.

Early in the season, quarterback Jordan Love often had difficulty accurately throwing deep, but that improved drastically as the season progressed. Musgrave also upgraded his footwork and ability to run after the catch downfield.

His best game came in the Packers Week 3 win over New Orleans when Musgrave made six catches for 49 yards. He matched the six catches two games later against the Raiders.

Musgrave suffered a lacerated kidney in the Packers win over the Chargers which caused him to miss six games. He returned for the season finale and the playoffs. By the end of the season, Musgrave tied Bubba Franks 23-year-old Packers franchise record for most catches by a rookie tight end with 34. He gained 352 yards and scored one touchdown. Musgrave had an impressive catch percentage of 73.9 percent.

While Musgrave was not a great blocker, he was willing and did improve as he gained experience.

Final Grade for the Packers Primary Backup Tight Ends

When Musgrave was injured, third-round pick Tucker Kraft ascended to the starting tight end spot. Kraft wasn’t as dangerous a deep threat as Musgrave, but his strength was running after the catch.

Kraft started eight games and played in all 17 as a rookie. The South Dakota State product finished the season with 31 catches for 355 yards and two touchdowns. He became Love’s most reliable checkdown option when under pressure and helped keep the chains moving.

Early in the season, Kraft was primarily used as a blocker. His pass blocking was rated significantly higher than his run blocking.

The Other Packers Tight Ends

Third string tight end Ben Sims made the team in training camp and played in all 17 games. He played 17 percent of the Packers offensive snaps and also contributed on special teams.

Sims caught four passes on six targets for 21 yards and a touchdown. His primary job was to block and to fill in when necessary.

Veteran H-back/fullback Josiah Deguara saw his role on offense diminish as Musgrave and Kraft took on bigger roles. He played only 20 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, the lowest number of his four-year NFL career. His run blocking was better than his pass blocking.

Deguara caught eight passes this season on eight targets for 65 yards. He also contributed on special teams. His rookie contract is up, and he may not be back with the Pack in 2024. The other three tight ends are all still on their rookie deals.

Depth at Tight Ends and Fullback/H-Back

Fullback/H-back Henry Pearson spent the season on the practice squad. He was elevated for two games and played 11 snaps on offense and 23 on special teams. His primary role was as a blocker. He did not run or catch the ball this season.

Pearson signed a futures contract and should be back to compete for a job in training camp in 2024.

The Packers added Joel Wilson to the practice squad when Musgrave was hurt in late November. The Central Michigan alum was never elevated to the active roster and will fight for a job in camp next season.

Final Grade for the Packers 2023 Tight Ends

Both Musgrave and Kraft had strong rookie seasons. They both improved as the season progressed and they got more comfortable in the offense. As a duo, they could give the Packers their most dangerous receiving duo at tight end since Keith Jackson and Mark Chmura in 1996.

The future looks bright at this position, and it is unlikely tight end will be a major need for the Packers this offseason although GM Brian Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur could look for another H-Back/fullback to replace Deguara if he does not return. That would likely be late on day three of the draft or signing an undrafted free agent.





Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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