The Green Bay Packers are set to open training camp later this month. This is the next in a series of articles previewing the Packers position by position, analyzing the talent on the roster and discussing key questions that are facing the Packers as they begin preparation for the 2023 season. Today we examine the tight ends. For our look at the quarterbacks, click here, click here for the defensive line, here for running backs and here for inside linebackers. We will examine another position each day until the start of training camp.
Packers H-Backs and Fullbacks
Josiah Deguara is now the most experienced player in the tight end room. Head coach Matt LaFleur prefers to use Deguara as an H-Back or fullback and he will likely continue in that role this year. He may also see more time at traditional tight end depending on how quickly the team’s two rookie draft picks learn the offense.
The Packers use Deguara as a lead blocker and short-to-mid-range receiver. New starting quarterback Jordan Love is likely to throw to the middle of the field more often than his predecessor which may open more opportunities for Deguara.
If he stays healthy, the former University of Cincinnati star should see an increased role in the offense this season.
Battling for Backup Spots and a Place on the Roster
Henry Pearson is the only player listed as a fullback on the Packers training camp roster. They signed him as an undrafted free agent in May.
The Appalachian State alum played tight end in college but will fight for playing time as a fullback or H-Back and on special teams.
Packers Tight Ends: The Starters
Musgrave gives the Packers a size and speed combination at tight end that they haven’t had since Jermichael Finley’s career ended prematurely by injury a decade ago. He can stretch the field and creates mismatches with safeties because of his size and with linebackers because of his speed.
Musgrave impressed the coaching staff and his teammates at OTAs but still must prove he can be effective once the pads are on.
Tight ends typically take longer to adjust to the NFL game because of the multiple demands of the position so it will be important for Musgrave to pick up the offense quickly and contribute early.
The Packers drafted Tucker Kraft one round after Musgrave to double down on athletic tight ends. Kraft must make a bigger jump from South Dakota State to the NFL. He has strong athletic ability and having both Kraft and Musgrave learning together could help both players speed up the learning process.
LaFleur is expected to use his tight ends more in the offense this season and having multiple weapons like Musgrave and Kraft should help make that a more appealing option. The learning curve will be important for Kraft as well.
Battling for Backup Spots and a Place on the Roster
Tyler Davis seeks a bigger role in the offense as he enters his third season with the Packers. Thus far, the former Georgia Tech star has not caught more than four passes in a season.
Davis excels on special teams but has yet to establish himself as a viable receiving threat. The coaching staff was high on Davis’s potential and kept him on the roster despite his struggles on offense last preseason.
Special teams is the reason Davis will remain on the roster if he indeed makes the team.
Austin Allen spent time on the New York Giants practice squad last season before the Packers signed him to their practice squad before the 2022 season finale.
Allen has great size at 6’8” and 253 pounds. The former Nebraska star averaged 15.8-yards per catch in his senior year in college. He lined up in line and in the slot in college and that versatility could help him in camp.
His best chance of making the team or the practice squad may depend on his ability to contribute on special teams.
Camren McDonald signed with the Packers as an undrafted free agent in May. The Florida State product started 30 games for the Seminoles. Scouts consider him more of an oversized receiver or an undersized tight end.
He ran a 4.74 in the 40-yard dash and has reliable hands. Although McDonald lacks the ideal size you want in a tight end, he is a determined blocker who doesn’t shy away from contact.
He will need to make a strong early impression in camp and show the ability to contribute on special teams to stick on the roster or the practice squad.
Three Key Questions
Packers Tight Ends Question Number 1: How quickly will the rookies be ready?
When you draft a pair of tight ends in the top 100 picks of a draft, you’re expecting big things from those players. And with Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis no longer with the team, both Musgrave and Kraft will be counted on to play early and often.
Most rookie tight ends need more time to adjust to life in the NFL. The Packers are hoping at least one of the rookies steps up and performs in year one.
If one is ready, the offense benefits, if both are ready it could spell trouble for opposing defenses. If neither Kraft nor Musgrave contributes much the offense will struggle and look different than intended.
Question Number 2: Will the tight ends be featured more in the passing game?
With Jordan Love replacing Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are more likely to throw the ball to the middle of the field in 2023 than they have in recent years. This should create more targets for the tight ends.
Packers tight ends Question 3: Will Josiah Deguara benefit in the new offense?
Last year, Rodgers rarely threw the ball to Deguara, even when the tight end was open over the middle. With the change to Love, Deguara will get a chance to get out of the quarterback’s doghouse and to become a bigger part of the offense.
Deguara may also see more targets early in the season as Musgrave and Kraft learn the offense.
This season will be a big opportunity for Deguara who is in his contract year. This may be his best chance to prove he can play a substantial role in the passing game.
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