Quick thoughts on Packers position groups: A new look tight end room

Tight ends Tucker Kraft (85) and Luke Musgrave (88) during the 2023 Green Bay Packers’ rookie minicamp on Friday, May 5, 2023 at the Don Hutson Center indoor practice facility in Ashwaubenon, Wis. Wm. Glasheen USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
Tight ends Tucker Kraft (85) and Luke Musgrave (88) during the 2023 Green Bay Packers’ rookie minicamp on Friday, May 5, 2023 at the Don Hutson Center indoor practice facility in Ashwaubenon, Wis. Wm. Glasheen USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin /

As part of my training camp preview, I will be taking a closer look at each of the Green Bay Packers position groups.

In this series, I have been going position by position, sharing my thoughts on what I’ve both seen and heard during the open practices throughout OTAs and minicamp. I’ll also discuss my expectations within the position group, questions I still have, and just about anything else that is on my mind.

Next up are the tight ends. If you’ve missed any of the previous articles in this series, you can find them below.


Running backs

Current roster: Josiah Deguara, Luke Musgrave, Tucker Kraft, Tyler Davis, Camren McDonald, Austin Allen, and Henry Pearson (Fullback)

– When it comes to figuring out what this position group is going to look like on the 53-man roster, it seems pretty straightforward. Josiah Deguara, Luke Musgrave, and Tucker Kraft will all play key roles on offense, while Tyler Davis led the team in special teams snaps a season ago. Perhaps Camren McDonald or Austin Allen could make a push for Davis’ roster spot, but my guess is that even though Davis doesn’t have an abundance of experience, he still has nearly 400 career snaps, most of which have come in the Matt LaFleur offense, and having some experience within such a young position group can be valuable, specifically on the practice field or in the film room.

– LaFleur said it best when discussing Musgrave in saying that he’s “different.” The Packers just haven’t had a player with his skill set in the tight end room in recent years. His ability to stretch the field vertically will not only create some big play potential for himself, but it will open up opportunities for others with the attention he draws and the space he creates. Although Robert Tonyan was reliable, the Packers lacked playmaking at this position.

– Along with Musgrave’s speed and overall athleticism, both LaFleur and Jordan Love have commented on how well he’s been picking up the playbook.

– Outside of the quarterback position, tight end is considered by LaFleur to be the next most difficult transition from college to the NFL because of all the responsibilities that come with filling that role. Tight ends in the LaFleur offense are moved around the formation often. They also have to know route concepts like a receiver and both pass blocking and run blocking techniques and assignments like an offensive tackle. History says that many rookie tight ends, even early-round picks, won’t contribute significantly in their first seasons.

– Throughout OTAs and minicamp, Musgrave saw a lot of opportunities with the first-team offense. Deguara saw some opportunities as well, depending on which formation the Packers were in. I imagine that Green Bay is trying to shorten Musgrave’s learning curve by giving him as many starting reps as they can.

– Based on what I saw during the OTA and minicamp practices – which, of course, can change once the pads come on – Kraft will still be a factor in the offense this season, but Musgrave is going to play the larger role.

I wrote about this recently, but my thought is that, ideally, the Packers want Deguara playing the H-back role as often as possible. But I do wonder if, early on, we see him taking more tight end snaps as Musgrave and Kraft adjust to the NFL game. Not specific to tight end, but several Packers position coaches this offseason have mentioned that with rookies, they want them to become really good at a specific role before adding more to their plate. If Green Bay takes this approach with Kraft and Musgrave, they could ask Deguara and his experience to fill in some of the gaps.

– Deguara didn’t have many opportunities as a pass catcher, but he has shown some YAC ability when in space and held up quite well last season as a blocker.

– Musgrave’s speed and Kraft’s YAC ability are what stands out from their college tape, but Brian Gutekunst said after the draft that both are “all-around” tight ends with their abilities to hold up as blockers as well. It will likely take some time before we see both proficient in both aspects, but having that element can add some unpredictability to the Packers’ offense. Last year’s tight end group had very defined roles. Tonyan was the primary pass catcher, while Marcedes Lewis blocked most of the time–so when each was on the field, the defense had a good idea about what each player’s role most likely was. But when a team has a tight end that can do both, it keeps them guessing and off-balance because the offense could run or pass from really any given look.

– We are going to see each tight end used in a variety of ways, but to put each into a specific role, Deguar is the H-back, Kraft the more traditional in-line Y-tight end, and Musgrave the F-tight end, who will line up from the slot and impact the passing game.

– The Packers were already using a heavy dose of 12 personnel (or two tight end sets), ranking second in the NFL last season in terms of usage, according to Bill Huber. That already high rate of 29% could increase this season, given the added versatility Green Bay has at the position, along with the help it can provide a young quarterback by forcing the defense into more predictable alignments.

– Attacking the middle of the field is an important part of the LaFleur offense, and I saw Jordan Love doing so quite often during offseason programs. Down the seam, on in-routes and crossers, is where we could see this position group targeted heavily this season.

– Henry Pearson is the first fullback that the Packers have had on their roster since Danny Vitale in 2019, LaFleur’s first as head coach. Perhaps as a potential practice squad player, he could fill the H-back role as a former college tight end if Deguara is ever sidelined. During practices, Pearson and Deguara were separate from the other tight ends at times, going through their own individual drills.