Packers TE Tyler Davis emerges as key special teams contributor

Green Bay Packers tight end Tyler Davis (84) is shown during organized team activities Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Green Bay, Wis.
Green Bay Packers tight end Tyler Davis (84) is shown during organized team activities Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Green Bay, Wis. /

In a revamped tight end room that features some big play potential, Tyler Davis may not quite fall into the roster lock category at the position, but he brings a diverse skill set to the Green Bay Packers offense and will likely fill a big role on special teams.

Last season, Davis would lead the Packers in total special teams snaps with 344, per PFF. The next closest was Dallin Leavitt, with 305. Davis was a key member of just about every special teams unit, playing 80-plus snaps on both the kick return and coverage units, 50-plus snaps on the punt return and coverage units, and nearly 70 snaps on the field goal unit. He ended the year with the second-most total special teams tackles on the Packers as well.

As the fourth option at tight end a season ago, Davis played just 175 total offensive snaps in 2022, with 67 coming on passing downs and 108 on running downs. He had four receptions on five targets for 26 yards. His role, once again, figures to be small this season, but with such an inexperienced tight end room, even with the upside that Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft bring, I wouldn’t say it’s going to be non-existent, either.

Matt LaFleur has mentioned on several occasions how difficult the jump is for tight ends going from college to the NFL, including that he considers it the second toughest transition after the quarterback. In short, this is because of all the responsibilities that this position group has, from lining up all over the field to both run and pass blocking like an offensive tackle to running routes like a receiver.

Davis’ primary role will be on special teams. But given his familiarity with the LaFleur offense and ability to take on a variety of responsibilities, at least early on in the season, that could create some opportunities for him in defined roles as the Packers weather the ups and downs that come with relying heavily on rookie tight ends. There is also some value in having that system experience both on the practice field and in the film room for a position group featuring young players. Before putting every task on Musgrave’s and Kraft’s plates, it’s reasonable to suggest that the Packers may want them to become effective in a few areas before asking them to do it all.

"“He’s been in the offense now for a couple years,” said tight ends coach John Dunn, “and he understands what we’re trying to do, and he’s great for the young guys. I don’t ever want to set a ceiling on any player, and Tyler has a great skill set, too, and he’s coming into his own, right? He’s a young player and I know he’s done – not to speak for Rich with special teams – but I know he did a great job there. The greatest part about Tyler, whatever role you give him he owns that role, and wherever that takes him, wherever that takes us, you don’t ever know.”"

However, just because of his experience in the LaFleur system, it’s also not as if Davis is going to be handed some responsibilities on offense either. He will have to earn them and show that he’s made strides from a developmental standpoint. Last offseason, we heard quite a bit of praise from the coaching staff and even GM Brian Gutekunst about Davis, and while preseason games are only a very small sample size of what we are able to see from the outside, drops and even at times, his blocking, were an issue for him.

The other tight ends on the roster include Austin Allen, who has no NFL snaps, and 2023 undrafted rookie Camren McDonald. Through the offseason programs, not surprisingly, Davis was the clear fourth tight end option on offense behind Musgrave, Kraft, and Josiah Deguara. Davis, again, figures to be a core special teams member, but what role he could potentially fill on offense is still to be determined.

"“This time of year, especially for how young we are, we don’t want to put a guy in a box and say you do this, you do this,” said Dunn. “This is the time of year where, let’s go see what you can do, and the more they can do, the more we can use them, the more we can do, and it opens up our offense.”"