Deep tight end class shines at NFL Scouting Combine for Packers
It’s a good year for the Green Bay Packers to need a tight end. The 2023 NFL draft class features both high-end talent as well as quality depth through the first few rounds.
On Daniel Jeremiah’s initial top 50 big board, he had six tight ends listed. He would recently take that a step further by saying that this is the best tight end class in a decade and that he has a whopping 11 tight ends with at least a third-round grade.
“I think the tight end group is the best I’ve seen in the last 10 years,” Jeremiah said on a conference call ahead of the NFL Combine via SI. “I have 11 tight ends that I have top three round grades on, which is a ridiculous number. It is just a really, really good group.”
Not surprisingly, many of these tight ends had impressive showings at the NFL Combine as well. Of the 17 prospects who have posted a RAS score – for more on RAS click here – 15 scored at least an 8.0, with seven scoring 9-plus, including Old Dominion’s Zack Kuntz scoring a perfect 10. This is significant to the Packers because, during Brian Gutekunst’s tenure as GM, 30 of his 42 draft picks have posted a RAS of 8.0 or higher.
Zack Kuntz, 10.0
Luke Musgrave, 9.95
Darnell Washington, 9.90
Luke Schoonmaker, 9.75
Tucker Kraft, 9.52
Will Mallory, 9.39
Sam LaPorta, 9.25
Josh Whyle, 8.87
Davis Allen, 8.78
Brenton Strange, 8.76
Blake Whiteheart, 8.29
Payne Durham, 8.17
Michael Mayer, 8.08
In need of a tight end, the Packers have reportedly met with the consensus top four tight ends in this class at the combine: Dalton Kincaid, Michael Mayer, Darnell Washington, and Luke Musgrave. And chances are they’ve met with others as well.
Each of these tight ends would bring a different but needed skill set to the Packers. Kincaid is the best true pass-catcher. Mayer is the most well-rounded pass catcher and blocker. Musgrave had the second-highest RAS at the tight end position and has ample experience as a zone run-blocker, while Washington was used as a more traditional blocking tight end but has pass-catching upside.
For the Packers, they need both depth and playmaking at the tight end position. Josiah Deguara, who is actually an H-back, is the only tight end on the roster currently with any NFL experience on offense. Last season, Robert Tonyan was Green Bay’s only real pass-catching threat, and while reliable – which is valuable – he averaged just 8.9 yards per catch, ranking 34th out of 43 tight ends in that category. Looking back at the NFL playoffs, many teams had key offensive contributors at the tight end position.
In addressing this position in the draft, which perhaps the Packers should do more than once, they should look to address tight end in free agency. Historically, most rookie tight ends, even early-round picks, do not contribute in a significant way, given the difficult jump that comes from college to the NFL with having to block like a lineman and run routes like a receiver.
Typically tight end is not a position that the Packers have spent a first or second-round pick on, but we said the same thing about linebacker in 2022, and Gutey selected Quay Walker. There’s a major need at tight end for the Packers, and when they’re on the clock and picks 15 and 45, there won’t be a shortage of options.