Packers rookies Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft add new element at TE with ‘all around’ skill sets
When Green Bay Packers GM Brian Gutekunst discussed tight ends Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft, he mentioned Musgrave’s vertical ability and Kraft’s YAC ability.
If you’ve watched either player, those aspects of their games leap off the screen. Musgrave ran an impressive 4.61-second 40-yard dash, while Kraft averaged a whopping 8.0 yards after the catch in 2022. However, while those dynamic elements are needed in this Packers offense, what Gutekunst kept going back to when discussing each player following Day 2 of the draft was their well-rounded skill sets.
“They’re both all-around tight ends that can kind of do everything,” said Gutekunst following Day 2. “They’re not pigeonholed into being a receiving tight end or a blocking tight end. They both have very good size, very good speed. So I’m excited. I think they’ve got their best football ahead of them for different reasons. They will complement each other and be a good fit with the guys we have.”
With how the Green Bay tight end room was set up last season, they did not have a player with that truly well-rounded skill set on the roster, or at least the Packers didn’t utilize them in that capacity. Robert Tonyan was the only true pass-catching threat at the position. Marcedes Lewis and Josiah Deguara, meanwhile, were used primarily as blockers.
Not that Tonyan wasn’t asked to block or that Lewis and Deguara weren’t running routes, but they all had relatively defined roles. This took away that element of unpredictability — or the illusion of complexity — that the Matt LaFleur offense is trying to achieve. In order to do so, versatility is key.
But when you add a tight end to the mix — let alone two — who can be an effective pass catcher and run blocker, it will open up the playbook for LaFleur, providing him with more flexibility as a play caller and better keep defenses off-balance. Not only will this benefit Musgrave and Kraft, but it will also create opportunities for others within the Packers’ offense and, hopefully, make things easier for Jordan Love.
“We’ve talked about it before,” said Gutekunst, “just how much Matt and his staff are able to do and like those guys. The flexibility of being able to have multiple tight ends. I really like this whole group now. We have a couple young players with a lot to prove. Josiah (Deguara) and Tyler (Davis) coming back. I really like the group now, and it’s going to be interesting to see how Matt and his staff use those guys. If you have interchangeable guys, it makes it easier, and I think these two have the potential to do that.”
Both Musgrave and Kraft have over 500 career run-blocking snaps from their time in college. Although perhaps known more so for their impact as pass catchers, Gutekunst would categorize each as above-average blockers, and perhaps most importantly, they are more than willing to take on that blocking role and can be successful because of their size and physicality.
Given the state of the Packers’ tight end room, both Kraft and Musgrave are going to step into large roles right away. Green Bay won’t have the luxury to bring them along slowly. With all of the responsibilities that come with being an NFL tight end, many struggle as rookies, and we should be prepared for ups and downs with Musgrave and Kraft.
However, if both can make strides and improve as the season progresses, it will unlock an element in this offense that was missing in 2022, benefitting both the running and passing games.
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