The Green Bay Packers tight end group is coming off an underwhelming year. Even with three members returning in 2020, this group has a different feeling heading into the season.
The Green Bay Packers added to the list of “underperforming tight end free agents to make a pit stop in town” and cut ties with Jimmy Graham this offseason. The team returns veteran Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, and 2019 third-round pick Jace Sternberger. The lone addition to the group is rookie Josiah Deguara, who is likely to play more of an H-back role with the team.
It would be hard to overstate the impact that Marcedes Lewis has had with the team. During an unconventional offseason, his veteran presence has been vital in helping the younger players navigate their way through training camp. Lewis is the team’s primary blocking tight end, and typically only operates as a check-down or safety valve in the passing game. Lewis’s value will be hard to quantify with a young tight end group with lots of upside but lacks experience. He’ll get plenty of playing time, especially with Head Coach Matt LaFleur’s commitment to running the ball more.
Second-year tight end, Jace Sternberger, has had a disappointing start to his career. After a preseason injury landed him on the IR for much of the season, Sternberger was able to see some game action later in the season but failed to make much of an impact. With Graham’s departure, the Green Bay Packers are looking to Jace to be the team’s primary receiving tight end. As a junior at Texas A&M, Sternberger had 832 yards and ten touchdowns, which is why the Packers’ hopes for him remain high. As long as he can stay healthy, he should be a substantial contributor to the Packers’ passing game for the foreseeable future.
Robert Tonyan could turn out to be one of the most surprising offensive players in the league in 2020. As a former college wide receiver, Tonyan has finally been able to get his body prepared to play tight end in the NFL and has the skillset to go along with it. The coaching staff’s biggest concern was his ability to block in the running game, but with the recent release of James Looney, it would seem as if the Packers like what they’ve seen from him so far in camp.
Perhaps the most intriguing player in this group is rookie Josiah Deguara. The Green Bay Packers left many people scratching their heads for the third time in as many rounds after selecting Deguara in the 2020 NFL Draft. After watching the film from his time at the University of Cincinnati, it was clear what the Green Bay Packers liked about Deguara. He has the ability to paly on the line and block, split out to be a threat in the passing game, or lineup in the backfield as a lead blocker with the potential to sneak out and get open off the play action. Deguara runs smooth routes, has soft hands, and is an excellent blocker. His versatility will be a valuable weapon for Matt LaFleur to use and create mismatches against opposing defenses.
While the Green Bay Packers don’t have one solidified star in the group, as a whole, they do possess a vast set of skills that can exploit defenses situationally. Lewis will likely operate primarily as a run-blocker. The team will look to Sternberger to be the group’s primary receiving threat. Robert Tonyan is a solid second tight end in any situation. While Deguara’s role isn’t entirely clear yet, it’s easy to see him wearing several different hats, assuming he can pick up the playbook with such an abbreviated offseason.
The Green Bay Packers have three young and exciting tight ends looking to realize their potential in an offense that seems to find creative ways to get the position involved. With the veteran leadership of Marcedes Lewis, this bunch is looking to become the best tight-end group in the league. If they are able to elevate to that level, this offense will be hard to stop.