The focus throughout this offseason for the Green Bay Packers has been on the departing Aaron Rodgers and the need to beef up the wide receiver/tight end game for new starting quarterback Jordan Love.
The roster, as it stood pre-NFL Draft, was sorely lacking in pass catchers. The team has either lost or not re-signed Robert Tonyan, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Marcedes Lewis this offseason– a foursome that accounted for nearly half of their passing yards last season.
At tight end, only Josiah Deguara and Tyler Davis are returning from last season’s 53-man roster and neither is the type of pass receiver who will benefit Love to any significant degree.
And, although it may have shocked some to see the Packers grab edge rusher Lukas Van Ness in the first round of the draft, it surprised nobody that the team would then focus on ball catchers. With their next three picks, the team selected two tight ends and a wide receiver (overall, they would grab five pass catchers from their thirteen draft selections).
The first of the lot drafted was with their second round pick (42nd overall), tight end Luke Musgrave from Oregon State. He is the nephew of former NFL quarterback Bill Musgrave, who is the current offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos.
Musgrave had shown improvement throughout his college days and was on pace to have a killer final year when a knee injury shut down his season after just two games. Concerns over his ability to comeback from his injury were put to rest when he performed well at the NFL Scouting Combine, running a 4.61 in the 40-yard dash with a 36-inch vertical and delivering the fastest 10-yard split (1.54 seconds) among tight ends.
Luke Musgrave, The Strengths
Musgrave, who will be 23 by the start of the season, profiled higher than what his college accomplishments would’ve normally dictated, primarily because of his height (nearly 6-foot-6) and his elite-level athleticism.
He utilizes his height well in pass catching and has good hands with an intuitive feel for making plays and the ability to leverage his height to his benefit. He also has elite-level speed for a tight end, which opens up the possibility of big play gains.
Although already a good blocker, there’s the distinct possibility of improvement in that area if/when he adds more bulk and all-around strength.
Luke Musgrave, The Weaknesses
The chief concerns when it comes to Musgrave are his strength and physicality. Scouts tend to believe that he is lacking in both areas and may struggle against stronger NFL players.
These deficiencies allow him to be overpowered and/or rerouted at times by players who are stronger or more tenacious.
However, given his tremendous athleticism, the feeling is that there’s a good likelihood that working under NFL strength and conditioning programs will add that bulk and strength to round out his game.
The Packers are coming into this season with an urgent need for pass catchers. Musgrave profiles as a player who can fit that role nicely while providing big play possibilities. He surely isn’t THE answer to the team’s offensive needs, but he’s likely to help considerably.