The Second Year Jump No One Is Talking About

AJ Dillon is talked about as a candidate for a big year 2 jump. Jordan Love is the topic of many conversations, too. But the biggest year 2 jump from the 2020 rookie class might be Josiah Deguara.

Last year, the Packers made some draft picks that fans feeling confused (or worse).

Perhaps the most confusing choice was using a 3rd round pick on a tight end with modest college production that some pundits had rated as an UDFA candidate.I know I was caught off guard and definitely didn't see the pick coming.

So what were the Packers thinking when they took Josiah Deguara?

The fact that they took him so much higher than pretty much anyone had him ranked tells us one of two things. Either:

1) NFL talent evaluators had him much higher than independent draft prognosticators

Or

2) The Packers had him targeted as a must-have player and weren't willing to risk him being available at their next pick

While we can't rule out option 1 (though many teams don't even use an h-back like Deguara), I feel like option 2 is more likely. The Packers traded away their 4th round pick earlier in the draft and, because of all the compensatory selections in the 3rd and 4th rounds, would have had to wait 81 picks - nearly 3 rounds worth of players - for their next selection.

I believe the Packers didn't want to risk him not being available at pick #175, so they snatched him up at pick #94. 

Matt LaFleur had a year under his belt as head coach and understood what kind of players he wanted as he continued to build his offense. It appeared that a versatile h-back like Josiah Deguara was a priority. He was really the only player in that mold available, so they were clearly looking to add that element to their offense. It's not a big leap to imagine that this was influenced by seeing how LaFleur's friend and mentor Kyle Shanahan used Kyle Juszczyk - a player similar to Deguara - in his offense in San Francisco.

Last year, there were positive reports out of camp and as the season began, Deguara saw limited snaps. However, he made an impression with his mobile blocking - his biggest flash came when he sprung Allen Lazard on an end-around by taking out two Vikings defenders with one hit.

An ACL tear tragically cut his rookie year short a couple weeks later. Deguara has a lot of rehab to finish upon the physical end (and, as reported earlier, will start training camp on the PUP list), but he did get a full year to absorb the playbook and learn the system so that he can be mentally prepared for the upcoming season. If he can get back in shape physically, he can change the face of the offense in ways we've only been able to see in glimpses.

Last year, the Packers frequently used Marcedes Lewis as an extra blocker, but he was an in-line blocker (like having an extra tackle) not an on-the-move blocker. No one else on the roster moves like Deguara or can get in front of rushers to block in space the way he can. When he went down, a solid section of the playbook probably went down with him.

This year, LaFleur will be able to add all those plays and concepts back into the fold. With a full two years worth of installs already in place for this offense, adding the Deguara chapters back in will make things even harder on defenses.

Josiah Deguara probably won't light up the stat sheet or win anyone a fantasy championship, but he can add a new dimension to the offense and make a bigger jump than any other second year player on the team.

 

 

Bruce Irons has played, coached, and studied football for decades. Author of books such as A Fan's Guide To Understanding The NFL Draft, A Fan's Guide To Understanding The NFL Salary Cap, and A Fan's Guide To NFL Free Agency Hits And Misses, Bruce contributes to CheeseHeadTV and PackersForTheWin.com.

Follow Bruce Irons on Twitter at @BruceIronsNFL.

 

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Comments (18)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Amar345's picture

July 25, 2021 at 11:43 am

Great write up Bruce! Can’t wait to see him back on the field. He’s a blue collar guy who comes to work and gets the job done

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flackcatcher's picture

July 25, 2021 at 01:38 pm

Right. Let's get him on the field first before talking about "second year jump"...

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

July 25, 2021 at 03:46 pm

Him being on the field would be a second year jump. I hope we get to see more of what we saw from him early last season. He definitely gives the defense things to think about.

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NJMagic's picture

July 25, 2021 at 01:49 pm

I hope so... Though it often takes an additional year from ACL to really regain the full mobility as a FB/move TE. Even more so than for OL.

Plus there's a difference between mentally prepared and translating that through experience on the field.

And at the most difficult position too!!

I'd expect more a year three jump than year two...

I do appreciate they have backed up their bet with additional players to help open up that piece of the playbook- DD, etc.

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ImaPayne's picture

July 25, 2021 at 02:13 pm

When does Deguera jump he is still hurt from last year, is under sized and not one but the packers were interested in him so its not like he is a sleeper. ANother ho hum maybe in his third year he will ripen. Ya right

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Duneslick's picture

July 25, 2021 at 03:18 pm

Dont get the hype. Too short and light for a tight end. Maybe a little light for a FB. Not fast. Should have decent hands. Try hard player. Below average TE. Average FB which most teams dont use. Do you want him in the slot instead of amari rodgers or one of the other receivers. NO. So you can move him around in the formation. Hes not going to scare anyone

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Stroh's picture

July 25, 2021 at 03:51 pm

But he's NOT a TE! Don't you get it? The position Deguara plays in HBack, which has LONG been associated w/ other undersized but versatile players otherwise considered TE! Think of him as a cross between a TE and a FB, or even better as a FB. Your too hung up on his listed position. Think about the role he'll be playing, not the position listed on some depth chart! Then it starts to make perfect sense! Or don't you have the ability to think creatively?

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Bizarro's picture

July 25, 2021 at 04:51 pm

Well, that escalated quickly...

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Coldworld's picture

July 25, 2021 at 05:09 pm

Baffles me people still do not get this with a player picked specifically because he played H Back in college. Neither Deguara nor Daffney are TEs. Well stated.

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Stroh's picture

July 25, 2021 at 08:54 pm

Exactly, The Packers in essence have 3 different roles or positions w/in the TE group. You have the inline blocker (Marcedes Lewis), you have the move/receiving TE (Tonyan and Sternberger) and the HBack (Deguara and Daffney). Its even very possible that all 5 of those players make the roster since 3 of them are good candidates to be ST stalwarts. So call them all TE at your own peril, but really its the role they play that is pertinent!

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Coldworld's picture

July 25, 2021 at 05:23 pm

I would expect both Dillon and Deguara to be better after a full off season as Dillon was lightly used and Deguara barely due to injuries. Love of course was not used at all.

I suppose that’s why I had not thought of them as having a second year jump but as exciting prospects. I’m excited for both, for a wreak lower and elusiveness RB double act and the fully implemented H Back role. I’m also excited about Deguara as he will have had a chance to learn more of the H back role. Whether it’s a jump or an infusion of talent, I do think that, health permitting, these players will have an impact in the back field.

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Leatherhead's picture

July 25, 2021 at 09:02 pm

It’s clear that some people need to redefine their terms.

These guys like Deguara don’t fit conventional ideas of position. He can run and catch and block. He’s kind of big to be covered by a CB but he’s too quick and agile for some LB. You can put him in motion. He brings a lot to the table and I’m hopeful for him.

But we only get to play 5 skill position guys at a time. Jones and Adams, obviously. MVS and Lazard….Tonyan and Lewis and Dillon. So when you get to DeGuara and Dafney and Sternberger and Funchess and Amari Rodgers, you’re just not going to get a whole lot of touches.

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Savage57's picture

July 26, 2021 at 05:45 am

Our new Spencer Havner.

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rstain99's picture

July 26, 2021 at 06:40 am

Wish him well, season cut short sounds like they are counting on him, just give a a top ten defense and someone to manage the ball now that it seems #12 may not be there. Move on AR , the train is coming get out of the way. 1 SB title at least Brett appeared in 2

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greengold's picture

July 26, 2021 at 07:16 am

In their last two seasons (where most stats are generated) at U Cincinnati, Josiah Deguara had more receptions, more yards, and more TDS than Travis Kelce.

Deguara is a really good player who offers a broader skill set. I think it will be fun to see what he does in LaFleur’s offense when he’s finally healthy enough to return. Hopefully, he has a similar impact on offensive production as a Pro as Kelce does with KC. Both different players, but highly productive coming into the league.

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Coldworld's picture

July 26, 2021 at 07:33 am

Well said. I am as interested in seeing how LaFleur envisages the H Back role as I am in Deguara or Daffney. We really didn’t get to see it fleshed out after Deguara went down as Daffney was really converting from closer to a fullback role.

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LambeauPlain's picture

July 26, 2021 at 11:12 am

Some good comments with a good article.

Coach Matt is incredibly creative within his "appearance of complexity". Adding AJD, Deguara, and Amari Rodgers this year will pressure DC's even more.

It is not the traditional size of a position player but the ability to make a plays keeping the defense off balance. AJD is not a traditionally sized RB, nor is Rodgers as a Slot WR, or Deguara as a TE. All three will add will play multiple roles within similar formations to stress the defense.

MMs O was increasingly predictive as a perimeter passing attack and running only 30%. Matt will run or pass using several players within the same few formations. I like the scheme and think it could be very helpful to a young athletic QB like Love.

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mnbadger's picture

July 26, 2021 at 12:32 pm

Finally we can stop the hypothesizing and get on with TC. All of our expert insight will get washed away starting Tuesday/Wednesday. GPG!

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