Where Do the Packers Stand at Tight End as the 2020 Season Begins?

The Green Bay Packers have four tight ends on their roster but exactly how they intend to use these four is a big question. None of the four looks like the clear cut, bona fide starter this season and the biggest likelihood is that each of them will have a different and evolving role in the offense.

Expect all four to see playing time in this offense because head coach Matt LaFleur intends to use his tight ends more this season as he installs more of his offensive system in his second season as head coach.

Here is a look at the Packers four tight ends as presently listed on the Packers depth chart and what role they will likely play in the Green Bay offense in 2020:

Marcedes Lewis:

Lewis is presently listed as the starter on the Packers official depth chart. Lewis is entering his 15th NFL season and the UCLA alum made 15 catches last season for 156 yards and one touchdown playing behind Jimmy Graham.

Lewis’ best assets are his blocking ability and his experience. Lewis can block well for both the pass and the run. He also adds leadership and experience to the locker room which should be a big asset for the other three young tight ends on this roster.

As a receiver, Lewis is reliable and savvy but no longer has the speed to stretch the field and put fear in the heart of defenses. He will catch most of the passes thrown his way and runs precise routes.

There is definitely a high level of trust between LaFleur and Lewis. “He has been what he’s done his whole career, man,” LaFleur told reporters at a press conference. “He has been so consistent. I can’t tell you how much he means to our locker room, to our football team. He is such a great example for the younger players on this football team. He’s so consistent. He’s a pro’s pro. He’s given a lot for us not just in the running game but he has made some big play in the passing game as well.”

Last year, Lewis was on the field for 45 percent of the Packers offensive snaps. Look for that number to go up slightly this season as Lewis has one more solid season in him at the age of 36.

Robert Tonyan

Tonyan is presently second on the depth chart and will open the season as the Packers primary receiving tight end.

The former Indiana State star was a wide receiver in college and has made the adjustment to tight end in the pros. At 6’5”and 237 pounds, Tonyan has the size and speed to be a good receiving threat at tight end.

Last year, Tonyan was slowed by injuries and played in just 11 games. He caught 10 passes for 100 yards and one touchdown.

Tonyan looked good in training camp. This may be his best chance to prove he can be a consistent contributor as a starting tight end. As a former receiver, Tonyan knows how to run deep routes and can get open down the field.

During training camp, LaFleur was quick to praise Tonyan. “We feel really good about Bobby,” LaFleur told reporters. “I will tell you, he worked really hard this offseason. You can tell, his body, he’s in great shape. He’s got a much better understanding of what we’re trying to do on the offensive side of the ball.”

If Tonyan gets off to a good start this season, he may be able to lock up a spot as the Packers top receiving tight end this season.

Jace Sternberger

The Packers were optimistic about Sternberger and believed he could make a second-year jump in 2020 after he showed some promise in the playoffs last season.

Just before camp started, GM Brian Gutekunst had this to say about Sternberger. “We’re depending on Jace to be a big part of what we’re going to do this season,” Gutekunst explained. “From the time we drafted him, we looked at Jace as a matchup problem. He’s a very gifted athlete. He’s a young player, coming out, he had one year at Texas A&M. There was a lot of growth there. We really liked the positive signs we saw through the season last year. It was unfortunate not to have an offseason to springboard him into this season, but we’re excited to get him back into the fold and see what he can do.”

Unfortunately, the Texas A&M alum started training camp on the Covid-19 list and it clearly set him back in training camp this year. Sternberger hasn’t been up to par physically and the lack of offseason reps may have hurt him as well.

Look for Sternberger to have more and more opportunities as he returns to full strength and improves in practice. Early in the season, he may be used primarily as an H-back and blocker much like he was late in the regular season last year. Once he’s given the opportunity, expect Sternberger to make a few big plays for the Green Bay offense this year and to be the team’s tight end of the near future.

Josiah Deguara

Deguara will be primarily used a blocker in the early part of the season. Like any rookie, he will struggle more this season because of the lack of preseason games, a shortened training camp and a lack of OTAs and minicamps. Rookies need reps to adjust to life in the NFL and this year, Deguara and the rest of the rookies simply couldn’t get them.

Look for Deguara to line up as an H-Back or fullback early in the year and eventually he will earn his chances to catch some passes.

Deguara was drafted specifically because he was a good fit in LaFleur’s system and the Packers coach really likes what he sees from the former University of Cincinnati star. “I just think the versatility he showed as a player,” LaFleur told reporters during training camp. “You could definitely see his ability to run routes. We just thought he’d be a good movable piece whether we have him in the backfield or on the line of scrimmage or you could even put him in some positions where he’s pretty much a wide receiver. We just like the versatility he brings.”

By the end of the season, we should see more that versatility as Deguara gets more and more comfortable with the Packers offense.

Overall, the Packers have a lot of talent at the tight end position, but except for Lewis, who is on the back nine of his career, none of it is proven at the NFL level. For LaFleur’s offense to work at maximum efficiency, one or more of these players must step up and provide the offense with a reliable weapon at the tight end position in 2020.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

NFL Categories: 
8 points

Comments (44)

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

September 10, 2020 at 12:37 pm

There is potential in the TE room for the first time since, oh 2009 with Finley? They could end up flopping, but I like the room for the first time in a decade.

+ REPLY
7 points
8
1
GilMartin's picture

September 10, 2020 at 12:45 pm

The room definitely has potential. It has a nice mix of players with slightly different skill sets. The key is for the three younger guys to live up to their potential. Health is also always a key. Thanks for the comment, Bearmeat.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Oppy's picture

September 10, 2020 at 05:40 pm

The nice thing is, it’s potential spread around three young players, not just one single player.

Best outlook for the TEs as a group in a long long time.

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
GilMartin's picture

September 11, 2020 at 02:35 pm

Just need one or more of those three to realize their potential. Thanks for the comment, Oppy.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
gkarl's picture

September 10, 2020 at 12:53 pm

Of the young guys, the one that shows more of M. Lewis skill set the fastest will have the inside track on the primary TE spot in the future. They all seem capable pass catchers but to get more reps within the MLF system you have to be able to block as well. I'm still liking Sternberger long term.

+ REPLY
1 points
2
1
GilMartin's picture

September 10, 2020 at 12:55 pm

I also like Sternberger. I feel he may have been the top pass catcher had he not gone on the Covid list at the start of training camp. Love his potential, now he has to live up to it. Strap in for a strange season, gkarl and thanks as always for the comment.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Tarynfor12's picture

September 10, 2020 at 12:59 pm

The TE room is still in a flux, since none are really standing out or looking as though they might. The description of 'potential' needs to be upgraded by play and not 'hope' at some time.

+ REPLY
4 points
8
4
GilMartin's picture

September 10, 2020 at 02:21 pm

No doubt these players need to step up and realize their potential. The Packers have drafted a TE in the third round of each of the last two drafts. At least one of them needs to develop soon to justify that pick. The Packers have been looking for their next great TE since Jermichael Finley's career was ended prematurely by injury. Thanks for commenting, Tarynfor12.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
Stroh's picture

September 10, 2020 at 10:02 pm

Justifying the pick happens in year 3, especially for a TE. It won't happen in year 1 or 2. Your expecting too much of them much to soon!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
GilMartin's picture

September 11, 2020 at 02:36 pm

Very possible Stroh. Tonyan is in year 3 so hopefully this is his breakthrough season. We need one of the three young guys to take a step forward. Thanks as always for commenting, Stroh.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
PackEyedOptimist's picture

September 10, 2020 at 01:54 pm

I also have some real hope for the development of John Lovett, who is now listed as a TE instead of a FB. With Tonyan, Deguara, Sternberger, and Lovett, the team has four very young TEs with real potential as blocker-receivers. Two years from now, that could be a pretty great room.

+ REPLY
-1 points
2
3
Tarynfor12's picture

September 10, 2020 at 02:12 pm

Two years from now that will be different.

+ REPLY
7 points
7
0
GilMartin's picture

September 10, 2020 at 02:22 pm

Hope so

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
GilMartin's picture

September 10, 2020 at 02:22 pm

The potential is definitely there. Now they need to realize it. I see a lot of talent on the roster. Thanks for the comment, PackEyedOptimist.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
greengold's picture

September 10, 2020 at 02:42 pm

I would not be surprised to see a trade made with a TE starved team before the deadline. That is one hell of a lot of TE talent and not a lot of touches to go around with the skill players Green Bay has.

+ REPLY
-1 points
1
2
GilMartin's picture

September 10, 2020 at 03:00 pm

It's possible greengold. Although I wonder who they would be willing to trade. I would guess Tonyan would be the leading candidate. What do you think? Thanks for commenting.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
dobber's picture

September 10, 2020 at 03:34 pm

I agree: I don't know how you go from no one proven to an overabundance of trade-able talent in 6-8 weeks.

+ REPLY
1 points
2
1
GilMartin's picture

September 10, 2020 at 03:55 pm

Another team would have to want to take on a player because of their potential most likely. I don't expect many trades at the deadline this year because 1) there aren't usually many trades at the deadline in the NFL normally and 2) the pandemic makes it tougher to trade players this year. But we'll see. The Packers have players with potential but nobody is proven except Lewis and right now, we know what he is at this stage of his career. Thanks as always for commenting, dobber.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
arthurl's picture

September 10, 2020 at 04:40 pm

Hate to say it, but none of these guys will cause a DC to pause. Lewis is a decent backup, but he’s older and has shown limited success in how the Packers have used him. Sternberger is the disappointing player on this list. I hope he can turn it up, but his stock is dropping with him being 3rd on the depth chart. Maybe the rook will be the guy. They seem weak at this position.

+ REPLY
-3 points
0
3
Oppy's picture

September 10, 2020 at 05:43 pm

The most experienced guy is #1, the second most experienced guy is #2, the third most experienced guy is #3, and the fourth most experienced guy is # 4.

I dunno about stock dropping. I also don’t know how seriously anyone should take most teams’ depth charts, and I’d be extra wary of lefleur’s.

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
GilMartin's picture

September 11, 2020 at 02:39 pm

I think there are two reasons for this: 1) the lack of offseason and preseason and 2) Sternberger's stay on the Covid list at the start of training camp. We shall see how these four guys develop over the course of the season. Thanks for the comment, Oppy.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
rstain99's picture

September 11, 2020 at 08:19 am

Not sure why Sternberger is a problem at this point remember Kittle wasn't a stud right away, second year when they ge used to offense. covid 19 sure may have set him back but who knows I hope you are wrong but this group looks like it has talent. Tonyan has shown promise when used. Not going to get us to forget Keith Jackson and Chewy but AR is not making me forget Brett.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
GilMartin's picture

September 11, 2020 at 02:41 pm

Agree there is potential here, but nothing proven yet. Sternberger's Covid 19 case definitely set him back, prevented him from getting necessary reps and he's probably still not at full strength. No, not going to make us forget Keith Jackson and Mark Chmura, at least not this year, but there could be some talent here for the future. Thanks for commenting, rstain99.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
rstain99's picture

September 11, 2020 at 08:22 am

Not sure why Sternberger is a problem at this point remember Kittle wasn't a stud right away, second year when they ge used to offense. covid 19 sure may have set him back but who knows I hope you are wrong but this group looks like it has talent. Tonyan has shown promise when used. Not going to get us to forget Keith Jackson and Chewy but AR is not making me forget Brett.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
GilMartin's picture

September 11, 2020 at 02:38 pm

There is potential here but it's unproven at the NFL level except for Lewis. Tonyan and Sternberger have the ability to stretch the field, but they have to prove they can do it against NFL defenses. This position is the great unknown for the Pack this season. Thanks for commenting, arthurl.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
murf7777's picture

September 10, 2020 at 04:57 pm

The TE’s will shows us some talent as early as this week against the Vikings. The good thing is the Vikings don’t know much about any of them except Lewis. I’m Predicting some big plays out of this group in game one.

Vikings Rookie CB’s and rest of the backfield are going to have their hands full come Sunday. Can’t wait. GPG

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
GilMartin's picture

September 11, 2020 at 03:05 pm

I hope so murf7777, but the Vikings safeties are excellent and the TEs may have some trouble getting open against them. The Vikings CBs are vulnerable and the Packers WRs should be able to get open against them. Should be an interesting game. Thanks as always for the comment.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
murf7777's picture

September 12, 2020 at 10:05 am

I agree with that, but thru deception and a safety helping on Adams I think there will be opportunities for them to make plays.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
ImaPayne's picture

September 10, 2020 at 06:53 pm

Way under impressed. Obviously they covet blocking more than pass catching skills. 15 year vet? No speed. Rookie with one year of college ball?
Second year guy who didn't show much when he had the opportunity?
What's to like.
The pack pass over good talent in the draft for multiple skills guys.

Thelan was a walk on at Minny. Can't block or play fullback but is just the second best te in football because he can run routes and catch, and put points on the board. So much for multiple position guys. The Vikes want people who mostly are dam good at one thing.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
jannes bjornson's picture

September 10, 2020 at 07:17 pm

That would be Rudolph, a number Two pick. Thielen is the WR from Mankato State who was the UDFA.

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
Stroh's picture

September 10, 2020 at 09:57 pm

Tonyan and Sternberger are much more receivers than they are blockers. Yes Lewis isn't much of s recieving threat anymore. But make no mistake the younger guys are much more reciever than blocker. Learning the blocking peice is what all young TE struggle with the most, but what they have to do to get on the field and get targets.

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
GilMartin's picture

September 11, 2020 at 03:09 pm

The blocking thing is tougher for many college TEs to learn because they don't always have to do it in college. NFL offenses and defenses are much more complex than what they saw in the NCAA. Agree re: Tonyan and Sternberger although Sternberger certainly showed enthusiasm and potential late last year as a blocker. At least he's willing to work hard at it and try which is more than we saw out of Graham most of the time. Thanks for commenting, Stroh.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Branden Burke's picture

September 10, 2020 at 11:37 pm

There's a lot here. Thelen is a wr, not a TE. Their TE, Kyle Rudolph, has been a very overrated player for the majority of his career. Regardless, nobody has confused him as even being close to the 2nd best tight end in football.

You state they covet blocking more than receiving, but outside of Lewis, have no proven blockers. Their #2 is a converted wr. Their #3 is more balanced but leans more pass catcher, and their #4 is also balanced and multipositional. What you will pick up on is that they all have different skill sets. Because depth charts for skill players are dying. It's more about player types and using each players tools to create a dynamic offense. The same goes for the Rb room. They have every type of running back you can get. Player types.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
GilMartin's picture

September 11, 2020 at 03:12 pm

Well said about player types, Pulpfriction01. The Packers like versatile players and each of the four TEs on the roster will have a slightly different role or roles. Should be an interesting year. Thanks for the comment.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
GilMartin's picture

September 11, 2020 at 03:07 pm

Thanks for commenting, ImaPayne. Thielen is a WR not a TE, but your point about the way the Packers drafted is understood and you are not alone in that thinking. LaFleur's offense asks for versatility at the TE position and at least one quality blocker. We'll see how this group plays out this year and beyond.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
nostradanus's picture

September 10, 2020 at 06:45 pm

This is BIG Bob Tonyan’s breakout year!
Sternberger and Degura will come on after the bye.
Until the its the Bob show!
Bring it Bob!

+ REPLY
0 points
2
2
GilMartin's picture

September 11, 2020 at 03:13 pm

Would love to see Tonyan have a big year. This is his best chance, I think if he hopes to establish himself as a starter. Thanks for the comment, nostradanus.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
CoachDino's picture

September 10, 2020 at 07:11 pm

Thanks Gil - I think you said all that could be said.

I've been a big Jace guy and noted him as a reason not to worry too much about the WR position. He's really had some tough breaks with injuries and sickness, he has shown the tools are there so I hope he is able to stay on the field in 2020. I agree that most likely it will be a case of him taking more game snaps as he gets more reps in practice to get up to speed.

Boy, if Tonyan can stay healthy and continue to improve his blocking he can really contribute. He and Jace are fast for TE;s

It is nice to have Lewis to cover-up for the Jace Covd issue.

Very interested in seeing what Degura is going to bring and if he can actually bring it in year 1.

Another case of glass half full or empty.

The potential is there - no doubt about it, they have a very dynamic/athletic group of young TEs
Yet, other than last years #2 TE none of these guys have done squat over a course of a season in the NFL

Love it - - Its why a read and comment on Packers News, big fan, can debate all day, but in the end, the proof is in the pudding when the games are played...Can't wait

Lets Go Pack!!

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
GilMartin's picture

September 11, 2020 at 03:16 pm

Thanks for the kind words, CoachDino and for your comments. The potential is there for the 3 younger guys and I think their roles will increase as the season goes on (especially if Sternberger gets healthier). Should be an interesting year at TE. Can't wait for the season and GPG.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Leatherhead's picture

September 10, 2020 at 09:15 pm

I think it’ll be Lewis as a sixth offensive lineman.... Tonyan and Sternberger and Deguara will see limited snaps until they earn more.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
GilMartin's picture

September 11, 2020 at 03:17 pm

I think Sternberger and Deguara will get more snaps as the season goes on and they gain experience. Yes, Lewis is predominantly a blocker and Tonyan will probably be the primary receiving TE especially early in the season. Thanks as always for commenting, Leatherhead.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Lare's picture

September 11, 2020 at 03:24 pm

That may very well be. They'll probably need extra blocking help on the right side of the OL until those players get healthy.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Stroh's picture

September 10, 2020 at 09:46 pm

TE generally have a longer adjustment to thr NFL, largely due to the varied roles they are utilized in and blocking. Its a little foolish to think z rookie TE will have much of a role. Deguara has an even bigger learning curve since he's not just a TE, he's the Hback thst adds an even wider variety of roles and also blocking responsibilities.

Sternberger didn't play much at all last season, then was slowed by Covid. Tonyan just doesn't have the bulk to become much of a blocker.

I really like the group as a whole, butthe 3 young TE are going to have plenty of struggles this year. It'll be another year maybe more before they have grown into their roles.

Eventually Sternberger should be the better inline TE. Tonyan the move TE and mostly a reciever and Deguara the Hback. Glad we have the old man around for another year.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
GilMartin's picture

September 11, 2020 at 03:18 pm

I like your analysis of the three younger TEs. It will take time for them to reach their potential, but I hope we see enough this year to help the offense along.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.