Although the wide receiver’s position has stolen most of the headlines in the off-season, there is another key question regarding the passing fingers of the Green Bay Packers this season: Who will start on a tight end against Marcedes Lewis before Robert Tonyan returns from an ACL injury?
Tonian, who tore up the AFC Champions League against the Arizona Cardinals last season, is expected to return to the squad during the regular season, but it is likely to start the year on the list of the physically unable to perform, which will keep him off the field at least for the first time. Six weeks of the season. While Lewis has been the traditional narrow end of a packer, this is not a diminishing role for Green Bay and results in a lot of spin in position.
Enter Tyler Davis.
Davis is one of five Packers players (Tonian, Lewis, Josiah DeGuara and Dominic Daphne) who returned to the squad after watching regular season footage in 2021. He originally signed with UConn as a potential quarterback but was converted to a court finish before moving to Georgia Tech in his last season in college football.
He was eventually drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the sixth round in 2020 and spent the pre-season 2021 playing for the Indianapolis Colts, who put him on the coaching staff after the final cuts. In Week 4, he pulled Green Bay Davis off the Colts coaching squad. Davis’s addition of attacking was slow, scoring just 33 shots in his first 10 weeks with the Packers, but he did get 19 high-profile offensive shots against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 15. The game was rated by Pro Football Focus (in dollars) and ultimately led to an increase Playing time throughout the season.
The race to play in the tight final position opposite Louis, at least until Tonian is off the injury list, will come down to Davis, Degara and Daphne, the latter two having spent several years of playing time with the Packers. . With that being said, the surprise of the season that counts from this trio last year tells an interesting story. From week eight to week nine, Daphne seemed to be pulling away from the pack, scoring 39 offensive shots to Deguara’s 31 and Davis. By the end of the season, though, Davis (99) doubled Daphne’s surprise hit count (45) from Week 15 (against Baltimore) during the Divisional Round, including the Week 17 game—the final game that the Packers had their start to full-time— Davis beat Degara for the first time.
Unless you pay close attention, chances are Davis’ increased use has crept right under your nose. During the draft process, many believed Green Bay would add another tight end to the room or make a deal for a Las Vegas tight end Darren Waller, who league sources confirmed to the Acme Packing Company was part of the original trade package for Davante Adams receiver. When a tight end in the draft was not picked up by the Packers, it was clear that the off-season changes to the position were simply bringing Tonian and signing Alize Mack on a forward contract in February, even though the team eventually demanded a third year without drafting. Agent Eli Wolf of the Indianapolis Colts in May.
Despite this, at every opportunity, general manager Brian Gutkunst and coach Matt LaFleur have indicated that they “think they have something” in Davis. Based on the tight final workouts reported outside organized team activities and mini-camps, there appears to be a real chance Davis could play a serious offense into October as a supplement piece for Lewis, who started all 17 games for The Packers last season but were only in The pitch accounts for 43 percent of the attacking shots.
#packers TE Tyler Davis has the real possibility to be TE1 this year. He’s earned praise from Gutekunst, Bisaccia and Lafleur multiple times this season! Excited to see what he can bring to the table this year! pic.twitter.com/CxBmwUX8x1
– Big B (@bigpackers4x) June 8, 2022
So what can we expect from Davis in 2022? It’s hard to tell. With only 121 offensive shots and four receptions under his belt, the Packers almost certainly have a better handle on what they can do, based on practice shots, than those outside. Mathematically speaking, we can at least say that he tested well above the NFL average during the pre-draft process with a score of 7.89 on a 10-point scale.
To better highlight Davis’ influence this year, APC took a look at what he did against the Ravens from a skill set perspective. This is our best opportunity to see the positive side that the Packers coaching and front office staff continue to bring. We cut the coaches movie from that Baltimore game into three buckets (block run, pass protection and game pass) when Davis was in formation as a tight included side or winger.
Like Lewis, Davis saw a lot of playing time as a true tight end with his hand in the dirt against the crows, which is his added value over the likes of Degara and Daphne. Both Deguara and Dafney play on the wing, further off the line of scrimmage, or more backcourt than Davis or Lewis, which shouldn’t be surprising given the differences in size.
In the majority of the running plays in that game, Davis either side-played or was used as a solo player in an effort to close off the trailing edge, with the latter being primarily the role played by Deguara. If you’re reading between the lines, its use in the land game is to use the narrow end that Green Bay is trying to highlight, not the one it’s trying to hide.
With only two pass protection points in the game, there isn’t much that could be done for Davis’ contributions at that point. With that being said, both pass shots to protect alongside Lewis came into play appearance as Green Bay put the tight pair themselves on a reckless edge as their offensive linemen worked elsewhere. The potential of the Packers, who will certainly be less focused this year and more heavy this year, to create more “shot plays” outside of the play action with a 12-man appearance is worth considering.
The first clip in the passing game clip shows Davis’s career-wide 22-yard reception after starting the play with his hand in the dirt, a skill set that the Packers desperately need. Once again, Lewis is a novice in every game but not a losing player. He scored only 516 yards in four years at Green Bay and the “pass hunters” (DeGuara and Tonian) on the team aren’t regular contributors as true inline tight ends.
Davis worked through the middle on every running route, an area of the field that quarterback Aaron Rodgers typically targets less frequently than most high-profile quarterbacks. Also show your level of effort to find work as a post-hunt blocker and in scramble drills.
Based on how the Packers used Tyler Davis’ tight end, how they talked about him this season and what he did on the field last year, it appears his role is somewhat specific on this team. They view it as an inline tight end, and perhaps the only alternative to Mercedes Lewis, who is blocking quality and has the sporting plus side of developing as a passing pro with more reps.
The former quarterback in the mix will be in the final tight position until at least Robert Tonian’s return from injury, with Lewis playing the first team on the tight Y end, and Davis playing the tight Y team. The end Josiah DeGuara plays the winger of the team. Degara will likely be the team’s third party, a role he played last year after Tonian’s injury, until Tonian returns to the squad.
It’s hard to prove that any of Green Bay’s tight endings will be relevant to fiction this coming season, at least until Tonian in November, but the cast of characters in Tight End Chamber provides them with plenty of roles they can play to their strengths in specific situations. While you might be wondering “Who/what is Tyler Davis?” Now, it’s a name to know going forward for the Packers as he has a real road to knowing when to play in 2022.