In the 2023 NFL Draft, the Packers drafted two tight ends. With the 42nd overall pick, Green Bay selected TE Luke Musgrave from Oregon State. The Packers did not wait much longer to draft a second tight end. In the 3rd Round, with the 78th pick, Tucker Kraft got the call and put on the Green Bay draft cap. After their rookie seasons, Musgrave and Kraft each displayed an immense amount of potential. The tight end duo feels like a thunder and lightning combination. The Packers young tight ends are matchup nightmares.

Luke Musgrave – “Lightning”

The 2023 second round pick improved throughout the season. Luke Musgrave appeared to hit his stride during the Los Angeles Rams game in Week 9. Musgrave had 4 grabs for 51 yards and one touchdown. Sadly, two weeks later in Week 11 against the Chargers, Musgrave suffered a kidney laceration. The injury kept Musgrave out until the final game of the season.

Luke Musgrave’s athleticism is rare for the tight end position. There are few tight ends around the NFL with Musgrave’s speed. Musgrave scored a 9.77 RAS (Relative Athletic Score) out of 10.00 total points. Musgrave ran a 4.61 40 yard dash, which graded a 9.33 RAS score in the speed category. This type of speed makes it incredibly difficult for a linebacker to cover Musgrave. That means a safety can cover him, right? Not so fast. Musgrave stands tall at 6-6 with a 36 inch vertical. Best of luck beating Musgrave to a jump ball.

Luke Musgrave, one of the Packers promising tight ends.

Musgrave”s touchdown against the Rams in Week 9 is one of the more memorable plays of the 2023 season. The play design by Matt LaFleur was beautiful. Jordan Love faked a screen pass to Aaron Jones who came across the formation in motion, then turned and faked another screen pass to AJ Dillon to the right, only to find a wide open Luke Musgrave in the middle of the field. Musgrave made the Rams defender miss as he ran into the endzone.

If Musgrave can stay healthy in 2024, the sky is the limit. His speed and athleticism will present all sorts of issues for opposing defenses. Defensive coordinators task of choosing a linebacker or safety to cover Musgrave is not an easy one. Do not be surprised if LaFleur prioritizes Musgrave in the weekly gameplan.

Tucker Kraft – “Thunder”

If there is a Packer fan out there who does not love Tucker Kraft, that person has not been found yet. Tucker Kraft was drafted out of South Dakota State. Similar to Luke Musgrave, Kraft scored a 9.67 RAS. Kraft ran a 4.69 40 yard dash. He can move well for a tight end. However, in his rookie season, Kraft did not use his speed as his main weapon. He preferred the hurdle move.

Tucker Kraft certainly was not afraid to hurdle a defender. However, there were a few hurdling attempts that looked pretty painful. Kraft did display a high level of toughness. He was not easy to stop in the open field. Kraft had a total of 355 receiving yards in 2023. Of those 355 yards, 232 came after the catch. Kraft displayed versatility and even elusiveness with the football. He was not afraid to run a defender over.

Contrary to Musgrave, Kraft is little bit more physical. Tucker Kraft appears to be the better blocker of the two young tight ends. Kraft did struggle early in the season. However, as the season went on, his improvement in the run blocking scheme was evident. The most exciting part of the season for Kraft was he got better each game. Kraft began to make plays in the passing game as well. He did an impressive job after Musgrave’s injury.

Multiple Tight Ends Are Perfect For LaFleur

Matt LaFleur is not afraid to use his multiple tight end sets. He prefers the bunch sets which is great for multiple tight ends. The addition of RB Josh Jacobs, who is a physical runner, indicates that LaFleur will want multiple tight ends on the field often. Having tight ends who are not afraid to block and can be used effectively in the passing game will create havoc for opposing defenses.

The play action pass is a critical piece of LaFleur’s offense. When the Packers have success moving the ball, the play action pass is effective. Expect LaFleur and the Packers to establish the running game with Jacobs and Dillon so that Love can feast off the play action pass. This type of scheme requires versatile tight ends. Kraft’s improvement in the run blocking game is critical. Luke Musgrave showed signs of improvement in that regard but expect him to prioritize improving his blocking ability this offseason. Tight ends that can block and make plays in the passing game is a coach’s dream.

Kraft and Musgrave’s athleticism is perfect for LaFleur’s scheme. Just think back to Musgrave’s touchdown against the Cowboys in the playoffs. The play design was a play action fake to the right with Musgrave running a drag route into a seam route across the formation from left to right. Love faked the hand off and rolled to his left, shifting the defense in the same direction. What happened? Musgrave was so alone on the far side of the field that he created his own zip code. Love found him and Musgrave, “stayed on his feet!” for the touchdown. Musgrave’s speed was the reason he was able to run that long, complex route in time.

In Conclusion

Kraft and Musgrave are far from finished products. However, the Packers found potential in each of these two tight ends. Their versatility is a major benefit for LaFleur’s scheme. Expect LaFleur to design plays to create mismatches for these two players. This “Thunder and Lightning” duo of Kraft and Musgrave is a nightmare for opposing defenses.