Green Bay Packers

Let's Make 2024 the Year Of the H-Back/Fullback

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

After vastly exceeding expectations in 2023, it seems like the Green Bay Packers are pretty set at wide receiver and tight end for 2024.

But complacency is the enemy of progress, and it still feels like we could elevate this offense to a truly deranged level. Matt LaFleur is a good head coach and deserves a little treat. Why not get him even more weapons to create an NFL-defining offense?

Dear reader, you may ask, Where could LaFleur add such a piece? Wouldn’t more weapons take snaps away from the team’s current players? What would the Packers add that isn’t already on the roster?

Green Bay has four high-potential wide receivers, interesting depth pieces, and two ascending tight ends. But they don’t have someone to play that H-back/fullback role LaFleur would love to scheme for. Josiah Deguara is a free agent and never lived up to that role. So, now is the time for the Packers to add that missing piece and take the offense to the next level.

The Packers seemingly found two stars in their rookie tight ends, Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft. Ben Sims showed some promise as a developmental piece, and they love Tyler Davis as a special teamer. But they don’t really have a guy with the skillset to be a mauler as a blocker or to fill that H-back role.

A skilled H-back fits LaFleur’s design for the illusion of complexity. We know how valued skilled blocking is in his ideal offense, so a do-a-bit-of-everything back allows LaFleur to be tricky with his play design. While called H-back, a tight end typically fills this role in the modern NFL.

The Packers drafted Josiah Deguara┬áto fill that role, but it seems unlikely he’ll be back in 2024.

Injury shortened Deguara’s promising rookie season, and he never became a major contributor. Frequent drops earned him the ire of Aaron Rodgers, and even Jordan Love rarely looked his way. Deguara was highly inconsistent as a blocker and wasn’t great on special teams. While the Packers could choose to re-sign Deguara thanks to his knowledge of the offense and likely low cost, the team should use this chance to upgrade the position.

Fullback Henry Pearson is one option on Green Bay’s roster. However, he spent most of the 2023 season on the practice squad. Pearson showed some promise during training camp, including some catching ability. We saw some nice things from the true fullback when called up to the active roster.

The Packers elevated Pearson for Weeks 12 and 13 against the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs. Green Bay’s offense soared against the two best teams they’d face the rest of the season, and Pearson contributed. His efforts as a blocker allowed the previously struggling ground game to find some purchase, and he was a valuable component of the special teams unit.

Green Bay could move on from Deguara and elevate Pearson. Then they could add some low-cost depth through late-round draft picks, UDFAs, or a cheap veteran. But why not get a little silly with it?

The Packers have myriad needs: cornerback, safety, inside linebacker, offensive linemen, and running back. You could argue that, in general, H-back/fullback isn’t considered essential for most teams. But that’s no fun.

We saw elements of the ideal offense LaFleur wants to run in his first season with Jordan Love under center, and we know LaFleur would like to incorporate more of the San Francisco 49ers offense into his scheme. LaFleur could use his Kyle Juszczyk to take this offense to the next level.

Juszczyk is a fourth-round pick with a successful career, but he took off under Kyle Shanahan.

The Packers could also look to the mid-rounds of the draft to find their guy.

Texas TE Ja’Tavion Sanders might command a higher pick than fans would like, but he’d elevate the role to new heights. Sanders is big, young, and has proven experience dominating in the Big 12. Those are all traits Green Bay historically loves, and Gutekunst is willing to go BPA rather than focus on pure needs.

If that price is too steep, Kansas State’s Ben Sinnott is another appealing option likely available in the fourth round.

There’s still a long way to go before we get to the draft, but if Green Bay wants to upgrade the position, they certainly have options. Deguara was a third-round pick, so the team isn’t afraid to use an earlier pick on the position.

What’s clear is that H-back/fullback is a role the Packers like. Their offense has done well when someone performs that role well, and there isn’t a proven long-term option in the current lineup. I like Pearson a lot and would like to see him get a fair shot on the active roster, but Gutekunst should also attack the role in the draft this year.

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