Green Bay Packers

Luke Musgrave Might Be The Packers Top Breakout Candidate

Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

One popular talking point about the Green Bay Packers this offseason concerns which wide receiver will emerge as the true WR1. Arguments can certainly be made for Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed, and Dontayvion Wicks. While the wideouts will lean on their strength in numbers, Luke Musgrave has an opportunity to cement himself as TE1 and as the breakout player in Green Bay’s offense.

Musgrave suffered a lacerated kidney on an innocuous play in Week 11 against the Los Angeles Chargers. Despite playing 16 more snaps in that game, he missed the following six weeks as his internal organs healed. Through his first 10 games, Musgrave was on the field for 71% of offensive snaps, but in his three games after returning from the injury, he participated in just 15, 27, and 28% of the offensive snap counts, respectively.

When healthy, Musgrave was both productive and reliable. According to Pro Football Focus, which lists Musgrave on its 2024 All-Breakout Team, the tight end dropped only one of the 41 catchable balls thrown his way during his 2023 rookie season. Let’s not forget why the Packers used the 42nd pick in the 2023 draft to select Musgrave. The 6’6” tight end possesses elite athleticism, including a 36” vertical, 4.61 40-yard dash time, and 10’5” broad jump, all elite for his position.

Nothing about Musgrave’s lacerated kidney should dampen this upcoming season. At the moment, the injury was noted as “pretty significant” and kept Musgrave in the hospital for two days. After six weeks, Green Bay’s notoriously cautious medical staff cleared him to return.

By all accounts, his injury is healed and in the past. In football terms, it’s not the same as coming off an ACL tear or other type of injury that may prevent someone from regaining the athletic prowess that got him to the NFL in the first place. While Musgrave is healthy this offseason, his tight end counterpart and primary competition for targets, Tucker Kraft, suffered a torn pec and is expected to be out during training camp. Kraft took advantage of Musgrave being down and showcased his abilities. However, a healthy Musgrave is back to having the upper hand.

However, Musgrave missed out on most of Jordan Love‘s ascendence during his injury. Starting with the Chargers game where Musgrave got injured, Love rattled off a seven-game stretch in which he had 16 touchdowns and only one interception, tallying 1,834 yards and a 109.9 passer rating. It became evident that Love completely bought into Matt LaFleur’s offense. While that may mean an agnostic approach to wideouts and not playing favorites between Watson, Doubs, Reed, and Wicks, there was a level of consistency in targets at tight end. Kraft averaged better than five targets per game over the last seven games of the season, which, when extrapolated out throughout the season, slots in as the 12th-most targets per game amongst tight ends. Not elite usage, but certainly better than average with room to grow.

The wideout group will be difficult to predict from a game-to-game perspective, which may drive fantasy football players crazy. Still, there figures to be a baseline amount of usage and targets available for Packers tight ends. If Musgrave can pair the natural growth of his early season usage with the continued ascendance of Jordan Love, there’s a more than compelling case for a breakout season for the former Oregon State tight end.

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