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Packers draft bio: Josiah Deguara, tight end, Cincinnati

Ryan Wood
Packers News

GREEN BAY - With the 94th overall pick in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers drafted Cincinnati tight end Josiah Deguara. He was the third offensive skill player the Packers drafted in as many picks, joining first-round quarterback Jordan Love and second-round running back A.J. Dillon.

PackersNews.com analysis

With their first three picks in this draft, the Packers selected Aaron Rodgers’ heir apparent and two players who should help them run the football more proficiently. Deguara really emphasizes their commitment to the run game. He is listed as a tight end, but a big part of Deguara’s game is his ability to line up as an H-back. Deguara could develop into a capable possession receiver, though he lacks game-changing speed down the middle of the field. But Deguara is a dedicated run blocker who’s capable of lining up both in-line and in the backfield, versatility that should service the run game. After redshirting his first year at Cincinnati, Deguara was predominately a special-teams player in his first two seasons before getting a role on offense. His special-teams ability should carry over to the NFL.

Cincinnati Bearcats tight end Josiah Deguara eyes the end zone after a catch against UCF last season.

Measurables

Height: 6-2

Weight: 242 pounds

40 time: 4.72 seconds

Key stat

12

Touchdowns last two college seasons

Stats/recognition

Caught 39 passes for 504 yards and seven touchdowns as a fifth-year senior last year.

First-team All-AAC as a senior.

Role expectation

The Packers entered the night with five tight ends on their roster, but one of them was converted defensive lineman James Looney. Only three have ever caught a pass: Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan and Jace Sternberger, who didn’t have a reception until the playoffs. So Deguara will help add bodies to a group left thinned after Jimmy Graham was released this spring, though he’s unlikely to make major contributions as a rookie. Tight ends face a steep transition to the NFL in their rookie year, even those blessed with physical gifts Deguara didn’t show in testing. His blocking, especially out of the backfield, should help the Packers in what appears to be a renewed focus on the run game. The Packers lost fullback Danny Vitale to the New England Patriots, opening a spot as a lead blocker. Deguara could perhaps fill that role as well as snaps at traditional tight end.

The GM said

Packers GM Brian Gutekunst speaks about Joshia Deguara:

On where Deguara can line up positionally

“I think that’s the really exciting thing about Josiah. Everywhere, quite frankly. As we went through the process, that’s a guy that Matt was very, very excited about. I think he’ll be able to line up in-line with his hand down, I think he’ll line up in the slot, back as a fullback, an H-back. but I think he can be a matchup piece that can move into all those different spots. He’s a very smart kid. Obviously, he’s been very productive as a pass catcher. I think also both these guys are exactly the kind of culture we’re looking to build. I think the versatility of both players is what we’re looking for.”

On Deguara’s transition

“He’s a tough kid, very, very smart. He’ll be able to pick this up fairly quickly. With a lot of the movement blocks that Matt likes to do in his offense, I think he’ll be able to really excel at that.”

Deguara said

On what position he enjoys playing most between in-line tight end, slot and H-back

“I honestly don’t really have one spot that I love the most. I think that was one great thing about the Cincinnati offense and the offense that I was in was I played every single spot. So I really feel comfortable all over the field. There really isn’t one spot that I prefer more than another. I really like being on the field. That’s where I feel comfortable.”

On his relationship with fellow Cincinnati Bearcat alum and Kansas City Chiefs star tight end Travis Kelce

“So I’ve been able to talk to Travis Kelce a little bit. He came to one of our games back in the season and was able to chat it up. We send DMs back and forth every now and then. He really just told me if I ever need anything to hit him up and to keep doing what I’m doing and be myself. That’s what I’ve done throughout this process. It’s got me here, but I’m definitely grateful for that relationship with him.”

On if he believes he’s able to contribute on offense early

“I do. I believe that. That’s just the guy I am. I believe I’m hopefully going to be able to come in and compete right away and make an impact for the better on that team. Whatever the coaching staff needs time to do I’m going to do. I’m just going to work as hard as I can to get on the field.”

On what he can bring special teams unit

“Throughout my time in Cincinnati — I’m grateful for it — I was able to play every special teams from the time I was a freshman to the time I graduated. So I have a lot of experience on special teams. I knew going into this process that’s something I’m going to have to do. So I’m super excited to get on the field and hopefully make an impact on special teams.”

Draftniks

Mel Kiper Jr.: “He was a special-teams player early on. Then he gets 11 catches, and he really starts to come on in 2018, with 38 catches, five touchdowns. This past year, he had 39 catches, seven touchdowns. I thought the kid showed athletic ability after the catch, showed some ability to break tackles. I like the fact that against decent opponents he stepped up. UCLA, he had four receptions there and a touchdown. Five receptions against UCF, five against Connecticut with two touchdowns against a lesser opponent. But I think if you look at Deguara, a lot of people were warming up to him through the draft process. He’s a guy who can catch the football down the field, and you look at Aaron Rodgers in that passing game, should have a guy who can factor in. maybe a backup early on, he has that special team experience.”

Lance Zierlein: “Hard-nosed move tight end who will garner consideration as an NFL H-back. He's a gritty blocker who plays with good positioning and works hard at sustaining blocks to help his run game. As a pass catcher, Deguara is sure-handed with good feel for soft spots against zone, but may need an accurate thrower due to contested catch likelihood and suspect catch radius. He's the type of Day 3 prospect who flies under the radar, but ends up becoming a solid contributor at H-back."