Josiah Deguara Stepping Up at the Right Time for Packers

Josiah Deguara’s NFL career did not get off to an easy start. The 2020 third round pick out of Cincinnati was injured in just his second NFL game last season and missed the rest of the regular season after suffering a torn ACL. That started a long rehab process that continued into training camp this year.

In 2021, Deguara started the season buried on the depth chart behind Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis as he gradually got back to full health and acclimated himself to the NFL. Deguara was on the field for only five plays in the season opener against the Saints and only played more than 25 snaps once in the first nine games of the season.

He was lining up in different places on the field, at H-back, traditional tight end, split out wide and even at fullback on some plays although he wasn’t seeing a lot of action overall. He seemed to be a jack of all trades but a master of none and hadn’t carved out a specific role in the offense.

But those circumstances rapidly changed after Tonyan suffered a season-ending injury in the Packers Week 8 win over the Cardinals. Suddenly, Deguara became the Packers primary pass catching tight end. He got a crash course in that role and as he learned, got more familiar with the playbook and improved his play, he saw more action.

Deguara played a season-high 25 snaps against Seattle in Week 10 and then increased his participation in each subsequent game since. Against the Bears, Deguara played 37 offensive snaps and caught three passes for 44 yards, both of which were career highs.

Gradually, Deguara is also winning the trust of Aaron Rodgers which is not always easy for any receiver to do. Rodgers is starting to realize he can rely on his tight end to be in the right place at the right time and to make key plays. Against the Bears, Deguara caught a 25-yard pass from Rodgers that helped set up the Packers first touchdown of the game.

In his last six games, Deguara has 13 catches for 139 yards and his first NFL touchdown. He has those 13 catches on 16 targets which means he has been getting more passes thrown his way and he’s been consistently making catches when given the chance.

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur has always been a supporter of Deguara and remains impressed with what the tight end could do. In training camp this season, he called his young tight end “such a savvy, smart football player. There's so many things he does that are tough to coach.”

In addition to getting more chances to catch the ball, Deguara has improved his blocking as well. That is vital to the Packers offense. Deguara’s run blocking grade from Pro Football Focus has been improving in recent weeks and he currently ranks in the top half of the league among qualified tight ends in that category.

One of his best blocks came against the Bears when Deguara and Equanimeous St. Brown combined to make textbook blocks to spring Aaron Jones for a run that picked up a key first down in the second quarter.

Deguara has been savoring the chance to play more and he has enjoyed the process of learning the NFL game. “I've always tried to be a student of the game,” Deguara said. “Wherever I was, whether in high school, college, trying to do that extra work to know not only what I've got, but just learning the game of football. I'm still obviously learning a lot right now.”

Tight ends coach Justin Outten has also been pleased with the progress he’s seen from Deguara. “He's clicking on all cylinders,” Outten told reporters in the days leading up to the Ravens game. “He's playing fast, he's come alive in every facet, he's Josiah. He's just going to grind through everything that gets thrown at him. He's kept a positive attitude throughout this whole time and I think that's why he's in the spot that he's in right now, because you could really go in the tank with injuries and knicks (if) you don't have the right mindset. You're not going to learn; you're not going to grow.”

Deguara has credited veteran tight ends like Tonyan and Lewis for mentoring him and helping to speed up his development. As this is his first full NFL season, there is still room for growth for the University of Cincinnati alum.

One thing is certain: Deguara will play a key role in the Packers offense for the rest of this season and into the playoffs.

 

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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12 points

Comments (24)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Bearmeat's picture

December 18, 2021 at 01:01 pm

First Dillon beasts, then Deguara steps up. Next... Love.

It's almost like (wait for it) our GM is good at his job... ;)

13 points
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mbpacker's picture

December 18, 2021 at 05:30 pm

Let's hope you're right about Love! GPG!

2 points
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bjkdad44's picture

December 18, 2021 at 09:44 pm

We shall see what we shall see!

3 points
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oceanstrength's picture

December 19, 2021 at 06:10 am

Jordan Love is not special. Your reaching.

-7 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

December 19, 2021 at 09:05 am

Not sure what your definition of special is as it is very ambiguous. Is that a top 15 starting QB in the league, a Pro Bowl QB, or an All Pro QB? Whether Love turns out 'special' or not please provide details on what you know the rest of us do not know. Also, please provide where you are able to make such a knowledgeable proclamation before Love actually has extensive playing time? Personally, I have a lot of questions about Love, but I do not know just what kind of player we have with him as my magic ball isn't sharing that information with me at the moment.

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 19, 2021 at 09:17 am

Again, Rodgers looked far from special early on. Such certainty is just a sign of a closed mind, not wisdom, however good or bad Love proves to be.

3 points
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ricky's picture

December 18, 2021 at 02:10 pm

It's not how you start- it's how you finish.

4 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

December 19, 2021 at 09:22 am

unless your start is better than your finish! :)

I will take a good start and a good finish!

1 points
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NJMagic's picture

December 18, 2021 at 02:12 pm

James Starks 2.0....???
Coming alive at the right time

0 points
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croatpackfan's picture

December 18, 2021 at 03:45 pm

He will be much better player than Starks. Starks was very good, but Josiah Deguara will be an excellent one!

2 points
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13TimeChamps's picture

December 18, 2021 at 04:07 pm

Here's hoping he (and hopefully Amari) can break the trend of 3rd round picks that haven't panned out for GB:

Khyri Thornton
Ty Montgomery
Montravious Adams
Oren Burks
Jace Sternberger

4 points
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Philarod's picture

December 18, 2021 at 08:19 pm

If he develops into a reliable blocker who can pick up first downs - and he's heading in that direction - that can be huge for The Pack's chances this year. I'm not sure if he can stretch the field as well as Tonyan, but he does have a good set of skills.

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 19, 2021 at 09:19 am

He was drafted to be a complimentary piece to a more typical catching TE. It’s a shame we won’t see him working with one this year.

1 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

December 19, 2021 at 09:29 am

I like Deguara but he will never be able to stretch the field like Tonyan. Tonyan is a converted WR who remade himself into a TE. However, Deguara is more of a true blocker and a swiss army knife (gadget player) that allows MLF to use him in multiple ways. In short, Deguara is not Tonyan nor is he a move TE. He also is not a blocker like Lewis. He is too small to be anything like Lewis as a blocker. I am hopeful the Pack can keep Tonyan particularly after his knee injury, otherwise the Pack is going to need to draft a move TE next year.

0 points
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dobber's picture

December 19, 2021 at 10:30 am

Some guys run fast. Some guys generate separation by being good technicians. Some guys are schemed open. If the coaching staff asks Deguara to play to his strengths, that's all you can ask for...I agree: if they ask Deguara to be Tonyan, they'll be disappointed, and if they ask him to be Lewis, he'll end up back on IR.

The failure of Sternberger and the aging of Marcedes Lewis means a more traditional TE is probably on the slate for the next draft.

2 points
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egbertsouse's picture

December 19, 2021 at 07:50 am

Pump the brakes, could be a one game wonder.

-5 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

December 19, 2021 at 09:32 am

I see Deguara as a luxury to the offense as a gadget type player. For those expecting him to be anything special in terms of receptions and yards after catch you are going to be dissapointed. He also will not be this road grader type of blocker. He is a FB who is able to move a little more fluidly. I do think if he stays healthy he can be a valuable asset to the MLF offense.

0 points
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stockholder's picture

December 19, 2021 at 09:30 am

I thought this was Gutey's worst pick of the draft. The need just wasn't there. Yet here we are. He's improved beyond my expectations. We need him.

4 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

December 19, 2021 at 09:35 am

Stockholder,
I would totally agree with your comments. He wasn't the type of player the Pack really needed. In retrospect, a good move type TE now that Jace did not work out would have been preferable. However, we had Jace and we did not know he would not work out. I do think he will be a serviceable player within the MLF offense though and will bring value. I also think a Jordan Love offense someone like Deguara could have a bigger impact, particularly in Love's first season as a starter.

1 points
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stockholder's picture

December 19, 2021 at 01:54 pm

The packers brought in Jace Sterberger before they drafted him. Lesson Learned. I never liked the Love Pick either. A.J. Dillon was my highest rated packer pick. I prefer Gutey trade Love. But I do realize they wanted a back up. I believe; that if Wolf could find Favre. "Gutey could find a back-up." The timing just doesn't feel right; to agree with you. Love looks like Doug Williams to me. I see the arm. Just not the talent to make something happen.

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jurp's picture

December 19, 2021 at 10:31 am

I think you actually see something other than the arm with Love.

0 points
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13TimeChamps's picture

December 19, 2021 at 10:53 am

Who is this Dillion that you speak of?

1 points
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gkarl's picture

December 19, 2021 at 12:15 pm

Doug Williams was a SB champ and a very good NFL QB over his career. Certainly not a HOF'er but if you could guarantee that for Love I would take it.

1 points
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dekan51's picture

December 19, 2021 at 11:58 am

"The need just wasn't there."

thats the thing w/Gutey, and many GM's, they often dont draft for need, but draft best available player.

1 points
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