Tonyan broke into the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2017 with the Detroit Lions, however was minimize on the finish of coaching camp. 4 months later, he resurfaced on the Packers’ apply squad earlier than making the 53-man roster the next summer season.
The previous two years served as a graduate program in what it means to play tight finish on the sport’s highest stage. Tonyan’s professors? Marcedes Lewis and Jimmy Graham, two of the most effective blocking and pass-catching tight ends of their technology, respectively.
Matt LaFleur’s hiring as head coach introduced tight ends coach Justin Outten into the combo in 2019, and after exhibiting glimpses of greatness a yr in the past earlier than a core-muscle damage interrupted his season, Tonyan has put all of it collectively in 2020.
It isn’t simply the touchdowns or his 551 yards, both. Tonyan has developed into an all-around tight finish. In Inexperienced Bay’s Week 14 win over Detroit, he chip-blocked Romeo Okwara into two different Lions pass-rushers to depart Aaron Rodgers unpressured. It purchased his quarterback additional time to hit Marquez Valdes-Scantling for 21 yards on third-and-14.
“There’s not many instances you may take a look at 4 offensive linemen subsequent to one another huddled up round three our bodies on the bottom,” stated Outten final week. “It was an amazing hit. He did his job on that play and it was undoubtedly cool to see.”
From a pure pass-catching standpoint, Tonyan has been a revelation for LaFleur’s offense that depends on packages with two tight ends. He is athletic sufficient to win as a transfer tight finish, together with his catch-and-runs to the flat off play-action being a relentless headache for defenses.
Tonyan additionally has been proficient as an in-line tight finish and showcased a knack for locating holes within the secondary, resulting in a few his TD grabs which have gone largely uncontested.
However it’s not by chance.
“He is a savvy route-runner for being his dimension and actual delicate arms,” Outten stated. “He is bought a really feel for the second and third stage and he is aware of the best way to manipulate third-level defenders. There’s others the place he simply continues together with his route and it’s a scramble scenario, simply continues to discover a void within the protection. That is the intelligence a part of it and the texture a part of it.
“Should you’ve bought that at this stage, on high of all the opposite issues you may have together with your expertise, then you definitely’re gonna discover the ball and the ball’s gonna discover you.”