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Robert Tonyan Has Emerged as an Elite Tight End

Robert Tonyan has emerged as an elite tight end. The Green Bay Packers tight end needs to be discussed more as he contines to produce.

In a season where Aaron Rodgers has returned to MVP form and Davante Adams has been hauling in touchdowns at an impressive rate, the Green Bay Packers defense has continued to disappoint. But one crucial story from Green Bay’s season has gone underreported. Robert Tonyan has emerged as not only the Packers number one tight end but one of the best at the position in the NFL.

Robert Tonyan Has Emerged as an Elite Tight End

Changing Positions

While many players such as Julian Edelman and Terrelle Pryor enter the pros as a quarterback but switch to a receiver to make a team, this switch happened for Robert Tonyan after his very first season at Indiana State.

With switching positions in college, not attending the NFL Combine, going undrafted, and being cut by the Detroit Lions who picked him up as an undrafted free agent, things weren’t looking good for Tonyan. So how did this long underappreciated talent go on to put the NFL on notice in 2020?

The NFL Entrance 

After spending a season on Green Bay’s practice squad, Tonyan would catch his first pass in the NFL in Week 11 of the 2018 season. It was a 54-yard reception for a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks. He would only go on to record another three receptions that season but would not find the end zone again. 

He would return to Green Bay in 2019 and would only find the end zone once (in Week 15). While Packers fans somewhat liked him already, no one could have predicted that in 2020 he would emerge as one of the best tight ends in the NFL.

The Breakout 

After not having a reception in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings, Tonyan started to come out of his shell in Week 2 against Detroit when he found the end zone once again before following it up the following week with another touchdown against the New Orleans Saints.

But the game that truly catapulted Tonyan was the Packers Week 4 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night. Tonyan, who up until that point had never had more than 54 receiving yards and one touchdown in a game, shattered both of those personal records. He torched the Atlanta defense to the tune of 94 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

Tonyan had made himself heard, but many players with breakout performances have ended up fading as a one-game wonder. The pressure was on Tonyan to prove the game against Atlanta wasn’t a one-off and that he could produce consistently.

While he has yet to repeat or eclipse his numbers from that Week 4 game, he has seen and an increasing number of snaps and has become a good target for Rodgers at a position that the Packers have struggled to fill ever since the career-ending spinal injury suffered by Jermichael Finley in 2013.

While not quite the best blocker, he has shown a willingness to improve in that department, which was neglected by 2018 and 2019 starting tight end Jimmy Graham. Tonyan was missing blocks regularly during his first two seasons and the start of his breakout 2020 season, but has continued to improve in that area.

Last Word 

Simply put, Robert Tonyan has not been discussed enough this season, given his production. But should this undrafted position shifter continue putting up numbers as a receiver and improving as a blocker, he will be in the discussion as the best tight end in the league for years to come and could one day compete with Antonio Gates for the title of greatest undrafted tight end to ever play in the NFL.

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