2023 NFL Draft Rookie Profile: Luke Musgrave (Fantasy Football)
Tight end may be the most fickle position in all of fantasy football. Unless you roster Travis Kelce, it’s tough to be completely confident in the position on a weekly basis. At some point, however, even Zeus himself will begin to diminish and we’ll have to look toward the future of the position. It’s a fool’s errand to attempt to predict the next Kelce, but the 2023 tight end draft class is arguably the best we’ve seen in recent history. Luke Musgrave may not be at the top of said class right now, but he has the potential to become the best of the bunch. Let’s dive into his college production, athletic measurables, and film.
Editors Note: This article is part of our Rookie Profile series going on until the 2023 NFL Draft. For more on each rookie, check out Andy, Mike, and Jason’s exclusive rookie rankings and production profiles found only in the Dynasty Pass, part of the UDK+ for 2023.
Musgrave was a three-star recruit out of Bend, Oregon, having also competed in track, lacrosse, and super giant slalom alpine ski racing in high school. While his father (Doug) and uncle (Bill) played football at Oregon, Luke signed on with in-state rival Oregon State. He got on the field for 12 games as a true freshman but caught just two passes for 18 yards on 59 snaps. He took a step forward as a sophomore, catching 12 passes for 142 yards in the COVID-shortened 2020 season.
He broke out in 2021 with 304 receiving yards on 22 catches. It was a strong enough season to land him on the preseason Mackey Award watch list heading into 2022. He came out of the gate on fire to start his final season, exploding for over 80 receiving yards in each of his first two games. That accounted for a massive 42% team receiving yard share and 41% dominator rating, though in a very small sample. Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury that would end up costing him the remainder of the season. While he never got back to play for the Beavers, he was healthy enough to participate in the Senior Bowl in early February.
At 6’6” and 253 pounds, Musgrave is slightly larger than the average NFL TE1 college average found in the UDK+ Dynasty Pass. That requisite size, combined with his 4.61-second 40-yard time, gives him a 93rd-percentile speed score. His vertical and broad jumps are also well above average, combining to give him a 92nd-percentile explosiveness score. It’s safe to say that Musgrave has all the physical tools to play tight end at the NFL level.
What’s on Tape
Games Viewed: Fresno State (2022), Boise State (2022), Oregon (2021), Senior Bowl (2022)
1. Musgrave lines up all over the field
When watching the film, Musgrave was rarely aligned in the same spot on consecutive plays. He spent just over half of his time, 57.7% of his snaps, lined up in the traditional in-line location. The other 42.3% of the time he was aligned in the slot or out wide. He was also frequently motioned across the formation. Musgrave is more versatile than your conventional in-line tight end.
2. He’s adept at creating separation
As a receiver, Musgrave excels at creating separation between himself and coverage defenders. He’s physical enough to fight off smaller defensive backs and fast enough to run past linebackers. The clip below is from Senior Bowl practice instead of a live game, but his speed is clearly on display as he easily runs away from LSU defensive back Jay Ward.
3. He knows how to catch with his hands
Musgrave has excellent hands for a tight end, but it wasn’t always that way. He had an abysmal 33% drop rate in his first collegiate season. That rate got lower each season, all the way down to 8.3% in his final season, which came from the lone drop credited to him. His film is full of examples of him plucking the ball out of the air with soft hands, as in the clip below.
What’s NOT on Tape
1. Consistent blocking
Musgrave has the size and willingness to block, he just isn’t very good at it. In the following clip, he gets blown up by a defensive lineman who ultimately disrupts the play in the backfield.
He won’t directly lose any fantasy points for a missed block, but it might cost him time on the field. Tight ends historically take longer to develop at the NFL level, in large part because they are asked to perform such a wide variety of skills. Musgrave could develop into a serviceable blocker, but he doesn’t bring that skill set with him from college.
2. Generating yards after the catch
Given his size and speed, it’s surprisingly difficult to find examples on film of Musgrave breaking tackles or getting loose for big plays. This is backed up by his career average of just 3.9 yards after the catch/reception. For reference, here is how he compares to other tight ends expected to be selected in this draft class.
It’s tough to pinpoint exactly why Musgrave is significantly behind his peers in this statistic, but it’s certainly concerning.
2023 Fantasy and Dynasty Outlook
Musgrave is a raw talent with all the physical attributes you want in a fantasy tight end, but don’t hold your breath for 2023. It’s difficult enough for first-round tight ends to produce as rookies, and Musgrave’s best-case scenario is to be drafted on day two. He probably won’t have much redraft hype in August, as it’s tough to envision a world where he makes a significant fantasy impact as a rookie.
In dynasty leagues, Musgrave becomes more interesting. Top-tier rookie tight ends typically have a hard time returning their draft value, but Musgrave will likely fall far enough that the reward will outweigh his risk. He’s a great option in the later rounds of rookie drafts if you can afford to be patient with him over the next few seasons.