When Robert Tonyan went off for 98 yards and three touchdowns against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night, the entire football community all asked in unison, ‘wait, who?’
Tonyan might be a new name to most NFL fans, but he’s actually been with the Packers for three seasons. It took a few injuries for Tonyan to get his first real chance to contribute for the Packers, but boy did he make the most of it. Now that he’s emerged as a top weapon in Green Bay, Tonyan has a chance to become the NFL’s next George Kittle.
Robert Tonyan is already having a breakout season
Just a few weeks ago, Tonyan was a no-name backup who most casual football fans outside of Wisconsin had never heard of. He only started two games through his first two seasons as a pro, but Tonyan burst onto the NFL scene on Monday with an electric offensive performance.
Tonyan caught all six of his targets for 98 yards and three touchdowns during the Packers’ Week 4 game against the Falcons. The tight end now has five touchdowns in his last three games after scoring just two touchdowns in his first 28.
Tonyan went undrafted out of Indiana State, but in 2018, he finally found a home in the NFL with the Packers. The TE recorded just 14 catches and two touchdowns over his first two seasons in Green Bay, but his role has drastically changed in 2020.
Through four games this season, Tonyan has caught 13 passes for 173 yards. He also has five touchdown catches so far, which is tied with Mike Evans for the most in the league.
Tonyan shares an agent with George Kittle and trains with him in the offseason
Tonyan’s swift rise to prominence is similar to George Kittle’s from a few years back. After a decent rookie season, Kittle exploded for 1,377 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 2018. Tonyan looks to be having his breakout season after serving as a backup for two years, but it might not be a coincidence that he’s following in Kittle’s footsteps.
Tonyan and Kittle have been close personal friends for years. They got to know each other during the pre-draft process in 2017 after they hired the same agent, Jack Bechta. The two tight ends don’t just share an agent, though. They actually live together during the offseason, and they’ve trained together in Nashville, Tenn for three years.
Maybe all that training and learning from Kittle has finally translated to the field for Tonyan, who could be growing into the next superstar tight end right in front of our eyes.
Tonyan could become the NFL’s next George Kittle
Not many people saw this breakout season coming from Tonyan, but his good pal Kittle sure did.
“You know what, he’s coming along really quickly,” Kittle told ESPN’s Rob Demovsky last summer. “He’s an absolutely insane athlete, one of the most natural people I’ve ever seen catch a football. So when you have that going for you, and he’s an incredibly hard worker, he’s going to find success, which is good.”
When one of the most dominant tight ends in football gives you a compliment like that, you know you’re a special talent. Tonyan sure proved that Monday night, and he’s just getting started.
All state courtesy of Pro Football Reference