In 2017, Robert Tonyan told HERO Sports he wasn’t sure which offensive position NFL teams saw him playing. At FCS Indiana State, Tonyan was a 6-foot-5, 220-pound wide receiver that hauled in 150 career catches for 2,047 yards and 20 touchdowns.
He added some weight before his Pro Day and still tested well athletically. While he didn’t hear his name called during the draft, Tonyan got his answer when Green Bay signed him to an undrafted free agent deal as a tight end.
Fast forward to this season, and Tonyan is tied with Kansas City’s Travis Kelce for the most receiving touchdowns by a tight end with nine.
But it wasn’t an immediate success story in the NFL.
In 2017, Tonyan was released by the Packers before the season began. He was signed to the Green Bay practice squad for the last four games of the year, and then was re-signed for the 2018 season. Tonyan played in 16 games in 2018, catching only four passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. Last season, Tonyan caught 10 passes for 100 yards and another touchdown. The Packers resigned Tonyan in April of 2020 for one more year.
Tonyan suddenly became a huge part of the offense and emerged as a go-to target for Aaron Rodgers. He caught five touchdown passes in the first three games, including three on Oct. 5 against Atlanta. Tonyan has caught one touchdown in each of the last four games.
“His intelligence is a big part of (his success),” Rodgers said. “He just really understands the game, really understands timing really well, and it’s paid off for him. He’s made a number of big plays for us, we’ve called plays for him, which is great. He’s done a really nice job of catching the ball consistently, and I think he’s become a much better runner after the catch, too. His entire game has improved in his time here, and now he’s getting the touchdowns to prove it. So I’m happy for him.”
For more on Tonyan’s success story from an under-recruited high school quarterback to a standout college wide receiver, check out our 2017 feature story.