Whether you know it or not, the Jacksonville Jaguars got a bit of a steal in seventh-round pick Ben Koyack out of Notre Dame.
The 6'5", 255-pound Koyack is in between current Jaguars tight ends Marcedes Lewis (6'6", 275 pounds) and Julius Thomas (6'4", 250 pounds) but he's also a versatile player who can block as well as he can catch, and figures to contribute most on special teams.
We went to SB Nation's One Foot Down to find out if Koyack had a future outside of the No. 3 tight end option with the Jaguars. Here are their answers:
1. What are Ben Koyack strengths? If he was the starter, what would his roles and responsibilities be?
I believe his biggest strength at the next level as a tight end is his versatility. I think he was one of the most complete tight ends (if not the most complete) coming out of college. Koyack is more of an all-around tight end, as opposed to a pure pass-catcher. While it is unlikely that he would be a starter for the Jaguars given their current depth at the position, his primary responsibility would be run blocking and pass protection.
Koyack was thrust into the lineup as a true freshman due to injuries in 2011 -- something that I believe hampered his development as a player in college. He really would have benefited from sitting out a year to add weight and strength before trying to block some more mature college defensive linemen. He was never really a featured receiving threat for the Irish like Tyler Eifert was in 2012, but made some big plays for the Irish... including this fourth-down touchdown catch to beat Stanford last fall.
2. If you were the Jaguars, would you move Koyack around in the offense at tight end, receiver, and H-back, or would you keep him at one static position?
Koyack is certainly capable of being moved around -- something that Brian Kelly did quite a bit with him on offense at Notre Dame. Koyack's main responsibility during his time in South Bend was to line up either in-line or offset as a traditional tight end and occasionally as an H-back.
The Irish offense has generally featured two tight ends during the Kelly years -- the first tight end serving more of a pass-catching role (think Kyle Rudolph, Tyler Eifert and Troy Niklas) and the second as a blocker. Koyack generally served in the blocking tight end role during his career until the 2014 season, when he was the primary tight end option (and often the only tight end on the field for the offense).
Given his college career, he probably is best suited playing multiple roles, but generally not split out as a receiver.
3. Did you expect Koyack to fall to the seventh round?
In a word -- no. I may be viewing the draft through blue-and-gold colored glasses, but I have a hard time believing there were 15 better tight end in the draft this year. I thought he might sneak into the third round but was more of a fourth or fifth-round prospect. Some scouts questioned his desire and love for football, but I thought that was something he put to rest during the Notre Dame Pro Day.
4. What are some reasonable expectations for Koyack's rookie year with the Jaguars? He's got two guys in Julius Thomas and Marcedes Lewis ahead of him, but will he still contribute?
I think a reasonable expectation is Koyack will be a guy who contributes on Special Teams and as an occasional blocker on offense. I don't imagine he will make too many catches -- a handful at most, really. He is a guy who was asked to do different things in college and will need to use that versatility at the next level in order to be successful.
5. How do you like Koyack's skill set with the Jaguars? Do you think he'll fit well, or are there some things he and the team will have to change?
I think that he has the skill set to succeed with most any team in the NFL. Given that the Jaguars have two receiving threats at the position in Julius Thomas and Marcedes Lewis, it leaves Koyack the opportunity to focus on playing more of the traditional Y role and being a great asset to a young quarterback in the league.
He has gone against some very talented defensive linemen in his Irish career, so the talent level shouldn't be a surprise to him as an in-line blocker. I think as long as the coaches define the role for him, he should be a nice piece to the puzzle and is (in my opinion) a bit of a steal as a seventh-round pick.