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Does Julius Thomas look like the real deal?

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Without Peyton Manning, will Julius Thomas still be the tight end the Jaguars signed him to be this offseason? Absolutely.

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

One of the new additions for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the offseason was free agent tight end Julius Thomas. He was a big splash for the Jaguars, as they made him the highest paid tight end in the NFL and the highest paid Jaguars player ever. (I think.)

Thomas had been ultra-productive with the Denver Broncos the previous two seasons, even dealing with injuries, hauling in over 20 touchdowns.

The tight end position in the passing game has been something the Jaguars have missed, on a consistency basis, for years. Veteran Marcedes Lewis would have flashes and spots here and there of being a threat, but the consistency wasn’t there. With the addition of Thomas, that should change.

When you’re at training camp, No. 80 will be one to pay attention to and I’m not sure you’ll have to look very hard for him based on some things I heard from OTA practices. Thomas is a big athletic passing threat that Blake Bortles should find comfort in, since he’s a matchup nightmare. You should see him easily in the red zone. You should see him easily down the seam and over the middle.

He should be the real deal, with or without Peyton Manning.

The Jaguars don’t need Thomas to be the focal point of their offense this season, but if he’s the focal point of opposing defenses than you’re getting what you paid for in Thomas. Someone the defense has to check and be aware of on a given play, something the Jaguars haven’t had since Maurice Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushing.

I’m not sure if Thomas will replicate his production for the Broncos with the Jaguars, but if he can get 75 percent of that, it will help the Jaguars leaps and bounds, particularly in the red zone, where they’ve struggled for what seems like a decade.