The Jacksonville Jaguars spent big money on the tight end position in the 2015 NFL offseason, locking up Julius Thomas with the thought that he would significantly improve their passing game. He ended up with just under 500 receiving yards with five touchdowns, but he really only played a significant role in 10 games last year after missing the preseason and start of the season with a hand injury. A lot of people seem to view his season as a disappointment, but beyond the numbers it wasn't. The tight end position as a whole for the Jaguars in 2016 might put up more on the stat sheet than they did in 2015 because the focus will shift to the wide receivers.
Lets take a look at what the team has at the position.
Returning player(s): Julius Thomas, Marcedes Lewis, Nic Jacobs, Ben Koyack, Neal Sterling
New player(s): Braedon Bowman
Outgoing player(s): Clay Harbor
Bubble player(s): Ben Koyack, Nic Jacobs, Neal Sterling, Braedon Bowman
As mentioned before, many people seem to talk about the Jaguars tight end position as if it were a disappointment last season, but having watched the film and breaking things down, I think that's more a reaction from a fantasy football (raw stats) viewpoint. Sure, most would have liked to see Julius Thomas have more than the 50/500/5 he did last year, but his presence on the field alone contributed a lot to the Jaguars offense. Teams had to factor him over the middle of the field, so it gave the likes of Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson favorable matchups on the outside and we see how that turned out. Thomas started getting incorporated into the game plan later in the year and was becoming a threat in the passing game, so I would expect him to be that more-so in 2016.
I think he'll end up in the 700ish range for yardage and as long as his touchdown numbers stay about the same, we're cookin'.
After Julius we're getting at least one more season of Marcedes Lewis, which I think is just fine. He's not the blocking force he used to be, but he still provides what you look for out of a combo tight end and will no doubt have at least two catches next season where he looks like Rob Gronkowski and we'll all be reminded of the talent that was kinda wasted during his prime seasons as a pseudo-right tackle.
The real question will be how the third or fourth tight end, depending on how many they keep, shakes out. I like Nic Jacobs in that they don't have a true blocking tight end, but someone like Neal Sterling can be the eventual replacement "joker" for Thomas. Koyack is kind of a combination tight end, jack of all trades. I tend to think the Jaguars will only keep three, and if they plan to run the ball as much as I think they do, I would lean to Jacobs.