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With the NFL offseason upon us, here are some important dates coming up over the next three months to mark on your calendar:
· February 26-March 4 – NFL Combine; Indianapolis, IN
· March 5 – Franchise/transition tag deadline at 4:00pm EST
· March 11-13 – Free Agency tampering window opens
· March 13 – NFL Free Agency officially opens at 4:00pm EST
· March 24-27 – Annual league meetings
· April 1 – Offseason workouts for clubs with new head coaches
· April 15 – Offseason workouts for clubs with returning head coaches
· April 19 – Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign tender
· April 25-27 – NFL Draft; Nashville, TN
Between NFL Free Agency and the 2019 NFL Draft, here are some avenues the Jaguars could pursue when it comes to building the blueprint of the tight end position.
Pharoah McKeever (futures contract)
Woof. There’s not need to go into much analysis here, as the Jaguars may have the worst tight end depth chart in the league outside of the Bills. It’s entirely possible that the team would be open to bringing back James O’Shaughnessy, but you would think this would have happened already if it were in the cards. With new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo philosophically big on utilizing tight ends, you would have to imagine the front office prioritizing a position that has traditionally been an afterthought in Jacksonville.
The tight end class in free agency is so weak that I couldn’t even separate the premium versus bargain free agents. There have already been rumblings about the Jaguars challenging the Bills for the services of Jesse James, and while they would likely be severely overpaying due to the lack of supply (probably somewhere close to $8 million APY), I would trust Flip to make James effective in the offense like he did with journeyman Gary Barnidge in Cleveland. Tyler Eifert appears to be finally healthy following his gruesome ankle/foot injury in 2018, but his long track record of injuries may scare off a Jaguars team stressing availability in 2019. Recent cap casualty Dion Sims is nothing to write home about but would add another veteran body to the room, and Maxx Williams never realized his potential in Baltimore. An under-the-radar guy to consider is C.J. Uzomah, who finally got meaningful reps in Cincinnati after Eifert’s injury and would be an extremely cost-effective high upside signing.
Draft Day Two Options
Irv Smith Jr.
I didn’t list T.J. Hockenson here only because I think the chances of him lasting to the second round are slim-to-none. Hockenson’s Iowa teammate, Noah Fant, is also unlikely to be around by the Jaguars second round pick, but would be an exceptional athlete to transform the tight end position in Jacksonville. Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr. is one of the youngest players in the draft (won’t turn 21 until August) and is probably the third and final guy in this class who could develop into an alpha playmaker at tight end. Another player I’m higher on than most is Stanford’s Kaden Smith, who is solid in all facets of the game and is a better receiver than given credit for. Smith compares similarly to fellow former Stanford tight end Zach Ertz.
Draft Day Three Options
If the Jaguars don’t land a tight end in the first two days of the draft, don’t sweat it. In fact, with Tom Coughlin’s Giants teams never selecting a tight end before the 100th pick in the draft and Dave Caldwell never selecting one before the 7th round, history would suggest it’s almost a certainty we won’t see a Jaguars tight end selection until day three. The good news is that this class is rife at the position and day three could be a sweet spot. Foster Moreau was the most impressive tight end to me at the Senior Bowl and has elite leadership skills that would be a huge asset to the locker room. Moreau’s relationship with Leonard Fournette, who has listed Moreau as “an honorary Fournette,” would be an extra bonus. Isaac Nauta didn’t have the eye-popping production at Georgia, but the Jacksonville Jaguars fan is a balanced player who is reliable in both the pass and run game. Tommy Sweeney from Tom Coughlin’s old Boston College stomping grounds is another gritty, reliable player who looks like he could be an underrated athlete based off his week in Mobile. Washington’s Drew Sample is another good blocking tight end prospect who could contribute as a receiver, similar to fellow Husky Will Dissly last year.
Undrafted Free Agent Options
If they keep all seven of their picks, the Jaguars could take a couple of tight ends on day three to fill out the room. In such a strong and deep tight end class, it’s also possible they go hard at prioritizing some tight end/fullback hybrids to replace Tommy Bohanon’s role on the roster. West Virginia’s Trevon Wesco, Texas’ Andrew Beck, and USF’s Tyre McCants are all prime candidates to be pursued, and Kendall Blanton at 6’7” looks like a Marcedes Lewis clone who could be developed into a solid run blocker.
2019 TE Depth Chart Prediction