In Part I, I announced that the tight end position looks to be the surprise secret weapon of the Jaguars 2010 season. We talked about the coaching developments that will bring this about. Specifically we pointed out the Dirk Koetter is free to run his own offense and that Rob Boras is a surprise great pickup as a coach. Rob Boras developed a top tight end group while with the Chicago Bears.
But the coaches don’t play, they players do. So in Part II, we need to examine who will take the field. The good news is we have a strong roster of tight ends. So let’s get on with it!
– Zoltan Paksa
Marcedes Lewis: The only 1st round selection from the James “Shack” Harris era; who finally plays and looks like as a 1st rounder. Shack did have a very very good 2006 draft class which produced also Maurice Drew, Marcedes teammate at UCLA. Marcedes is a very good blocker; we know that so far. But in ’09; he was one of the most reliable target David Garrard had. He made key 3rd and 4th down catches and he had 8 games last year when he had at least one 20 or longer yard catch. He recorded 1/3rd of the receiving total yards of his 4 year long career in 2009. Also he was a key contributor for blocking for MJD as well. He is a total package TE now who can block and receive very well. He suffered a very ugly injury against the Patriots on Week 16; which ended his 2009 season (he had a concussion); but he is 100% healthy now. He was the 3rd alternative for the ’09 Pro Bowl; which shows that the league also discovered his improvement last season (If he is healthy for 16 games; I think he will be close for make the AFC Pro Bowl team this season). By the way here is a piece of very important information about him, he is in his contract year! I say; if he shows big numbers during the first part of the season, then I would advise Gene Smith to extend him before the season end. He has become a cornerstone of the offense; the Jaguars can’t let him walk away!
Zach Miller: Gene’s 6th round pick last year -the “poor men’s Tim Tebow” as he called himself when he arrived to Jacksonville. The former QB from Omaha/Nebraska was sidelined by an injury in the first games of his rookie year. When he recovered he showed why some people think he can be the Jaguars version of Dallas Clark and Owen Daniels. Especially in the second half he was very productive. He had a 62 yard catch against the Texans (2nd game) where he embarrassed Brian Cushing! He also had 2 TDs in the last game against Cleveland. (The very last play of the ’09 Jags was a TD throw from Garrard to Miller). How much this counts, I don’t know. The team looks at him as a pass catching TE; although he said; he want to improve in the blocking area. Sadly he is sidelined with an injury so far in mini camp and OTAs; which raises some durability issues with him. But let’s hope he will recover for training camp and for the season and develops to be that 2nd TE that Koetter might want to use in some plays!
Ernest Wilford: The WR who became TE bounced back with his new-old team after a not so successful period (to say the least…) with the Miami Dolphins. He always has had good chemistry with the team and QB David Garrard. He scored a TD and recorded 123 yards last year. He brings veteran experience and character to the team. He just recently cut his hair which haven’t seen scissors in 7 years, he did it for charity! He needs to prove himself in training camp versus the young UDFAs; but I project he will be the 3rd TE for the Jaguars this season.
Zach Potter: The player I think has the biggest threat to Ernest is one of the UDFA talent Gene brought to the team. He even saw real action against Cleveland in the last regular season games. Unless there is an injury or Wilford’s declines during training camp or he shows something extra, I think it is safe to say he will battle for a practice squad position against 2 UDFA rookies (Jason Harmon from Florida Atlantic or Mike Caussin from James Madison).
Well that is a good bunch of tight ends! Marcedes Lewis, Zach Miller and Ernest Wilford all bring playmaker ability to the team. But there are concerns, there are always concerns. Let’s discuss…