A solid performance Sunday from Neal Sterling and Ben Koyack could have provided a glimpse at the future for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Not much was expected from the tight end position on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. With both Julius Thomas and Marcedes Lewis out, the Jacksonville Jaguars had to turn to young guys Neal Sterling and Ben Koyack.
But in what was ultimately a losing effort to the Bills, the two tight ends showed they could be productive for the Jaguars offense moving forward.
The two seventh-round selections in the 2015 draft combined for four catches for 39 yards on Sunday. Obviously those aren’t eye-popping numbers, but the productivity was far more quality than quantity.
Ben Koyack hauled in a 17-yard completion in the third quarter, and Neal Sterling brought in two completions on key third down situations, each of which were enough to move the chains.
If these two young players continue to develop and fine tune their game this season, they could put heat on the team’s current number one tight end Julius Thomas, and give the Jaguars interesting decisions to make.
Thomas was the Jaguars’ big free agent signing in 2015, and was expected to put up big numbers for the team. While it has not completely been his fault, he has under-performed mightily with Jacksonville.
Marcedes Lewis’ tenure with the team will also be in limbo. He was placed on IR last week, ending his 11th season with the team. His future with the Jaguars could also be uncertain going into next season.
If Koyack and Sterling develop for this offense and turn into reliable contributors, two things could potentially result from it heading forward:
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It could provide the spark needed to light a fire under Thomas, and get him performing to his potential. Thomas playing to his fullest capabilities would be big for a struggling quarterback and an inconsistent offense.
Or it could show Jacksonville that they have viable options at the position who are young and with untapped potential for the future, and give them a decision to make on Thomas and Lewis if they so choose. The young players are significantly cheaper.
A team not short of intriguing storylines to follow has thrown one more in the mix. The potential progression of Neal Sterling and Ben Koyack is important for the offense, and also for the future of the tight end position within the team.