Jacksonville Jaguars 2017 NFL Draft: Tight end deserves attention


The Jacksonville Jaguars could use some help at tight end in the 2017 NFL Draft.

The hubbub around the Michael DiRocco’s prediction that Julius Thomas may be cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars really focused attention on the tight end position. It was the kind of suggestion that makes sense financially and performance wise but still may never come true.

And yet there are some tight ends in the 2017 NFL Draft that would be a good fit for the Jaguars if they decide to move on from Thomas.

Right now the Jags feature Thomas, an aged Marcedes Lewis, Ben Koyack, Neal Sterling, and Alex Ellis at tight end. With Thomas’ regression and Lewis’ age it makes sense that the team would want to bring in a dominant new player at the position.

Koyack is a former seventh round pick who contributed 19 catches, 161 yards, and a touchdown in 14 games and seven starts. Sterling, another former seventh round pick, gave the Jags 12 catches for 110 yards over 10 games and one start. Ellis contributed three catches for 11 yards in eight games and three starts.

To say that the players behind overpriced Thomas and aged Lewis are not particularly threatening would be an understatement. This isn’t to say that Koyack, Sterling, and Ellis don’t have potential (they do and have shown some flashes) but they aren’t jumping off the page consistently. Gambling on one of them becoming a top-flight tight end is likely a losing endeavor.

Which brings the Jags to the offseason and the need for new talent at the position. Thomas and Lewis may be around a little longer but it doesn’t look like there is that much future left. Drafting a young stud at the position could open things up for the team’s future.

Assuming the Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t crazy enough to use the fourth overall pick on a tight end reach (they really, really shouldn’t), it’s important to consider the rounds after day one. Gerald Everett of South Alabama immediately jumps off the page.

While this may at first seem like a small school “Gene Smith” pick, there could be more than meets the eye. Writes, Daniel Jeremiah (who has Everett ranked 35 among his top-50 prospects):

"Everett usually lined up flexed in the slot, but on occasion he put his hand on the ground. He has average size and bulk for the position but he is an excellent athlete. In the passing game, he is sudden in his release and very quick in and out of breaks at the top of his route. He has strong hands to pluck the ball in traffic, and has produced some huge plays on simple underneath throws. After the catch, he uses his speed to pull away from defenders and has the ability to make people miss as well. In the run game, he isn’t very physical but his effort is strong and he effectively mirrors and walls off opponents. Overall, don’t let the smaller school fool you. This is a big-time talent who could emerge as a top-tier tight end in the NFL."

Take a look at some of what he did last year.

It’s a lower level of competition, but it may be one worth watching. Everett shows physicality and the ability to also be a fluid route runner and slip behind defenses.

Next: Could Jamal Adams be the first round selection?

If the Jags really want to find a threat to add to the team and help quarterback Blake Bortles more than Thomas has thus far in his Jags tenure, Everett could be the guy.