The 2019 draft class has tons of talent at tight end and the Jacksonville Jaguars desperately need a quality player at the position. Who could they take?
The Jacksonville Jaguars are in desperate need for a quality tight end. Marcedes Lewis was a great player and contributed to the team in many different ways for over a decade, but he was not a star receiving tight end. He was more known for his outstanding blocking ability than his ability as a game-breaking pass catcher.
Julius Thomas was signed in the 2015 offseason in hopes he would provide a consistent red zone threat, but it turned out that he was more a product of Peyton Manning than a true star tight end so he was traded to Miami. Austin Seferian-Jenkins was signed with the hope that he could solve the Jaguars questions at the position but he only played in five games because of injury last season and was released prior to free agency.
James O’Shaughnessy has just opted to stay in Duval and Jacksonville has signed free agent Geoff Swaim . However, barring a substantial uptick in production neither player seems to be the type of tight end that defenses fear. This years tight end class has plenty of talent, and if Jacksonville were to draft one of these top tight end prospects it would provide an immediate boost to the offense.
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Here is a look at potential tight end prospects the Jaguars should look at in the NFL Draft.
TJ Hockenson, Iowa – Measurements – 6’5, 250 lbs
NFL Combine Results: 40 yard dash: 4.7, Bench Press: 17 reps, Vertical Jump: 37.5 inches
TJ Hockenson is the most polished tight end in this years draft class. He has fantastic hands, is great at running routes and creating space, and is a very good blocker. Hockenson is the definition of a do-it-all tight end. He has very good size, and coupled with his soft hands and fantastic leaping ability he could be a terror in the redzone.
His game really has no weakness and if there is one he covers it up very well. If he is drafted he would become Foles Mo. 1 tight end in an instant. While drafting a tight end with the seventh pick isn’t very common, Jacksonville has a major need and Hockenson has the talent and the potential to be picked at that spot.
Noah Fant, Iowa – Measurements – 6’5, 241 lbs
NFL Combine Results: 40 yard dash: 4.5, Bench Press: 20 reps, Vertical Jump: 39.5 inches
Noah Fant is the other half of Iowa’s dynamic tight end duo. Less polished then his teammate but with potential through the roof, Fant is someone who potentially could pose a match up problem that will leave coaches heads spinning.
He is too fast for most linebackers and too big for most corners, Fant has the potential to be a pro bowl caliber tight end. He needs to work on the small details of his game however, he isn’t the most reliable run blocker and sometimes can drop the football when he hears footsteps. He probably isn’t worth a 7th overall pick but he should go in the first round.
Jacksonville could possibly trade back and draft him later or hope he falls into the 2nd. If he does fall into the 2nd Jacksonville would be looking at one of the steals of the draft if he is coached well. He will probably be best served as a receiver and play the role that Jimmy Graham thrived in for the New Orleans Saints, I see a lot of similarities in their play style.
Irv Smith, Alabama – Measurements – 6’2 242 lbs
NFL Combine Results: 40 yard dash: 4.63, Bench Press: 19 reps, Vertical Jump: 32.5 inches
Irv Smith is very similar to Hockenson in that he could do everything asked of a tight end, he just doesn’t do it as well. He is a very solid blocker, coming out of the SEC he has faced tough linebackers and defensive lineman throughout his college career.
He has good hands, but he lacks desired height for an NFL tight end and he doesn’t make up for the lack of height with rare leaping ability either. He does posses very good strength however and will be able to create holes for running backs to run through. He also does have very good speed for a tight end and he has been known to outrun defenders.
Much like Fant, Smith will probably be someone Jacksonville will either have to trade back for or hope that he falls into the second round. I see his style of play very similar to Charles Clay or Dallas Clark, both of whom were shorter tight ends with good speed.
Alize Mack, Notre Dame – Measurements – 6’4 249 lbs
NFL Combine Results: 40-yard dash: 4.7, Bench Press: 22 reps, Vertical Jump: 36 inches
Alize Mack is a very good receiving tight end who will cause a lot of matchup problems for opposing defenses. He will need some coaching because he is a raw talent, but Mack has the potential to be a terror to opposing defenses.
He has average speed but phenomenal strength and very good leaping ability for a tight end. He is good at catching in traffic flashing some plays with defenders draped all over him. He needs to work on his blocking ability however, but with his size and strength, he should be able to perform as a blocker once he understands proper technique.
He is someone who should probably not be drafted until the third round of this years draft, but is a player who has a lot of upside if coached well. His play style is similar to Austin Hooper or Tyler Eifert.