Will the Jacksonville Jaguars be able to find a reliable tight end either in free agency or in the NFL Draft?
The Jaguars are in desperate need of a solid tight end. The team hasn’t had a reliable tight end since Marcedes Lewis moved on.
The importance of the tight end position in the modern NFL cannot be stressed too much.
Per Cody Swartz of Bleacher Report, “Gradually, the tight end has evolved from a brute blocker to a speedy pass catcher. NFL teams nowadays actually prefer a guy who can stretch the field and play a major role in the passing game. Guys who are too big for safeties and too fast for linebackers—these players cause mismatch problems every time they step on the field.”
The position has evolved from a blocker to a pass receiver. There was a time when it was unheard of to draft a tight end in the higher rounds of the draft. This has changed and every team in the NFL covets at least one pass-catching tight end and a blocking tight end as well.
Tight ends are ideally tall, strong, and large enough to be effective when blocking linebackers and defensive linemen. Good hands to catch the ball are a requirement. They are often the second or third option for the quarterback and are asked to catch passes in the middle of the field so they need to be alert at all times.
In addition, the tight end must have the athletic ability to get into his stance quickly for blocking purposes and avoid linebackers and safeties when catching passes. The tight end is truly the offensive Jack of all trades. Many teams use their tight ends as a focal point of the offense and offensive sets with two and sometimes three tight ends are not unusual.
There are a large number of free-agent tight ends who may or may not be available. My criteria are as follows: must be an unrestricted free agent, required to be a proven pass receiver, and preferably under thirty years of age. Let’s start with Tyler Eifert. He is currently a Bengal with an unfortunate injury history but played the entire season in 2019. He caught 43 passes for 436 yards.
Next is Hunter Henry from the Chargers. He also has injury concerns but had a good season in 2019 with 55 receptions for 652 yards. My final player is Austin Hooper. He is a dream choice who may command a larger salary than the Jaguars can afford. He is ranked in the top 10 of tight ends in the NFL. He caught 75 passes for 787 yards this past season and six touchdowns.
The Jaguars may look to take another tight end via the NFL Draft. Based on what I looked at, there are two possible choices I think make sense.
First is Jared Pinkney out of Vanderbilt. Pinkney is 6’4’’ and 254 pounds. Although he only caught 20 passes for 254 yards he was hamstrung in 2019 by a poor passing game. CBS Sports rates him as the No. 56 overall draft choice.
The other is Harrison Bryant from Florida Atlantic, who is a top pass receiver with 65 receptions for 1,004 yards. He has good size at 6’4’’ and 254 pounds. He was rated by CBS Sports as the 110th overall draft prospect in April. Both are great potential receivers and have the size to block as well.
Either one would be a great choice and allow the Jaguars to use our first three draft choices for other positions of need.