Jaguars 90-man roster breakdown: Tight ends

Jaguars beat writer Mike Kaye breaks down the tight end position entering training camp

As we countdown the days until training camp, First Coast News is taking a look at each position group on the Jaguars' roster. Our positional series continues with a focus on the tight end position.

Previous Breakdowns

Quarterback

Running Back

Fullback

Wide Receiver

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Projected Depth Chart

Marcedes Lewis

Ht/Wt: 6-6, 280 lbs.

Experience: 12th Season

Career Numbers: 351 catches for 4,184 receiving yards and 28 touchdowns

Acquisition: Selected with a first-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft

 

Mychal Rivera

Ht/Wt: 6-3, 245 lbs.

Experience: 5th Season

Career Numbers: 146 catches for 1,413 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns

Acquisition: Signed as a veteran free agent this offseason

 

Ben Koyack

Ht/Wt: 6-5, 269 lbs.

Experience: 2nd Season (spent 2015 on Jaguars' practice squad)

Career Numbers: 19 catches for 161 receiving yards and a touchdown

Acquisition: Selected with a seventh-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft

 

Neal Sterling

Ht/Wt: 6-4, 254 lbs.

Experience: 3rd Season

Career Numbers: 12 catches for 110 receiving yards

Acquisition: Selected with a seventh-round pick in the  2015 NFL Draft

 

Alex Ellis

Ht/Wt: 6-4, 240 lbs.

Experience: 2nd Season

Career Numbers: Three catches for 11 receiving yards

Acquisition: Signed off practice squad in 2016

 

Caleb Bluiett

Ht/Wt: 6-3, 252 lbs.

Experience: Rookie

Career Numbers: N/A

Acquisition: Signed as an undrafted free agent this offseason

 

 

Storylines for 2017 training camp

- Who starts in 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end) sets?

- Will the Jaguars keep four tight ends?

- Can Koyack elevate his game to make Lewis or Rivera expendable in the long-term plans?

Competition entering training camp

Forcing the Jaguars to keep four tight ends

The Jaguars seem intent on keeping both Rivera and Lewis this season. The team also seems to be high on Koyack after he showed a strong mix of blocking and receiving prowess last season. 

Those three may not be "locks" for the roster, but they are likely to stick around. That's why Sterling, Ellis and Bluiett will have to play lights out this offseason to force the Jaguars to keep four tight ends.

The Jaguars will use a fullback this season. They also have three talented receivers who they want to get on the field. Those variables may put a limitation on playing time for two-tight end sets. 

Without regular two-tight end sets, it may not be necessary to house four players at the position.

The Jaguars want to the best players on the roster, regardless of position, so the depth group will have to prove it belongs.

Sterling is probably the favorite if the Jaguars keep four tight ends. He was a seventh-round pick just two years ago and came back with added muscle this offseason. The transition from a small school wide receiver to an NFL tight end has gone well, but he has continue to get better. He missed the majority of the offseason program with an undisclosed injury.

Ellis showed upside as a blocker last season, but he still has practice squad eligibility. Bluiett is probably competing for a practice squad spot at this point in the offseason.

Positional Overview

The Jaguars have a nice mix at the tight end position. 

Lewis is a phenomenal blocker and the longest-tenured player on the roster. His value is still there as he enters his 12th season.

Rivera is the other end of the spectrum, as he is probably the strongest receiver of the group. He admitted that he needed to work on his blocking this offseason, but his ability to catch the football makes him a reasonable replacement for Julius Thomas.

Koyack offers blocking and receiving but could stand to improve in both areas. The former seventh-round pick may be able to carve out a bigger role moving forward.

Sterling needs to use his added muscle to show he can hang as a blocker. He has special teams and receiving ability, but blocking will be important moving forward.

Ellis and Bluiett should receive plenty of time in the preseason to prove that they at least deserve a practice squad spot.

Coaching Outlook

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone on Lewis' fit in the offense:

“He has played the game for such a long time. Height, weight and speed. It is hard to find someone at that position that can give you something in the passing game, but also can give you something in the run game. It is probably the latter that is tougher to find. I think that is a position, like I said before, when you look at the draft and you start to analyze things, you look at the positions – whether you want to call it devalued, which I don’t look at it as a devalued position, but as far as what the finances are going into it. You look at the true fullback and the true blocking ‘Y’ tight end. It is hard to find those players. Those players aren’t ones that, maybe, are going extremely high. What you are finding is the ‘F’ tight end that can run and be a mismatch problem, which we had a couple of those guys in the draft [this year]. I think when you get a player that has the combination of both, I think that has great value. I think Marcedes has always had that. Good intermediate routes, good height and range for down the field, potential red zone [target]. With his ability to block, he has probably always been one of the top guys in the league at his position. That is what has separated him from others.”

Wednesday's focus will be on the Jaguars' offensive tackle position.

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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