JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's been hard to ignore tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins during the Jaguars' offseason program. Day after day and drill after drill, the 25-year-old tight end has made his 6-foot-6, 262-pound presence known on the practice field.
Seferian-Jenkins has a been a favorite target of quarterback Blake Bortles throughout the Jaguars' early practice sessions. Using his speed and size to his advantage, Seferian-Jenkins has made several notable plays off Bortles' well-timed passes.
While the knock on Seferian-Jenkins has always been his blocking prowess (or lack thereof), his dynamic talent as a receiver has been largely understated.
"This will be my best year receiving, this will be my best year blocking and I've got to give a lot of credit to the coaches that I've been with throughout my years [in the NFL]," Seferian-Jenkins said Wednesday.
Seferian-Jenkins signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the Jaguars during free agency in March. A little while later, the team released its longest-tenured player, tight end Marcedes Lewis, creating a big hole for the Jaguars' run-first attack.
Lewis was among the best blocking tight ends in the league last season, which helped then-rookie running back Leonard Fournette eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in his first season. With the veteran now in Green Bay, Seferian-Jenkins will be asked to pick up some of the blocking slack.
While blocking isn't a strength for Seferian-Jenkins, his effort this offseason could help him improve in the eyes of his critics.
"We run the ball, so I guess we'll find out if I can run block or not," Seferian-Jenkins said.
"There's no doubt in my mind I can be the best run-blocking, pass-catching tight end in the league. I'm not worried about it. I've got a good opportunity to come in here and do what I can to help this team win as many games as possible and everyone else will decide how the blocking is, but I'm going to block as hard as I can for my teammates."
Seferian-Jenkins has been a fixture of the Jaguars' practice facility since signing his deal with the team. His team-first mentality has been noticeable during practice and local charity events.
Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has been impressed bySeferian
-Jenkins' approach to learning his new playbook.
"His work ethic has been awesome – just coming in here and learning a new system," Hackett said prior to the team's second minicamp practice.
"His desire and want [are] great. Then, you add in his size and his speed and ability to block, which I think has been something that has been really exciting to see from him. The more guys you can get on the field that you feel can make a play and that Blake can sit back there and trust, the more excited you are going to be. The more opportunities we are going to have to be efficient and get big plays. He definitely adds another dimension.”
The former second-round pick has benefited from the challenges he has faced during the offseason program. The Jaguars' defense features a handful of Pro Bowl players and the entire unit is stacked with talent.
Matching up with one of the best defenses in the league on an everyday basis is an opportunity that Seferian-Jenkins has wholeheartedly embraced.
"I don't know anyone else in the entire NFL that gets to practice against a defense like we have," Seferian-Jenkins said. "I don't know anybody else in football that gets this look every single day. We've got to be really thankful on offense, really thankful to the defense for giving us these looks because it's going to make us great."
Much like the defense's impact on Seferian-Jenkins, the unit can benefit from his talent as well. Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash sees the problems that Seferian-Jenkins creates for opposing teams and knows that his unit will grow from its work against him in practice.
"He's a matchup issue," defensive coordinator Todd Wash said. "We knew that when we played against him with the Jets last year. He's a big body, he can run, he does some great things [with] extending the field vertically, so he's going to be a great addition to our offense and he's tough to play against, which is going to make us better because obviously, we play against good tight ends."
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.