If Jaguars need an impression tight finish, they’d higher act rapidly within the draft

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Coach City Meyer was fairly clear the Jacksonville Jaguars wanted a pass-catching tight finish, and since they didn’t signal one in free company it’s equally clear it will likely be a precedence within the draft.

The Jaguars had higher choose one within the first three rounds, although, as a result of current historical past exhibits that it’s laborious to search out an impression tight finish after that. It’s not not possible — Antonio Gates was undrafted, Delanie Walker was a sixth-round choose, and George Kittle was a fifth-round choose, for instance — however drafting one early is a a lot better possibility.

In trying on the highest-producing tight ends over the previous 20 years, 13 of the highest 20 when it comes to receptions had been first- or second-round picks. Tony Gonzalez, the NFL’s all-time receptions chief amongst tight ends (and third total), was a first-round choose. Rob Gronkowski, who has the third-most TD catches amongst tight ends since 2001 with 86, was a second-round choose. Zach Ertz, who holds the single-season document for many receptions by a good finish (116 in 2018), was a second-round choose.

4 extra of the highest 20 had been third-round picks, together with Jason Witten, whose 1,228 receptions are second solely to Gonzalez amongst tight ends and rank fourth total in NFL historical past, and Travis Kelce, who surpassed 100 catches twice previously three seasons. Jimmy Graham and Jared Cook dinner additionally had been third-round picks.

Solely three of the highest 20 gamers had been taken after the third spherical: Gates, Walker and Owen Daniels (fourth spherical).

So the Jaguars’ finest probability of touchdown a good finish that may be a serious a part of the passing sport — one thing that hasn’t occurred a lot round right here, and positively by no means to the extent of what the gamers talked about above have accomplished — is to search out one by the tip of Day 2 of the draft. The Jaguars have 5 picks within the first three rounds (two every within the first and second rounds) and are doubtless taking quarterback Trevor Lawrence first total.

Florida’s Kyle Pitts will nearly assuredly be lengthy gone by the point the Jaguars choose twenty fifth, however there are another intriguing prospects — similar to Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth, Boston Faculty’s Hunter Lengthy and Miami’s Brevin Jordan — that the Jaguars may goal within the second or third spherical. Freiermuth could possibly be the choose to start out the second spherical.

There’s no assure about any of these gamers and the Jaguars shouldn’t power the choose, but when they do have good evaluations on any of them and imagine they are often impression gamers, then it’s higher to take them within the second or third moderately than ready on the place or hoping they slide.

The Jaguars’ draft historical past with tight ends is … not good. They’ve drafted 9 because the group’s inception (together with Derek Brown within the 1995 enlargement draft), however simply two sooner than the fourth spherical: Marcedes Lewis (28th total in 2006) and Josh Oliver (third spherical in 2019). Lewis is the franchise’s all-time chief amongst tight ends in receptions (375), receiving yards (4,502) and TD catches (33), and he’s third total within the first two classes and second solely to vast receiver Jimmy Smith in landing catches.

Oliver performed in 4 video games and had simply three catches in his first two seasons due to accidents, and the Jaguars traded him to Baltimore final month for a conditional seventh-round draft choose in 2022.

Of the remaining 9 gamers within the franchise’s high 10 when it comes to tight finish receptions, six had been both free-agent signees, signed off the road, or acquired through commerce: Kyle Brady, Pete Mitchell, James O’Shaughnessy, Julius Thomas, Clay Harbor and Tyler Eifert.

After Lewis, the perfect tight finish the Jaguars have drafted is George Wrighster, a fourth-round choose in 1990 who went on to catch 94 passes for 850 yards and 9 touchdowns in his six-year profession.

Jaguars tight ends have not often been outstanding components of the passing sport. Solely three in franchise historical past have caught 48 or extra passes — a mean of simply three per sport over 16 video games — in a single season: Mitchell (52 in 1996), Brady (64 in 2000) and Lewis (58 in 2010 and 52 in 2012).

Three catches per sport, even for a run-oriented group, isn’t asking an excessive amount of. Particularly because the Jaguars haven’t precisely had dynamic receivers since Jimmy Smith retired after the 2005 season. They’ve had solely three receivers document 1,000-yard seasons since then (Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in 2015 and DJ Chark Jr. in 2019) and have had solely two gamers with 70 or extra catches in a season (Robinson in 2015-16 and Chark in 2019).

Tight finish is a precedence within the NFL in the present day greater than ever and the Jaguars ought to deal with it as such.

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