The 2018 NFL Draft is three weeks from today.
With NFL teams finalizing their draft boards, and needs being relatively evident for each team after the free agency period came and went, it’s time to begin evaluating prospect fits at positions of need for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
To begin this series, let’s look at how Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki would fit into the Jaguars’ offense.
Measurables: (#) = Percentiles vs. NFL TEs
Height: 6-5 1/2 (78) 40 yard dash: 4.54 (92) 20 shuttle: 4.1 (95)
Weight: 247 (21) Vertical: 41 1/2 (98) 60 shuttle: 11.33 (96)
Arms: 34 1/8 (84) Broad: 10-9 (96) Bench: 22 (65)
Hands: 10 1/4 (78) 3 cone: 6.76 (98)
Mike Gesicki is an incredible athlete, as seen by his measurables. But, if those numbers aren’t enough to convince you, Gesicki was a three-sport athlete in high school, playing not only football but basketball and volleyball as well.
Gesicki’s combination of size and athleticism presents a matchup on paper that most defenders would be scared of facing, and his on-field production backs that up. He finished his career as Penn State’s all time leader in receptions at tight end, with 129 catches for 1481 yards and 15 touchdowns. 11 of his 15 touchdowns came in the redzone.
On top of his ability to track balls and dominate defenders on 50-50 balls, Gesicki is a relatively clean route runner and utilizes his athletic prowess to create his separation.
Penn State often spread Gesicki across the field, whether it be as an outside receiver or a big slot to in-line TE and H-back, and he was able to produce as a receiver from every spot. Teams are looking for dynamic tight ends that can line up just about everywhere and produce (see: Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, etc.), so it doesn’t shock me that Gesicki often gets compared to the tight ends mentioned as a receiver.
Gesicki has one glaring weakness on tape: He can’t block.
I do believe the ability to pull-block in the run game is there for Gesicki when he lines up as an H-back/fullback, but as seen in the GIF above, Gesicki doesn’t have the reaction time to block speed rushers, and he also lacks the anchor to take on power rushers 1v1.
Below is an example of Gesicki as a pulling H-back, a positive aspect of his blocking ability:
He lacks the power and hand-usage to maintain his block, but his timing to cut off defenders on inside zone can be utilized when running the ball from the shotgun.
As a receiver, Gesicki doesn’t have many weaknesses other than his strength, which I noted when talking about his blocking. He has the ability to avoid jamming near the line of scrimmage due to his explosion off the line and athleticism, but if a defender does land a jam on Gesicki, he struggles to get back in stride to complete his route. However, considering the way I view Gesicki as a fit in Jacksonville, these weaknesses don’t bother me all too much…
Fit in Jacksonville
If the Jaguars are to select Gesicki, I expect them to incorporate him in the offense as a “big slot” TE/WR combo position. The team lacks star power in their receiver corps, and other than the potential that newly-signed WR Donte Moncrief offers, the Jaguars don’t have a true 50-50 type of receiver that they once owned in Allen Robinson.
QB Blake Bortles utilized the playmaker in Robinson when he saw the field, often pitching the ball his way with a high trust level that, even if the ball was inaccurate, Robinson would come down with the pass more so than not. Gesicki has the potential to offer Bortles’ this both outside and in the slot, and after releasing the 6-3 WR Allen Hurns, who played 35.9% of his snaps from the slot in 2017, the Jaguars don’t currently have a big-play threat within the numbers and up the seams.
Bortles also seems to be most comfortable as a passer in the redzone, where he has 36 touchdowns and only two interceptions in the past two seasons. As I noted above, 11 of Gesicki’s 15 touchdown receptions came in the redzone. The tight end would likely become Bortles’ #1 target within the opponent’s 20 yard line from the get-go.
TL;DR: Gesicki could ideally replace Allen Robinson’s big-play ability and Allen Hurns’ role at the same time in playing the “big slot” position, with the size to win in the middle of the field and the athleticism to be a deep threat and trusted 50-50 guy, especially in the redzone.
Yes, Jacksonville wants to run the ball. Drafting a tight end who excels as a blocker would make a ton of sense. But Mike Gesicki possesses the skillset that teams dream of in their tight ends as a big-play threat — a skillset that the Jaguars entire receiving corps seems to lack. He’s my dream pick for the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 29th overall selection.
2018 Jacksonville Jaguars Fantasy Football Outlook
It’s the year of our Lord, 2018, and there actually might be a few fantasy relevant Jaguars. I’m here to give you a rundown on what to expect from your Jaguars players in fantasy football this year.
I’ll be breaking down each individual offensive position group and assessing how valuable they are in fantasy and what you can expect from them this year. It’s important to know that this is just one man’s educated opinion and I’m bound to get some stuff wrong but remember, especially for fantasy, it’s always process over results.
The only name worth noting in the quarterback room is our dude, Blake Bortles. Despite his play on the field being less than desirable, he’s often usable for fantasy. From 2015-2017, he’s logged yearly fantasy finishes of QB4, QB11, and QB13.
Right now, according to Fantasy Football Calculator’s ADP, Bortles isn’t even being drafted. That’s bananas. His play on the field and his weekly fantasy football finishes may be a volatile but it’s easy to find the matchups that Bortles will perform well in. Streaming QBs from week to week is the way to go anyway and it’s very easy to do that with Bortles.
Bortles may not be the best QB to draft, as he starts his season off with a Giants defense that should bounce back from their down-2017 season, the Patriots, and then an improved Titans team. After that however, you can grab Bortles off waivers and play him the next four weeks in plus matchups against the Jets, Chiefs, Cowboys, and Texans.
The WR corps is extremely spread out, which isn’t ideal for their own fantasy production but is great for Bortles. He arguably has as many weapons as he’s ever had before and that will only make his life easier. Lastly, Bortles’ tendency to scramble and rush, gives him a safe floor. It’s always a good bet to look for rushing QBs in fantasy and Bortles sneakily rushes a good bit.
I wouldn’t exactly target Bortles in fantasy drafts but he’s a phenomenal target for players following the late round QB strategy or wanting to wait on a 2nd QB in 2QB or Superflex leagues and he can be had with the last pick of your draft.
Leonard Fournette is the star of the show in the Jaguars backfield. Fournette finished as the RB9 last year and had over 1300 total yards and 10 total touchdowns, despite only playing in 13 games.
Things should only get better in 2018. The Jaguars added one of the best left guards in the league in free agency in Andrew Norwell and the left side of the offensive line is going to be deadly. The team also added more pass catching weapons which should help to pull defenders out of the box and make Fournette’s life easier.
Fournette also dropped weight coming into this year. He came into camp weighing about 223 pounds, which is 10-15 pounds lighter than what he played at last year.
Fournette is currently being drafted as the RB8 (1.10), which, without injury, I believe is his floor. Fournette will get the lion’s share of the carries and showed off respectable passing game prowess last year. It’s not out of the question that Fournette could finish as the overall RB1. Admittedly, it’s unlikely but it’s still possible. So drafting him as the RB8 in drafts this year gives you a decent amount of room for him to improve his finish.
The only real threat to Fournette finishing as an RB1 is injury. He has battled with chronic ankle injuries and we saw that last year. Hopefully a full offseason and carrying a lighter frame will help with his ankle issues and we may see a full 15-16 games out of Fournette this season. I would be perfectly happy taking Fournette at the 1st/2nd round turn and I’d really be praying he fell.
Just to highlight his two backups, T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant, I believe Grant is the back to be more excited about. Yeldon is a fine RB and I actually think he’s better than he gets credit for but Grant gives you more to be excited about for fantasy purposes.
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has talked about wanting to get Grant involved more, even without a Fournette injury so he may actually get solid usage if Fournette went down. We saw great usage with Grant in the first half of the AFC Championship Game and Grant showed what he could do when given the touches so this isn’t all just blind hope. Grant displays blinding speed and is always a big play threat. That’s what we want for fantasy, especially if we’re looking for a high upside handcuff.
Boy, did we see a ton of shakeup in the Jaguars wide receiver corps this offseason. Let’s just highlight the changes real quick: Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns departed from Jacksonville, while veteran Donte Moncrief and rookie D.J. Chark joined the team. Marqise Lee also re-signed with the Jaguars on a four year deal.
Well, now that we’re all caught up, the WR corps this year will likely be a combination of Marqise Lee, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, D.J. Chark, Donte Moncrief, and a 6th WR that wins the job during the prseason. This is a lot to digest — nobody really knows who to bet on this year.
Lee has been in Jacksonville for four years and has the most rapport with Blake Bortles but has had a fairly lackluster career thus far. Keelan Cole was an undrafted free agent last year who flashed numerous times as a deep threat and many believe could come out of camp as the WR1.
Westbrook was a 4th round rookie last year who missed the first nine games due to injury, but filled a possession-style role later in the season and into the playoffs. Chark is the new, hyper athletic 2nd round WR who was been having an amazing camp so far. Moncrief came over from the Colts in free agency, and has had a strenuous career thus far, having never been able to stay healthy and eventually leaving the team that drafted him.
This is what makes things so difficult. You could make a convincing argument that any one of these WRs could the best Jags WR for fantasy. What makes it more difficult, is the Jags are a very run heavy team and can likely only support one fantasy-relevant WR all year.
I don’t doubt that each WR will likely have at least one blow-up game but we won’t be able to predict those. To be honest, your best course of action is to just take late round fliers on your favorite guy or two. Only three WRs are even being drafted according to Fantasy Football Calculator’s ADP. Lee at WR51 (11.06), Westbrook at WR63 (14.01), and Cole at WR70 (14.07).
So take a stab on any of them and hope you pick the one that hits. My personal favorite is Keelan Cole as he flashed amazing WR play last year, he can play outside or inside and has apparently looked great in camp too.
To put a bow on things, let’s talk about Austin Seferian-Jenkins. ASJ joined the Jaguars in free agency, after a one year stint with the Jets. He’s had a troubled NFL career thus far but showed out pretty well for the Jets last year, with 357 yards and three touchdowns.
ASJ is a great athlete and a redzone threat, standing at about 6’5” and 260 pounds. Despite his size, ASJ is actually adept at stretching the field and running the seam. Not to mention, he and Bortles already seem to have chemistry and ASJ is talking very highly of Bortles in camp.
The Jags have shown over the years that they want to utilize their TE and ASJ may be the best, most athletic one they’ve had in years. I believe he is extremely underrated in fantasy, as he’s being drafted at the TE17 spot (14.01). Color me shocked if ASJ doesn’t finish higher than TE17 and presents himself as a draft day value in 2018. Tight end is a position, like quarterback, where we should be streaming and playing plus matchups week to week. So I’m not telling you to just draft ASJ then lock and load every week — please don’t. But you could do a lot worse when drafting a TE.
Ramsey, Fowler Suspended by Jaguars for Violating Team Rules
All-Pro Cornerback Jalen Ramsey has been suspended by the Jacksonville Jaguars for a week after addressing a media member via social media today. This, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, is because of a tweet Jalen made following today’s practice. This means he will not participate in joint practices this week against the Minnesota Vikings nor will be participating in the game.
#Jaguars All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey was suspended by the team for a week, sources say, after going after local media for what he believes is unfair treatment of his teammates especially Dante Fowler. He authored several tweets in support of his teammates & disdain for local media.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 12, 2018
This stems from a video made by a media member today during practice featuring a scuffle between defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and defensive end Dante Fowler. Following the posting of that video, Ramsey took to twitter and made the following tweet. Following this tweet, the Jaguars have suspended Jalen for a week.
— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) August 12, 2018
The video in question has been posted below. Here you can see Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler get into some sort of fight. In the end, you can see Ramsey telling media members to turn their cameras off.
After 11 consecutive padded practices, tempers flared during a #Jaguars team period Sunday and continued afterward when Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue repeatedly had to be separated by teammates. https://t.co/8DtCN9kLBV pic.twitter.com/D9V6GhDC8h
— Phillip Heilman (@phillip_heilman) August 12, 2018
UPDATE: Dante Fowler has been suspended for violating team rules as well for his part in the fight today. This, according to Mike Kaye of First Coast News.
The #Jaguars have suspended CB Jalen Ramsey and DE Dante Fowler for violating team rules.
— Mike Kaye (@mike_e_kaye) August 12, 2018
Jaguars Fall to Saints in First Preseason Game of the Year
Jacksonville Jaguars Game Recap
The Jacksonville Jaguars battled with the visiting New Orleans Saints for their first preseason game of the season, losing by a score of 24-20. While the starters played very little (or in some cases not at all), this was still a great test to see how all of the offseason’s hard work has paid off. The Jaguars opened the ball game with a 15-play, 79-yard drive capped off with a Blake Bortles 2-yard bootleg run for a touchdown. That would be the end of the Jaguars offensive starters and they did not need to show much more.
The opening drive for the Jaguars defense started with a long return by the Saints to the 40-yard line and a penalty by Jalen Ramsey to set the Saints up nicely in Jaguars territory. The Jaguars tightened up on defense allowing just a field goal. Not a bad start for one of the best defenses in the NFL last year, especially without veteran DE Calais Campbell out there.
After an opening couple of drives, the Jaguars backups entered the game. Cody Kessler picked up right where Blake Bortles left them. Kessler finished the game 14-17 for 137 yards and a touchdown. He led the Jaguars to three scoring drives, a great day for the backup quarterback. The Jaguars 2nd and 3rd team defense had a so-so day initially giving up only 1 touchdown from the Saints backups. A couple of bright spots on defense were Michael Bennett, defensive tackle, and rookie linebacker Leon Jacobs. As long as Bennett is healthy, he can easily be one of the better defensive tackles on the squad, so this preseason is important for the veteran. Jacobs performed far and away better than his backups tonight, and that could be the showing the rookie needed to keep his position as the starting SAM linebacker.
And then Tanner Lee came in. Tanner Lee is the Jaguars 6th round rookie out of Nebraska. Not highly touted, however, he was looking to impress after some warranted criticism of his play during training camp. Unfortunately for the rookie, he had a very poor outing completing only four out of eight passes for 37 yards and fumbling the ball to set up a short field and what ended up being a game-winning drive by the Saints 24-20. The Jaguars could not get anything at all going with Lee at QB.
Three plays of the game
- Blake Bortles’ pass to Dede Westbrook to set up a TD run. Bortles had two back to back great plays, one being a pass under pressure to Westbrook to get them within the 5-yard line. And on the very next play, a naked bootleg TD run to put the Jags ahead 7-0.
- Back to back sacks in the 3rd quarter by Tyler Patmon and Andrew Motuapuaka.
- Perhaps overlooked, but Josh Lambo continues to be Mr. Automatic here in Duval. He connected on not one but two 49-yard field goals early in the game, and was perfect on two extra points. He is a blessing the Jaguars desperately needed.
Player of the Game
The player of the game had to be backup Quarterback Cody Kessler. Kessler, who was acquired via trade from the Cleveland Browns prior to the draft, completed 14 of 17 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. The backup quarterback put together one of the best-looking performances from a backup quarterback that we have seen in a long time.
The Jaguars first preseason game went about as well as anyone could have liked. Not too many highs, but enough to put the Jaguars fans worries of regression at ease. And not too high to not expect, and still want more, especially from the backups. There will be an interesting position battle between not only the wide receiver position but also a few defensive positions. D.J. Chark, as well as the other Jaguars receivers, showed just why they got most of the night off as they looked excellent catching everything that came their way from starter Blake Bortles and backup quarterback Cody Kessler.
Nickel corner and the linebacker positions will be one to watch for. Another position battle to look for is the Jaguars punt return position. Rashad Greene had a negative play (muffed punt), and Jaydon Mickens had a fair catch.
Next week, the Jaguars take on the Minnesota Vikings on August 18th at 1 PM E.T.
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