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.
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