In the wake of Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles’ poor start to the 2018 season, it’s time to acknowledge his three-year contract extension this past February was a mistake, and the Jaguars must begin to look for his eventual replacement as the team’s signal caller.
That’s right, baby. It’s time for NFL Draft scouting reports. And today, we’re starting with Duke quarterback Daniel Jones.
Now, before we get started, let’s assume the Jaguars make no staff changes this offseason, even after what appears to be a massive disappointment of a 2018 season following contending in the 2017 AFC Championship. It isn’t possible, or fair, to predict any big staff changes at this point after GM Dave Caldwell, EVP of Football Ops. Tom Coughlin, and head coach Doug Marrone received extensions in February. While that sounds contracting to the lede of this article, it’s safe to assume that the Jaguars won’t necessarily move on from Bortles this offseason, and rather will likely draft his eventual heir and/or competition this upcoming April.
Given that assumption, one would think the Jaguars will continue to feature a power-run with RB Leonard Fournette as the focal point, and that offensive coordinator will maintain West Coast passing concepts as a way to move the ball through the air: A round hole that the team has tried to shove Bortles – the square peg – into for the past two years.
Jones, a redshirt junior who appears to be on track to graduate this year, is the best West Coast style of quarterback in this upcoming QB class, albeit it isn’t the strongest QB class to come out in recent years. The terms you’ll see thrown around Jones’ name this draft season will include “quick-release”, “smart decision making”, “touch passes”, and something along the lines of “lack of elite velocity”. All of these buzzwords match what the traditional West Coast offense looks for in a QB, with velocity not being a must-have trait.
On top of the WCO fit, Jones is on pace to match most of the Bill Parcells rules of QB scouting, a method in which Coughlin stated he utilizes in his book Earn the Right to Win. These rules include:
- Be a senior (redshirt junior is likely a fair bending of the rules)
- Be a graduate (Jones appears to be on pace to do so)
- Three-year starter (check)
- Start 30 games (32 and counting, check)
- Win 23 games (Jones has 15 career wins in games he’s started, and missed two wins this year with a broken collarbone. Duke has three more games left, plus a bowl game, so even if Duke wins out he will come short of 23 wins)
- Post a 2:1 TD:INT ratio (Jones currently posts a 1.72:1 ratio, but has a 2.6:1 ratio this season and is on pace to post a career high in TDs and low in INTs with four games remaining, so we can revisit this)
- Post a 60%+ career completion percentage (currently at 60.1%, another stat to revisit in January)
All in all, Jones will leave Duke with at least four of the seven Parcells QB scouting rules checked off, with five being likely and six being the maximum.
In seven of Duke’s nine games this year, Jones has completed 135-218 passes (61.9%) for 1587 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. He is a two-time team captain (2017-18) and two-time Academic All-ACC (2016-17). Entering the 2018 season, he was listed as a candidate for the Maxwell, O’Brien, and Manning awards. Jones only missed two games this year due to a broken collarbone in his non-throwing shoulder, and that tough mantra is evident when he takes hits as a runner on tape.
Jones’ head coach David Cutcliffe is the former college coach of three former first round quarterbacks in Peyton and Eli Manning, as well as Heath Shuler. The Manning brothers have been key to Jones’ development as they have trained with him and the Duke football team since 2013, and Jones has attended their summer QB camp for the past two years.
Let’s get to the film (2018 games vs. Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech) to see what Jones has to offer as a quarterback prospect.
NFL Traits: Pre-snap awareness and post-snap baiting
Daniel Jones may often be labeled with the previously mentioned buzzwords, but the most important, and advanced, part of Jones’ skill-set are his eyes, in how they pick up openings in the defense pre-snap, and also create openings post-snap.
The most immediate thing that stands out in the Northwestern game, the first game of Jones’ that I watched, is how many RPO’s and play action and Duke runs. That should automatically catch the Jaguars’ eye, as play action/RPO’s are a big piece to a West Coast passing offense in order to stretch the field and catch defenses off guard.
Note: Bear with the bad drawing here, it gets better as we go on. I had just downloaded new video editing software and was learning how to draw with it.
Pre-snap, Jones sees two creeping defenders turning this into a six-man blitz, and knows that the middle of the field is going to open up as long as he sells the run. He does so, forcing the weak-side linebacker to creep up as well. That was a fatal mistake by the LB that Jones took advantage of with the slant route opening up, and Jones let the ball fly on the top of his one step drop in unison with the top of the receivers route. This opens up a ton of extra yards to gain after the catch, which is the bread and butter of the WCO.
Jones’ awareness and ability to read defenses pre-snap is one of his more polished abilities as a signal-caller, which is something more worth deeming as “pro-style” than the bland under-center = pro-style narrative that’s been around for ages.
In the play before, Jones baited the coverage linebacker into opening the field. Here, Jones does the same with the single-high safety to open up the deep post. Keeping his eyes modest on the left half of the field, Jones is patient before he declares where he’s going and draws the high safety to the 12 yard dig route by the tight end, and boom: The outside receiver has all of the inside leverage to get open on the deep post. While Jones doesn’t have a cannon arm to get this ball to the WR as fast as Patrick Mahomes can, his timing and touch on the ball makes up for the lack of arm strength, and this ball gets placed perfectly for the long score.
We get a taste of both pre-snap awareness and baiting in one play here, and it’s so nice you can view it twice (there’s a second angle). The defense lines up with what almost looks like a three-safety prevent-look with two corners playing man underneath. However, the middle safety drops pre-snap and this turns into what appears to be a split-field Cover 2 on the top and man/off-man responsible for the TE and WR on the bottom. All in all, it’s a complex, unique coverage call.
Jones catches the top half Cover 2 with two 8+ yard off-safeties. He already knows his left slot will be wide open on a deep slant, and yards-after-catch potential if he baits the deep safety and middle linebacker through the fake handoff. In the second half of the clip, Jones does just that by keeping his eyes in between the two mid-field defenders, despite knowing he’s going left. Both defenders false step, and the slant is open for business.
This is one of the more impressive bait throws Jones made in the four games I watched. With pressure coming off both edges, Jones keeps his eyes down field at the slot WR on the seam that draws the safety and cornerback deep. As Jones steps up to avoid pressure, the flat-defending linebacker fills the intermediate zone for the cornerback and turns his back to the sidelines to read Jones’ eyes, which are still focused on the seam but notice the outside receiver coming back on a steep hitch, totally unnoticed by the linebacker. Jones’ deception of the coverage defenders looked easy and lead to a big third down conversion.
The last bait-play I want to touch on is Jones keeping his eyes directly in the middle of the field to draw the free safety into the tight end post, with the H-back running a wheel route outside of the free safety’s peripheral vision. The outside linebacker disguises as a fifth rusher but is actually in man on the H-back, but misses a chance to jam near the line of scrimmage. The wheel opens up as soon as the FS commits to the post and Jones wastes no time to release a nice touch pass, resulting in a 27 yard gain.
Before we get into the West Coast and primary reads, it’s worth noting Jones is developed enough to make full-field progessions and isn’t going limited to primary reads and checkdowns. Jones quickly scans his options from top through the right hash and identifies the opening skinny post as the receiver makes his break and, after putting the safety on skates, can walk the perfectly placed deep ball in for six.
Jones has five potential receving options here, and even with pressure beginning to form in the pocket, Jones scans and eliminates the two top receivers as they are well-covered, and begins to roll with a TE check-down on an out-route. The right slot receiver takes the outside cornerback with him deep, and with Jones eyeing the TE out-route, the outside receiver becomes open on the sideline as the fourth read with the slot stretching out the defense to open up the underneath. Jones gave every route worth consideration a shot before making the smartest decision with the ball while also baiting the safety into coming down on the TE to open up the sideline.
Jones once again scans the entire spread field in a timely manner before throwing a touch pass over a jumping defender near the first down marker. The throw is really nice; The patience and movement in the pocket in order to move the ball without abandoning the play and running is perfect.
West Coast fit
Here’s where Jones really starts to look the part for Jacksonville, as things stand.
The most important aspect to a West Coast QB’s game is his release. Blake Bortles doesn’t fit this mold because he has a naturally elongated release that often leads to passes getting batted at the line or defenders jumping routes. On top of that, Bortles often needs his primary read to be schemed open and a check-down option because his mental processing of the field isn’t quick enough to match what the WCO wants. Bill Walsh, former 49ers coach and the mastermind behind the WCO, believes an ideal WCO passing play ends with a release at the top of the QB’s 3-5-7 step drop in the pocket, and Bortles just can’t do that consistently whatsoever.
However, Daniel Jones can. Jones plays out of the shotgun a solid 95%+ of the time at Duke which in itself is at least a three-step drop, so immediate/one-step releases count towards being WCO-style.
Is this complex? No. It’s a simple play-action play with and eight yard slant as the primary read on a three-step (one-step gun) drop throwing with power off of the back foot. However, this ball is out as soon as Jones gets pointed the receivers way off of the fake handoff fresh out of the WRs route-break. This quick release taking advantage of the primary read’s spacing is another example of bread and butter West Coast concepts that Jacksonville builds it’s passing game off of.
Another really simple, yet effective, WCO style throw, taking advantage of zone with about an eight yard cushion to the bottom WR. At the top of the route, the WR has about four yards of separation and the ball is already off the tip of Jones’ fingers. Not to mention, this ball is placed in a perfect spot for the WR to spin his body back downfield and gain extra yards. Just, the WR doesn’t appear to have the explosiveness to take advantage. If Dede Westbrook catches this pass, he very well may take this the full 80 yards to the endzone.
The WCO calls for window passes in the short field when things aren’t schemed open, and Jones squeezes this ball right in between the nickel cornerback and the closing linebacker off the top of the receivers route.
Along with timing your throws, accuracy is the most important aspect of West Coast passing. If the ball isn’t put in the most ideal position for the receiver to win the rep, it most likely isn’t accurate enough. Here, Jones rolls to his weak-side and throws this ball off of his back foot – yet, the ball is low and away where only the receiver can play the ball and Duke adds six to the scoreboard.
Jones perfectly squeezes this slot fade to the back corner better than, quite frankly, Blake Bortles has ever thrown a fade pass in his five-year Jaguars career. Way out of reach of the man coverage nickel cornerback, Jones also keeps this ball nice and outside of the boundary cornerback who tries to save the play post-release.
The sideline route opens up after Jones scans half of the field, and Jones clears the two underneath defenders with plenty of altitude and gets this ball in the receivers hands while he still owns about five yards of separation, despite this toss only going about 23 yards. The ability to get the ball as high as it was to avoid any acrobatic play by the underneath defenders and still hit the WR with plenty of separation is the definition of touch.
Jones has been the victim of plenty of drops in the games I’ve observed, with three TDs/near TDs dropped in the Virginia Tech game alone. This one may have been the worst: Jones steps up through interior pressure and launches this ball 45 yards where only the receiver make a diving catch, and it falls right through his hands. This wasn’t a difficult diving catch to make, either. The ball had plenty of loft that gave the receiver time to track and was perfectly led with two defenders closing in.
On the run
There’s no need to post a bunch of different clips of Jones running the ball because he’s obviously tasked with being a passer, but when things breakdown as well as designed options, Jones has the mobility to break loose once in a while. This is also evident on his roll-out passes, a key to play action in a West Coast offense.
General Pros and Cons
- Clean footwork through drop and scanning
- Short to intermediate accuracy is strong
- Touch throws make up for lack of strong velocity
- Not fast, but mobile. Can make plays on his feet and throw on roll-outs
- Advanced in reading defenses pre-snap
- Generally makes smart decisions post-snap
- Uses eyes to bait defenders at a pro level
- Tough as nails, played two weeks after breaking left collarbone
- Occasionally throws off back foot when going deep, leads to too much air under pass
- Arm strength isn’t there to run a consistent vertical offense
- Fumble issues: Nine in three years
- Thin frame may frighten teams, played through injury redshirt sophomore year
- Lack of explosion lowers “ceiling” and ability to grow at NFL level
- May be limited to West Coast offense with short game as strong suit
- Doesn’t slide when running the ball, often takes hits he doesn’t need to
Daniel Jones seems to be a true West Coast, pro-ready QB who makes disciplined reads and has advanced eyes that can bait opposing defenses into giving him a chunk play. His footwork could use some polishing through his release, but he is relatively accurate, espeically in the short and intermediate field and has the mobility to make plays of his own in a power-run/WCO style of offense, making him a perfect fit for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
I view Jones as a late first round/early second round prospect, but considering how light this QB class is at the top, Jones may skyrocket into the early 20s and maybe even the teens come draft night. As of 11/6/2018, the Jaguars are currently projected to pick 12th overall, so they may have to reach to select Jones if they stay around the same spot, but if they believe he fits what they want in a quarterback the way his film suggests, they should have no problem selecting Jones as the heir to Blake Bortles.
REPORT: Jaguars re-sign tight end James O’Shaughnessy
The Jaguars have re-signed tight end James O’Shaughnessy according to a report released by the team. O’Shaughnessy now re-joins a group that includes newly signed tight end Geoff Swaim, Ben Koyack, and Pharoah McKever.
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) March 21, 2019
This is great news for the Jaguars tight end group. O’Shaughnessy was a reliable receiving threat for the Jaguars last season, although he was horribly underutilized.
This adds some continuity into the room with Ben Koyack as the only Jaguars tight end with in-game experience with the team. O’Shaughnessy accounted for 24 receptions for 214 yards last season. O’Shaughnessy’s only other reported interest in free agency has been with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Look for the Jaguars to continue to upgrade the tight end position during the draft later this offseason.
2019 Jaguars NFL Draft Profile: Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson
After months of quarterback scouting that have all become relatively moot, it’s time to start going in-depth at other positions of need for the Jacksonville Jaguars here at Locked On Jaguars.
With quarterback Nick Foles in the fold after signing a four year, $88 million deal with the Jaguars last week, it’s safe to assume quarterback is just about out of the picture for the team’s seventh overall selection in next month’s NFL Draft. Sure, the Jaguars could elect to draft a QB to backup Foles and eventually utilize the two-year “out” to usher in his heir, but that seems highly unlikely at this point. Jacksonville paid Foles to be their franchise quarterback, and they must build around him immediately to get things back on track.
In which case, the Jaguars need to add weapons on offense. During his time in Philadelphia over the past two years, Foles has targeted tight ends on 33% of his 296 passing attempts. It helps that the Eagles had multiple talented TEs on their roster during that time in Zach Ertz, Trey Burton, Brent Celek, and Dallas Goedert, but the Jaguars must attempt to replicate the tight end production Foles had that helped him find so much success.
T.J. Hockenson from the University of Iowa can immediately provide a spark at the tight end position and replicate that formula.
The redshirt sophomore burst onto the scene during the 2018 season, hauling in 49 receptions for 760 yards and six touchdowns in Iowa’s 52.9%-to-47.1% run-to-pass offense. Iowa ran a ton of multiple tight end sets, mainly 12-personnel (1 RB/2 TE), in order to add bodies to the tackle box for the run game and best utilize both Hockenson and fellow Hawkeyes tight end Noah Fant – who, like Hockenson, is a projected first round pick. The two tight ends combined for 88 receptions, 1279 yards, and 13 touchdowns in 2018.
The differences between Hockenson and Fant, which were drawn out well by my friend Ryan Keiran of PatsPulpit.com, are their playstyles at the same general position. Fant is going to be a dynamic receiving tight end on a bit of an NFL learning curve as he is far from a polished blocker, who is best utilized as the new “big-slot” TE that the NFL is beginning to transition towards.
I’ll do a full film review on Fant at another time here at Locked On Jaguars, but my early take is he’s an Evan Engram-style of tight end who would benefit from a pass-happy, vertical offense. Not all of these teams need a tight end, but the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be great fits for Fant who could move him around and play him vertically.
Hockenson is much more universal in terms of scheme fit. He’s athletic enough to play vertically, like Fant, fluid and explosive enough to win in the underneath game, and is the best run-blocking tight end prospect I’ve ever evaluated. And that last nugget is something that will undoubtedly catch the eye of the power-run heavy Jacksonville Jaguars.
Let’s get to the film. Be prepared – there’s really no negative aspects to his game.
I typically don’t clip up a lot of run blocking plays for film reviews, because you can usually get a good feel for a player’s ability in that aspect from a couple of early-down reps.
But good lord, T.J. Hockenson makes run blocking a sport of it’s own – and he’s a first-team All Pro in it.
Hockenson’s pure strength and explosion into his block is enough to “wow” you from an entertainment perspective, but his technique makes the difference between a “good” block, and the “great” block that leads to him driving the defensive end 10 yards backwards and into the turf. His fluid explosion through contact out of his three point stance creates instant pad-level leverage by getting the DE vertical. Hockenson maintains the lower pad-level and his strong hands stick in the chest frame despite the defender attempting to wiggle himself free like a fish in a fishnet.
You’ll never, ever see Hockenson quit on a block until the whistle is blown. His rep is won by the time the standing EDGE defender crosses the numbers at the top of the field, but Hockenson drives him out of bounds and into the sideline area a yard behind the line of scrimmage. When Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin stated “I suggest we adopt the term ‘grit’ as a way to define ourselves,” at the Jaguars’ State of the Franchise press conference in 2017, plays like this are what he was referring to.
Hockenson plays with grit on every snap.
Hockenson is more than just an in-line blocker. He’s equally as dominant as a space blocker, which will reap benefits for a team that will use him in pass protection vs. loaded boxes and blitz. Diagnose this look as Cover 2-man underneath with the MIKE linebacker responsible for Hockenson (hovering over the left tackle behind the DE). The MIKE reads pass from the QB – the play was a QB draw – and gets his eyes up to Hockenson quickly, but even with eyes on the tight end, the MIKE was unable to stand his ground from the bulldozer of a blocking tight end and eats dirt. It’s the same thing over and over again, whether it’s in-line or out in space – Hockenson wins with a fantastic combination of athleticism and technique which cements his high floor as a blocker at the NFL level.
Hockenson’s technique becomes important when taking on rush and disengaging moves from opposing rushers and defenders. Hockenson wins with initial leverage and hand placement, but the defender gets an arm free to attempt top rip out Hockenson’s arms. But with the lower pad level, Hockenson can get his disengaged arm back up-and-under through the rip and back into the defenders chest, and turn him 180 degrees away from the play.
The next six clips will be the last of Hockenson’s blocking breakdown before moving to his receiving ability, all displaying his ability to seal-block on designed runs and backfield throws to completely open up the field. This obviously requires the previously stated technique and strength through blocks, but the processing speed to diagnose his responsibilities and time his blocks, as a lead-block from H-back/fullback, in-line, and out in space. He can do it all.
Simply put: Enjoy.
You’ve probably had a lot of fun watching T.J. Hockenson, the blocker, so far… (or maybe not, and maybe I’m just a football nerd).
But I promise you, that’s not all the Iowa product has to offer. The Jaguars prioritize the ability to run block in their tight ends, but in today’s NFL, tight ends need to contribute significantly as receiving threats in order to be considered dynamic.
Hockenson hasn’t mastered all nine routes of the route tree, but he’s proven he can win multiple routes in all three levels of the playing field. His athletic testing results (see below) also offer promise that Hockenson can develop on just about any route there is, too. It’s not that Hockenson struggled with certain routes – he just wasn’t asked to run them in Iowa’s run-heavy offense.
His high-pointing ability wasn’t often utilized at Iowa given their run-heavy philosophy, but the talent, size, and technique is there for Hockenson to be the redzone threat the Jaguars have desperately been searching for.
Hockenson squeezes through a tight, two-defender gap on an outside release with explosion off the line in order to breeze by the coverage LB and separate despite little field room in the redzone. The QB lofts a ball to the back of the endzone, and Hockenson’s mix of technique and athleticim finishes the rep. He identifies the ball and times his full-body extension at the top of his vertical jump in order to get both hands on this ball and bring it down in bounds without ever letting the closing defender have a chance to make a recovery play.
In order to win in contested areas such as the redzone, fighting through contact and adjusting to throws is as important as anything. Being nearly 6-5 with a 90th percentile vertical jump (see his athletic profile later in the report) is obviously a benefit in this category, but Hockenson has the natural ability to fight for and win contested throws across the field.
Hockenson releases inside to draw the linebacker off of the seam that he intends to get vertical before breaking into a post on a deep mesh concept to keep the safety modest. This is a well-run, pro-style yet schemed-open route that Hockenson can win on at the next level, but the play turns into a YOLO-pass. The QB scrambles left with pressure closing in, and lets this ball rip back towards the middle of the field where Hockenson is playing the scramble drill back towards the left side of the field. He tracks this underthrown ball while navigating back to the side he came from, fights through contact and comes down with a huge gain on what was on pace to become a 4th-and-long punt.
If the Jaguars intend on running the similar, if not the same, passing concepts with Foles in the fold, then plays like this are important in Hockenson’s evaluation – winning in the short-to-intermediate levels of the passing field. Otherwise known as the routes that make a West Coast offense operate.
Hockenson possesses the explosion off the line and agility to maintain speed through his turns in the route to operate in a timing-based passing offense which can be seen in the fluidity of his release from the slot anf through the deep crossing route – a staple of Jacksonville’s offense over the past two years. And with clean footowork, Hockenson cleanly separates with hip fluidity and no wasted movement as soon as the defender begins to pedal vertically again. So long as the QB leads this ball (after years of watching a QB fail to do so, it’ll be a sigh of relief to see that from Foles), this is a yards-after-catch route that Hockenson would wreak havoc with in the Jaguars’ WCO-offense.
Did someone mention yards after the catch?
Hockenson does a great job at keeping his feet underneath him through vertical route breaks, with no wasted movement whatsoever in order to maintain a comfy cushion from the coverage defender. And once again, this is a timing route based off of play action with a relatively immediate release at the top of the route.
And your arm tackles will do nothing to slow down the Hock. He’s a yards after catch and yards through contact machine.
This rep was just disrespectful, and provides another feel for how Hockenson can transcend the offense beyond WCO concepts and integrate some vertical philosophies.
Hockenson lines up in-line in 23 personnel (2 RB/3 TE) – this looks like it’ll be a run play or short-field pass off play-action to get an easy 3rd and 1 conversion, right?
The outside TEs in Hockenson (to the weak side of the formation) and Fant (strong-side – safety help follows) run a Yankee concept that acts like a deep mesh pattern between the most outside players in the formation, getting vertical up the seam and crossing. With the one-on-one matchup and a rub to benefit from, Hockenson gets wide open and the safety tries to recover as the top of the defense is exposed at the rub.
What makes this rep so disrespectful? Watch the second half of the clip. Hockenson wins route-running leverage vs. his man coverage defender by running an inside release. With so many defenders in the box that make an inside release difficult to manuever, Hockenson literally pulls a swim move on the play-action-biting stack linebacker (#14) and breezes to the middle of the field, easily separating from the man-cover #25.
To begin this crucial 4th and 8 rep, with under a minute left in the game tied 28-28, it’s obviously clutch of Hockenson to make a backside sliding catch to get both across the line-to-gain and into field goal range. That’s just a given.
But his explosion off the line of scrimmage is real. Sure, he plays the line at the snap compared to the top outside WR, but to be three yards removed vertically post-snap before the shorter-build, assumptively quicker and nimbler even crosses the line is impressive for any tight end. And Hockenson matches his LOS burst with a fluid hip-turn at the top of this curl to ensure separation from a breaking safety on the most important play of the game up until this point. The QB getting the ball out late eliminates some of that separation, but Hockenson held up to his end of the deal with ease.
Athletic profile (via MockDraftable.com)
Hockenson offers typical height for the tight end position, but based on his NFL Combine testing, he comes in slightly underweight and with below-average length compared to the average NFL TE.
As mentioned while describing his redzone touchdown catch above, however, Hockenson has legitimate athleticism to cover for his lack of elite size at the position. His vertical (37 1/2″) and broad (123″) rank in the 90th and 91st percentiles among NFL TEs in MockDraftable’s database that has collected testing numbers dating back to the 1999 NFL Draft class.
His top speed comes in above average as well, as he recorded a 4.7s 40 yard dash (68th percentile). This is a huge benefit for any team looking to add some vertical field stretching via Hockenson, and if Jacksonville wants to catch teams off guard beyond their traditional WCO passing concepts, Hockensons’s skillset + measurables give them that flexibility.
Last but not least, Hockenson’s 77th percentile, 7.02s 3 cone drill is a cherry on top. A widely praised drill for testing a players ability to change direction, the Jaguars brass is likely salivating at this number. As mentioned previously, Jacksonville’s WCO concepts require short-field route running and the ability to create YAC in a timing-based play. These factors require twitch and quickness from a change-of-direction standpoint. Hockenson’s 3-cone drill proves one thing: He’s anything but stiff, and at bare minimum he can fit the Jaguars current mold as a receiving TE.
What’s nice is that’s just his floor, and his ceiling can provide so, so much more.
Listen, I understand that selecting a tight end in the top 10 is pretty uncommon, but it isn’t unheard of. Eric Ebron (10th overall, 2014), Vernon Davis (6th overall, 2006), Kellen Winslow Jr. (6th overall, 2004) are the most recent to be selected that high.
Winslow Jr. suffered two early setbacks with a broken leg two games into his rookie season and a torn ACL knocking him out of his second season, but currently ranks 31st all-time in receiving yards among TEs. Assuming he met his career average 650 yards per season in those nearly two fully missed seasons, Winslow would rank 13th all-time in the same category. He was worth the selection in hindsight.
Davis, who is still active today and plays for the Washington Redskins (he played his first 9 1/2 seasons with the San Francisco) currently ranks 9th in all time receiving yards among TEs with 7439. He was worth the selection in hindsight.
Ebron… is a bit of a different story. He’s entering his sixth season in the NFL and looked like a bust with the Detroit Lions, recording 186 catches for 2070 yards and 11 touchdowns in four years there. However, Ebron signed with the Indianapolis Colts this past season, and tore his bust label to shreds. He more than doubled his career touchdowns with 13 alone in 2018, along with 66 receptions for 750 yards – both career highs. The jury is not out on whether or not Ebron’s ability and skillset were worth his selection.
Forget what I said in the introduction about run-blocking: T.J. Hockenson is the best tight end prospect I’ve ever evaluated, period. He’s also the safest offensive player in this draft, and considering the traditional NFL learning curve at the tight end, it’s really rare to ever hear that label being thrown around at the position.
His combination of poise as a blocker in all facets as well as extremely high floor in the pass game for an offense stylized like Jacksonville’s absolutely makes him worth their 7th overall pick, and the Jaguars’ dire need of a tight end right now only further solidifies that.
Quarterback Nick Foles will need as many weapons as he can get here in Jacksonville to get this Jaguars team steered straight. Considering his success in Philadelphia with tight ends, it’s incredibly difficult to assume T.J. Hockenson wouldn’t be one of Foles’ most trusted receiving targets, and as a whole Jacksonville’s most important non-QB offensive player given his immense skill-set as a contributor to the run and the pass game.
REPORT: Jaguars officially sign former Packers LB Jake Ryan
The Jaguars have officially signed former Packers ILB Jake Ryan. While it was reported on Saturday, the Jaguars would be signing the linebacker, there was still a physical pending. Ryan tore his ACL prior to the 2019 season and is still in the middle of his rehab. Today, the Jaguars made it official.
Officially signed ✒️
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) March 19, 2019
Ryan was signed to a 2-year $8M contract with an option during the 2020 season according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. The contract is similar to the contract Austin Seferian-Jenkins deal from last season which essentially boils down to a 1-year prove-it deal.
Jake Ryan (Jaguars), $8M, $1M gtd, $500K signing bonus, salaries $1M ($500K gtd), $5.5M; $31,250 per game active annual, 2020 is option to be exercised prior to 22nd day before 2020 lg yr, if exercised $1M of salary gtd, $1.75M annual playtime incentive
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 19, 2019
Ryan adds another proven veteran linebacker to a group which lacks experience. Before the signing, the Jaguars linebackers on the team were Myles Jack, Telvin Smith, Donald Payne, Blair Brown, Donald Payne, Leon Jacobs, and Nick Deluca. None of them have had much if any experience at the MLB position.
Ryan started 27 games in three seasons with the Packers prior to his injury. He has totaled 213 combined tackles in his career. That is plenty of experience added to the Jaguars linebacker group ahead of the 2019 season. It would not surprise me to see the Jaguars continue to add to the position via the NFL Draft.
It is also worth noting Telvin Smith’s contract cap number reaches its highest point next year ($12.8M). It is possible — if Ryan performs well — for the Jaguars to move on from Smith and move Myles Jack back to his more natural position. Myles Jack will be entering the final year of his rookie contract this season.
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