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2019 Senior Bowl: Offensive prospects to watch for the Jaguars

Zach Goodall

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Nov 4, 2017; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver David Sills V (13) and West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier (7) celebrate after beating the Iowa State Cyclones at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 Senior Bowl starts this week – an annual showcase for the best senior NFL Draft prospects in front of NFL scouts, coaches, front office staffs, and media.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have a strong history of drafting Senior Bowl talent under general manager Dave Caldwell, selecting prospects such as WR D.J. Chark, QB Tanner Lee, DE Dawuane Smoot, TE Ben Koyack, OL Brandon Linder, LB Telvin Smith, CB Aaron Colvin, RB Denard Robinson, CB Dwayne Gratz, and SS Johnathan Cyprien after scouting them in Mobile.

Considering the strength of this year’s Senior Bowl rosters, its hard to assume the Jaguars break that trend.

Let’s go position group by position group with players that Jaguars fans should keep their eyes on during the Senior Bowl and the week of practice, which starts on Tuesday, January 22nd, on NFL Network. Make sure to follow along with Locked On Jaguars during the Senior Bowl week as Chris Thornton and myself have received media credentials for the event.

(Hint: While Jaguars fans will inevitably have their eyes on the QBs, I’d be shocked if the team’s scouts aren’t eyeing an offensive lineman or two from this Senior Bowl. Read below to find out why.)

Quarterbacks

Will Grier, West Virginia, 6-2, 223 (South team)

The Jaguars are in need of a new franchise quarterback, after the Blake Bortles experiment faltered during the 2018 season. Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State, a redshirt sophomore, is arguably the best quarterback in this class, but Grier is in the argument for second best.

Grier has put up fantastic numbers during his time at West Virginia, after transferring from Florida a couple years back amidst a one year suspension from failing a performance-enhancing drugs test. Since transferring, Grier has recorded 7354 yards, 71 touchdowns and 20 interceptions with a 65.7 completion percentage in two seasons.

He’s much more scheme dependent than scheme universal in my not-so-expert opinion, but Grier has the potential to be an upper-level starter in the NFL if developed correctly. He will most likely be the highest-coveted QB of the group in Mobile, although Daniel Jones and Drew Lock will get a ton of attention as well. You can read my scotuing report (via Twitter thread) on Grier here.

Daniel Jones, Duke, 6-5, 220 (North)

An excellent West-Coast offense style of QB, Daniel Jones is a scheme-fit for the Jaguars and has a strong mental makeup in his game. He reads the field well, doesn’t make poor decisions and is accurate throwing the ball, can utilize his legs, and has a solid feel for pressure. You can read about his strengths and weaknesses here.

The biggest tests for the graduated redshirt-junior in Mobile will be to get more control of his vertical game, anticpate throwing lanes quickly against top competition, and most importantly test healthy – he played through his 2018 season with a broken collarbone. While that sure sounds gritty, teams may be frightened by the long-term effects of playing through that injury to his non-throwing shoulder.

However, considering his fit with the Jaguars and his connection to Eli Manning (hello, Tom Coughlin), Jones will be on the Jaguars radar.

Drew Lock, Missouri, 6-4, 225 (North)

Lock, who has started 46 straight games at Missouri, is one of the most experienced QBs in the Senior Bowl. However, after breaking down his film, he’s much more of a long-term project style of QB rather than an immediate starter at the NFL level.

The product of a spread-out system, Lock has flashy some statistics with 12193 career passing yards and 99 touchdowns, but a concerning 56.9% completion percentage and 39 interceptions. He has turnover and decision making issues that come with poor lower-body mechanics and relatively underdeveloped mental processing. However, he possesses incredible natural arm talent and mobility and is going to “wow” folks when throwing in shorts during practices.

Simply put: Lock isn’t the QB the Jaguars are, or at least should be, looking for. But he’s going to drop some dimes at the Senior Bowl that will have fans thinking otherwise.

Running backs

Karan Higdon, Michigan, 5-10, 202 (North)

A semifinalist for both the Doak Walker Award (best RB in college football) and Maxwell Award (best all-around) in 2018, Higdon heads into Mobile with little tread on his tires. The two-year starter and key backup in years prior has logged only 471 carries in 39 games – only 12 carries per game, and yet has recorded over 2600 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns. Despite little production in the passing game – 16 receptions for 177 yards in four seasons – he has flashed the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, Michigan just didn’t call passing plays his way often at all.

Higdon doesn’t have elite speed, but plays with power for his size, possesses solid vision along the offensive line to find rushing lanes, and has displayed great elusiveness and fair contact balance in order to provide a change-of-pace rushing style in a power offense.

Brad Kelly of The Draft Network wrote an excellent breakdown on Higdon that you can read here. The Michigan product will be a favorite of mine to replace T.J. Yeldon’s #2 RB role in the Jaguars offense.

Wes Hills, Slipper Rock, 6-2, 218 (South)

A small-school eligibility transfer who began his career at the University of Delaware put on a show at the NFLPA Collegeiate Bowl this past weekend, rushing for 78 yard and a touchdown on 10 carries. His mix of size, athleticism, and performance at the bowl game landed him a call-up to the Senior Bowl.

Dave Caldwell has a bit of a trend trend of drafting running backs with length, as Leonard Fournette (2017 first round pick) ranks in the 69th percentile in both height and arm length, and T.J. Yeldon (2015 second round pick) ranks 84th in height and 69th in arm length. Obviously, there’s more to scouting than measurables, but these attributes appear to be important to the Jaguars brass, and if Hills can continue to show out as a runner, as well as contribute as a pass-catcher and blocker, Hills could shoot up their draft board quickly. In his collegiate career, Hills rushed for 2755 yards on 346 carries (7.96 yards per carry) and 23 touchdowns, and added 17 receptions for 129 receiving yards as well.

Wide receivers

Keelan Doss, UC-Davis, 6-3, 206 (North)

Doss possesses excellent frame to be a contested catch and redzone target at the next level, and according to this Last Word on Sports draft profile on the FCS prospect, Doss has the body control and strong hands for teams to groom him into that type of role.

He may not be the sharpest route runner that the Jaguars look for in a possession-style role, but the team desperately needs a contested catch/boundary receiver that they’ve been missing since Allen Robinson left in free agency. Doss will face one of his biggest tests in his career against D-1 talent at the Senior Bowl, but if he can continue to win one-on-one matchups in Mobile, he could get his name included in what appears to be a very solid 2019 wide receiver class.

David Sills V, West Virginia, 6-4, 210 (South)

What may help Sills in his Senior Bowl outing is that he is paired with his college QB in Will Grier on the South team, but from my watching of his tape when scouting Grier, Sills is another big-bodied, contested catch receiver at the boundary with enough explosion to consistently win man-coverage matchups, and is solid jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none route runner.

The converted QB prospect has developed very well playing receiver at West Virginia, and if he can show out in the underneath and intermediate game in Mobile – I have no doubt he will win at the boundary and redzone – he will immediately put himself near the top of this WR class, and become a prospect the Jaguars should seriously consider drafting.

Deebo Samuel, South Carolina, 6-0, 210 (South)

Deebo Samuel isn’t like the receivers listed above, as he possesses only modest frame at 6-0, 210, and isn’t too explosive vertically to win contested matchups or provide a favorable one-on-one redzone matchup. But, he’s as polished a route runner as you can get and sizable enough to play both inside and out.

He’s had some injury issues in the past, including a fractured fubula that derailed his 2017 season as well as a previous hamstring injury, but he rebounded nicely in 2018 with career highs in receptions (62), yards (882) and touchdowns (11). Plus, he has flashed the ability to return kicks and punts as well as run the ball, scoring six rushing touchdowns on 12 attempts in 2016.

If the Jaguars want to add another true possession, quick receiver to pair with Dede Westbrook is Marqise Lee can’t return to full strength, Deebo Samuel is their guy at the Senior Bowl. Just, it’d be hard to envision them adding yet another possession receiver with a bigger need at X-receiver.

Tight ends

Tommy Sweeney, Boston College, 6-5, 260 (North)

A favorite tight end prospect of mine when it comes to scheme fit this year, Sweeney provides very technical blocking experience from BC’s power-blocking run scheme. That’s an automatic box-check for the Jaguars.

Despite average-at-best athleticism, Sweeney is a solid route runner in space and possesses great hands as a receiver. When scouting OL Chris Lindstrom (see later), Sweeney popped off separating well on a corner route and making a big-time adjustment to a throw at the front corner of the endzone and hauling it in for six points.

Sweeney doesn’t provide the athleticism or high ceiling as a route runner to put himself at the top of this class with the dynamic, dual-threat athletes at tight end, but he’s a prospect who fits the mold of tight end the Jaguars like in their offense as both a blocker and a sure-handed receiver who can win in the middle of the field and in the endzone.

Foster Moreau, LSU, 6-6, 256 (South)

As stated abvove, you know how the Jaguars love them some blocking tight ends… will they look to draft an LSU for the third year in a row (and second Senior Bowl!) in this one?

Moreau is a limited athlete who is mainly used in short field passing situations. However, his large frame is intriguing to develop as a redzone threat. In the passing game, that’s the bread-n-butter of a Jaguars tight end, and let’s not forget his blocking ability. TDN’s report states he was used in different spots in the LSU offense as a blocker, so it’s safe to assume Moreau could flex between tight end and full back as a lead blocker in Jacksonville.

Offensive line

Chris Lindstrom, Boston College, 6-4, 310 (North)

A true power-scheme, mauling right guard who’s strength is down (run) blocking… there’s simply no way that Chris Lindstrom isn’t on the Jaguars draft board.

After the Senior Bowl, Lindstrom will have a scouting report published on Locked On Jaguars, but after two full games of watching Lindstrom’s film, I can confidently say Lindstrom should be the Jaguars second round pick so long as he’s still on the board. He has fluid, chopping feet that he utilizes to drive defenders in the run game, to pair with fair athleticism to mirror rushers in pass blocking.

Durability is going to be extremely important to the Jaguars when scouting offensive linemen after a 2018 season that saw two 4th stringers starting at the tackle positions by Week 17. So, here’s a stat: Lindstrom started 51 straight games along the Boston College offensive line dating back to his freshman season, mainly at right guard but also a little bit at right tackle.

Dalton Risner, Kansas State, 6-5, 308 (North)

Risner, who has started three straight seasons for Kansas State on the right side, offers versatility as a right tackle or right guard, while he has more experience with the former his length could move him inside.

I’ve watched only a modest amount of his film, and while I loved the power in his game it’s best to defer to the opinion of my friend Jon Ledyard of TDN, who did a full report on Risner recently. Ledyard notes Risner has elite mental processing and is a true mauler in the run game, with great mirroring inside as a pass protector but some footwork issues to clean up in one-on-one’s vs. speed rushers. However, his drive blocking and power to win matchups are “top notch”, and that type of ability is what Jacksonville could utilize in a replacement for either A.J. Cann at right guard should Risner move inside, or as the heir to Jermey Parnell at right tackle. Ledyard considers Risner to be a “top-60 lock” for the NFL Draft.

Michael Deiter, Wisconsin, 6-6, 310 (North)

More athletic rather than powerful makes Deiter a bit scheme-universal, but would likely fit better in a zone-blocking offense. However, his versatility is fantastic: He’s started and played well at left tackle (14), left guard (24), and center (16) during his 54 straight starts at Wisconsin.

The Jaguars could utilize such versatility for depth purposes alone, once again noting how injuries destroyed the team’s OL in 2018. But Deiter has great frame who has shown he can adapt to different positions along the OL relatively easily. If Jacksonville wants more athleticism at right guard and/or tackle, Deiter could be a sleeper pick for the squad.

Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin, 6-6, 315 (North)

Yet another North team offensive line prospect (as well as another from Wisconsin) to keep an eye on, and Chris Thornton’s personal favorite, Benzschawel is a true power-scheme right guard who isn’t overly flexible or athletic but plays with immense power.

He has room to grow in pass protection, much due to his lack of dynamic athletic ability, but he is worthy of consideration as a project-player who could spot start at guard and develop into a starter over time. He’d be a consolation prize if the Jaguars cannot land one of the three linemen listed above.

Dru Samia, Oklahoma, 6-5, 303 (South)

Hey, a South team offensive lineman!

While the South team has some decent OL prospects, they don’t compare to the North squad and not too many seem to fit what Jacksonville tends to look for in their offensive linemen. Samia is a bit underweight compared to their standard – he was listed at 297 lbs to start the 2018 season – but he too is a nasty blocker and has great technique when pass blocking. He mirrors extremely well and rarely will you see him lose one-on-one’s – even vs. power, which is surprising when you consider his weight. That’s pure strength combined with technique.

His weight will scare some teams away when you factor in his competition in the Big 12 for his down (run) blocking, and scouts will undoubtedly watch him specifically on run calls during scrimmages in Mobile. If he stands out there, he should be the South team OL-man the Jaguars keep an eye on.

Zach Goodall covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for the Locked On Jaguars podcast and website. Follow him on Twitter @zach_goodall.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

REPORT: Jaguars re-sign tight end James O’Shaughnessy

Demetrius Harvey

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Nov 11, 2018; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars tight end James O'Shaughnessy (80) runs past Indianapolis Colts linebacker Anthony Walker (50) in the second half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

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2019 Jaguars NFL Draft Profile: Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson

Zach Goodall

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Oct 13, 2018; Bloomington, IN, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes tight end T.J. Hockenson (38) catches a pass in the end zone for a touchdown against Indiana Hoosiers linebacker Dameon Willis Jr. (43) during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium . Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

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.

FILM ROOM

Blocking prowess

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.

Receiving ability

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?

Wrong.

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.

Conclusion

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.

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REPORT: Jaguars officially sign former Packers LB Jake Ryan

Demetrius Harvey

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Sep 10, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers linebacker Jake Ryan (47) steps over Seattle Seahawks running back Eddie Lacy (27) following a tackle during the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

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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