JagNation Training Camp Preview: TE
George Wrighster (Jake Roth/JagNation.com)
JagNation.com
Posted Jul 22, 2007


The Jaguars tight ends will be taking on a more prominent role during the 2007 season due in part to the hiring of former Arizona State University head coach, and now current Jaguars offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter. JagNation reviews the TE position for 2007 HERE:

Koetter emphasizes using a lot of two tight end sets in his passing game, and will make the tight ends more of a target for Byron Leftwich. The Jaguars have gone to a more athletic, better pass catching group of tight ends, led by last season's first round pick, Marcedes Lewis.


Marcedes Lewis
Marcedes Lewis' rookie season seemed to be hijacked from the very beginning. Lewis couldn't participate in all of the mini-camps due to his senior class at UCLA not graduating in time, which caused him to miss some valuable reps. Lewis was trying to get caught up to speed during training camp, when he suffered a high ankle sprain in the first preseason game at Miami. That injury caused Marcedes to miss a good portion of the first month of the season, and he never really caught up with the system that the Jaguars ran in '06. Lewis ended his rookie year with just 13 receptions for 126 yards, and one touchdown.

Strengths:
Marcedes Lewis was a play-maker in college, and earned the Mackey Award, given to the best collegiate tight end in 2005. Lewis has soft hands, runs good routes, and can get open in the seam. Lewis is also a more than adequate blocker, and he is a fantastic red zone threat standing 6'6 tall.

Weaknesses:
Since Marcedes missed most of last season's mini-camp, he doesn't have as much experience at the NFL level as the Jaguars would like. He hasn't experienced much success to this point, so his confidence may waver a bit.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
With a greater emphasis on the passing game in '07, Marcedes could break out and become the player that the Jaguars envisioned him to be when they made him a first round pick just 15 months ago. Worst case scenario is that Lewis gets injured again early in camp or early in the season and never gets accustomed to playing tight end at this level.


George Wrighster
In 2006, George Wrighster showed why the Jaguars drafted him in 2003. Wrighster found extra motivation by the selection of Marcedes Lewis in the first round, and made the most use of his extended playing time. Wrighster showed great athleticism and an ability to make plays in the passing game. Wrighster is also an underrated blocker and opened up holes for the running game.

Strengths:
George Wrighster is athletic, he normally has soft hands, and he's an above average blocker. Wrighster can be a legitimate weapon when healthy, and can find the end zone.

Weaknesses:
George Wrighster has a history of back problems and had surgery to correct a torn labrum in the off-season. Wrighster occasionally gets a case of the drops, due mostly to a lack of concentration.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
Wrighster can be the go-to-guy at the tight end position assuming he gets healed up, and he can build on the career year that he had in '06. The worst case scenario is that Wrighster isn't healthy entering the season, and falls to third on the depth chart at tight end.


Jermaine Wiggins

Wiggins doesn't have the physique of a typical football player, but has shown to be very productive when presented with pass-catching opportunities. Wiggins adds veteran leadership and played for current Jaguars assistant head coach/offense Mike Tice when the two of them were in Minnesota.

Strengths:
Wiggins has great hands and he's not afraid to make a catch in traffic.

Weaknesses:
Wiggins lacks some skills as a blocker and isn't a great red-zone threat being just 6'2 tall.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
Wiggins can be a great change of pace in the passing game, and can put up another 60+ catch season if he gets the opportunities. Worst case scenario is that Wiggins gets pushed down the depth chart by Lewis and Wrighster, and sees little gameday action.


Greg Estandia

Greg Estandia spent the '06 training camp with the Jaguars, and nearly made the team as a backup tight end and long-snapper. Estandia has good size, at 6'8 , 240 lbs., and has soft hands as well. He will have a legitimate shot of making the Jaguars roster if he continues to impress in camp.

Strengths:
Estandia is a red-zone target, and has the ability to long-snap. He offers a little more versatility than the standard fourth tight end on anyone's roster.

Weaknesses:
No real NFL game experience, who knows how well he'll snap if he actually wins the job, or how well he'll play at tight end.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
Estandia can make the team by being more athletic and versatile than current long-snapper Joe Zelenka, and can begin a nice career watching the game upside down. Estandia's worst case scenario is that the coaching staff feels that they need a veteran to long-snap, and Estandia gets out-played at tight end by one of the other undrafted free agents.


Richard Angulo

Richard Angulo is a 26 year old tight end from the University of New Mexico, that has bounced around the league for four years, three with Minnesota under Mike Tice, and one season with the Chicago Bears (2006). Angelo has played in eight career games, and has one reception for 11 yards in his career.

Strengths:
Special teams. Angulo is a special teams contributer, and if he's going to make the Jaguars roster, it will be with a special teams contribution, and possibly a past relationship with Mike Tice.

Weaknesses:
With one career reception in four seasons, Angulo can't be considered as much of a threat in the passing game.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
Angulo has made a few NFL rosters before, so he knows what it takes to get it done. Perhaps Angulo impresses the coaches in training camp and can make the final 53. Worst case scenario is that Angulo toils around in mediocrity during camp and Jaguars fans never hear his name again after August.


Isaac Smolko

Isaac Smolko is a former Penn State tight end that is a big guy, 6'5 , 257 lbs., with soft hands. Smolko was initially signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent last season, but was then released by the team last August.

Strengths:
If Smolko is to make the Jaguars roster, it will be with a strong special teams contribution.

Weaknesses:
No real NFL game experience, he's a virtual unknown.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
Smolko turns out to be another undrafted free agent gem, and he makes the final Jaguars roster or practice squad. Worst case scenario is that we never hear the word Smolko again.


Joe Zelenka

Joe Zelenka has become famous around Jacksonville, not only for his superior long-snapping skills, which very few of his snaps are even an inch off target, but for his sparkling personality. Zelenka appears on many local television shows involving the Jaguars, and has the ability to make anyone laugh. Zelenka is a great locker room guy, a great community guy, and fan favorite.

Strengths:
Zelenka is one of the best long-snappers in the NFL, and has been for eight seasons.

Weaknesses:
One trick pony. Zelenka is listed as a tight end as well as long-snapper, but he really can't play tight end.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
Zelenka's best case scenario is that he continues to be the Jaguars long-snapper, and never gets mentioned in any telecasts due to bad snaps. Zelenka's worst case scenario is that the front office goes younger and more athletic at the position, and he finds himself out of a job.


The Jaguars tight ends have a lot to prove in '07, especially in the area of blocking, now that veteran Kyle Brady has left for more northerly pastures. As a group, they are more athletic and have better hands than ever before, and this unit should give Byron Leftwich the passing outlet down the middle that he's needed ever since being drafted.



Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to various national news outlets. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association.



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