Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter likes using multiple tight end sets, so the amount of gifted players Jacksonville has is ideal, however the team would like to see more consistency out of some players and hopes that someone emerges as an elite player at his position.
Going into OTAs and training camp, Marcedes Lewis will be the most watched tight end on the roster. The former first-round selection has the potential to be a Pro Bowl player but he hasn't put it together yet in his first two NFL seasons. Last year Lewis had 37 receptions and 391 receiving yards, but he expects to improve on that in 2008. Lewis is a big target with soft hands and at 6'6", 265 lbs, he has the ability to make a lot of acrobatic catches in the air. This summer, Lewis will need to improve on catching the ball consistently and running his routes a little more crisply. Lewis also emerged as a solid run blocker last year and will likely work on improving that aspect of his game as well.
Behind Lewis will likely be veteran George Wrighster, who is entering his sixth NFL season. Perhaps Wrighster isn't an ideal starting tight end because he lacks optimum size and has injury concerns, but he is very athletic and makes plays when needed. Wrighster has solid hands and could be an impact player, but injuries have slowed him down over the past several seasons. Wrighster could see extended playing time this season, or could be on the third-string, so he will need to show intensity during camp.
Fan favorite Greg Estandia is currently listed as the third-string tight end, but he could get more playing time than that his depth designation indicates, and might move up to the second slot if he has another good pre-season. At 6'8", 265 lbs, Estandia provides a big target and he has a solid burst as well. Estandia made some plays for the Jaguars last season, but he also had some crucial drops too, so he more than anyone needs to work on consistency. Estandia must also improve as a blocker in order to become a regular contributor in the NFL, but he has the ability to make in impact for the Jags this year after notching just nine receptions for 136 yards in 2007.
Behind Estandia is Isaac Smolko and Richard Angulo, who will both vie for a roster spot. Angulo had a few reps last season after injuries depleted Jacksonville's tight ends and he performed well, logging a touchdown and 81 receiving yards. Angulo was re-signed by Jacksonville because the team liked his combination of size (6'8", 263 lbs.), versatility, and hands. Smolko is a little smaller than Angulo and isn't as polished as a tight end but he provides just as much, if not more value than Angulo because of his special teams play. If either can show this summer that they improved their overall game, they have a chance to make the 53-man roster.
Undrafted rookies Adam Bishop and Chris Brown, as well as Charles Davis round out the group of tight ends currently on Jacksonville's roster. All will battle to make the team but Davis and Brown seemingly have a better chance than Bishop, although neither has a good shot. Davis was on Jacksonville's practice squad last season and the team likes his mean streak, which could earn him a spot as a special teams star. Brown is a versatile prospect and has impressive size and speed. At Tennessee, Brown participated in 50 games and could be an H-Back because of his athleticism. Bishop is a hard worker but he runs nearly a five second 40-yard dash and doesn't offer much other than toughness and solid football I.Q.
This summer will be huge for Jacksonville's tight ends as they need to hone their skills in order to get to the next level. The team is waiting for Lewis to emerge as a star, and while he is close, he needs to show a lot more consistency, as does Estandia. Wrighster, who has been a steady fixture for Jacksonville for the past half decade must also bring his "A" game to camp because he might not be 100% safe. With talented players such as Smolko and Angulo on the roster, training camp should be heated as every player will need to step his game up if he wants to make the roster come late August.
Quickly and quietly, Jacksonville's tight end unit has emerged as one of the most underrated, yet talented groups in the NFL. The Jaguars may not have any All-Pro caliber tight ends on their roster, but they do have a surplus of talented and versatile players who all offer something unique.
The Jaguars have a surplus of talented and versatile players who all offer something unique.