Before any team starts a season, there are always a handful of questions to answer. How will the…
Point / Counterpoint: Marcedes Lewis
Throwing around the words Pro Bowl and Jacksonville is always a little sketchy because the Jaguars never seem to get their fair props from the national media and thus, fans. So the term "Pro Bowl level" is somewhat subjective when talking about Jacksonville players, but I have a gut feeling that Lewis can raise his game to a level where the talking heads will have to throw him into the conversation.
At 25-years-old, Lewis will enter his fourth year in the league. In the previous three seasons, Lewis has improved his stat line significantly every year, finishing with a career high 489 yards and two touchdowns in 2008. I have to believe that this upcoming season, Lewis will continue that trend.
You have to give the UCLA product a lot of credit. He had an injury-plagued rookie campaign and was regarded as somewhat of a finesse tight end in college. However, he has made huge strides every year as a run blocker and is probably one of the premiere blocking tight ends in the league. Now he will be expected to up his receiving game as well.
Last season, Lewis accumulated respectable stats despite some concentration lapses that caused his to drop some very catchable balls. If he hones his receiving skills just a slight bit, he should become a much more effective receiver.
I also have to assume that the players around Lewis will be a little more competent. David Garrard will likely be in better shape when the season rolls around, the receiving corps will have more depth and the offensive line has been replenished with three new members this offseason. This upgrade should mean for more opportunities for Lewis, as the team will move the chains more often and he will not have to stay back and block.
Last year, the AFC Pro Bowl delegate such as Owen Daniels had a little over 800 yards and two touchdowns for a team that doesn't receive much national ink. That's a big jump for Lewis, but he has taken strides every year and will likely be a more integral part of the offense this year. If he stays healthy and has help around him, there is reason to believe that Lewis can get to a Pro Bowl level.
I believe Marcedes Lewis is one of the most underrated tight ends in the entire NFL. That said, it will be nearly impossible for him to earn a trip to Miami in 2010 for the Pro Bowl. This isn't so much a shot against Lewis' ability, but the system and talent that surrounds him. Marcedes plays in an offense that should likely be run-dominant, and with the addition of wide receiver Torry Holt in the offseason, Lewis will almost certainly not be the first option on offense.
To make the Pro Bowl as a tight end, you have to be able to post numbers. Lets look at the competition in the AFC: Antonio Gates, Dallas Clark, Owen Daniels, Dustin Keller, Ben Watson, Heath Miller, and Todd Heap, among others. It will be difficult for Lewis to put up the stats to get recognized as one of the top three tight ends in the conference.
Although run blocking may be vital to the Jacksonville Jaguars' success, you aren't going to earn very many national accolades as a tight end for being a punishing blocker, which Lewis certainly is. Marcedes is taking the right steps to become an elite player at his position, but the combination of not playing in a pass happy offense, not having a top quarterback, and playing in a small market will keep Lewis out of the Pro Bowl this season.
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