One of the most exciting parts of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ regular season is the anticipation of seeing how new coach Doug Pederson will improve the offense. He’s long been respected as a bright offensive mind in the NFL and he now has a player in Trevor Lawrence who many regarded as the best prospect to be drafted since Andrew Luck.
Pederson displayed how brilliant of an offensive mind he was with the Kansas City Chiefs as a coordinator, which led to him getting a job as a head coach in Philadelphia with the Eagles. While there, he was able to lead the team to a Super Bowl win during the 2017 season, and Jags fans are hoping he does the same for them.
When looking back at his tenure as a head coach, one key element of Pederson’s offenses was the utilization of the tight end position. That’s an area where the Jags have struggled in recent years, and the hope is that Pederson can improve the production there.
This spring, the team addressed the position by adding a former first-round pick in Evan Engram through free agency on a one-year deal. While he wasn’t able to put it all together with the New York Giants, he had developed a reputation as an athletic player at the position, which is something Lawrence has already picked up on after several practices.
Earlier this week, Lawrence talked about Engram with the media, as well as the rest of the tight end group, which consists of several players who bring different things to the offense.
“Evan [Engram]’s great, ”Lawrence said when asked about the Jags free-agent addition. “He adds a lot of speed at tight end. Looking at our tight end room, you have some really good players. Some new guys obviously, but then you have Dan [Arnold] who can kind of do it all, Evan who’s really fast who’s going to add an explosive element to the offense, Chris Manhertz, just a really big guy that can help in the passing game, a great blocker, and then Luke [Farrell] who’s kind of a hybrid that can just plug and play wherever you need him, really good in the pass game, really technical with his hands in the blocking game, run game. We have a really good room, well-rounded and I think that’s going to help us a lot this year. ”
While the pads have yet to go on, this is encouraging to hear about Engram, who could be the Jags’ top tight end in an offense that targets the position often. If he continues to make progress in the new system throughout the summer and in training camp especially, it’s possible he could be in line for another Pro Bowl season like he had as a rookie.
As for Arnold, he’s entering his second season with Lawrence as the Jags traded for him last September and acquired him from the Carolina Panthers. With almost a full season with Lawrence, both should have a great deal of chemistry this season, and fans should expect Pederson to take advantage of that.
Manhertz, who is the Jags’ oldest tight end, will also be entering his second season with Lawrence. And while he didn’t prove to be the receiver that Arnold was, he is the player the staff could be looking at as a TE3 where he will have to hold off 2021 rookie Luke Farrell, who is a good developmental tight end.
The Jags also have a group of athletic undrafted tight ends who could impress as organized team activities go on and training camp arrives. Those players are Gerrit Prince (a speedy receiving option), Naz Bohannon (a former collegiate basketball player), and Grayson Gunter. The preseason would be the time for them to gain ground on Manhertz or Farrell, but only time will tell if they can close the gap on the two veterans who got a great deal of experience in 2021.