Over the last couple of decades, the tight end position in the NFL has become a vital part of the success of an offense. Athletes with size, speed, and agility combined have revolutionized the position. These new tight ends cause matchup difficulties and impact a game from the first snap. Does the defense use a linebacker or a safety? Maybe possibly a defensive back, or dropping an edge rusher into zone coverage. As the statistics pile up, it’s easy to see these guys are not your daddy’s tight ends.
However, throughout the Jacksonville Jaguars 25 year history, the team has never been able to possess a true game-changer at the position. As the calendar turns to the 2019 season, the same holds true in Jacksonville. Or does it?
The front office addressed the position in free agency and in the middle of the draft. History proves that quarterback Nick Foles favors a tight end as an outlet. But who are these guys at the tight end position for Jacksonville? Furthermore, can they have an impact.
Analyzing the Jacksonville Jaguars Tight End Duo
Geoff Swaim: 6’4″, 260 pounds
Geoff Swaim joins the Jaguars as a free agent, after four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. Competition for playing time was tough behind future Hall of Famer Jason Witten in Dallas, but Swaim kept a roster spot. His role was mainly as a bruising blocker for Dallas’ running game and he dealt with a variety of injuries.
Swaim Expectations in Jacksonville
The expectations for Swaim are still a bit murky in Jacksonville. However, he seems to have the starting role locked up at this point. But as the opener against the Kansas City Chiefs draws closer, one can see why Swaim signed with the Jaguars. Two names. Nick Foles and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.
Within the DeFilippo’s offense, Swaim will be in pre-snap motion more than he was in Dallas. This motion can help him gain an advantage off the line on a smaller defender. Therefore being able to use his frame as a short-yardage target for Foles in the passing game. If Swaim’s hard work during OTAs and camp translate to the regular season, his involvement will be crucial for third-down efficiency.
Swaim will not blow you away with downfield speed. However, if he is able to haul in 35 plus catches, he can alter the blueprint of the offense.
Josh Oliver: 6’5″ 250 pounds
The rookie out of San Jose State has already caught the eye of the offensive coaching staff. Perhaps he is the steal of the 2019 draft. Despite his need for work as a blocker, his pass-catching skills have been on display this summer in Jacksonville. His body and playing style mirror today’s NFL tight end.
Oliver has a unique set of skills for today’s NFL tight end. Of all the current tight ends for the Jaguars, Oliver has all-around athleticism. He possesses good hands, above-average speed, outstanding body control, along with the ability to make yards after the catch. These abilities make Oliver both a red zone threat along with the ability to stretch the field down the seams.
Too good to be true right? Possibly, as Oliver is currently nursing a hamstring injury that has his return by the opener in limbo. It is unfortunate that he will most likely not participate in any preseason contests and only add light work prior to his return. However, once he returns, Oliver will need to be accounted for by the defense. The Jaguars’ fanbase is hopeful he is the answer at the position that has eluded them for years. Once he returns, if he is able to generate 45 plus catches his selection would be considered a success.
Last Word on Jacksonville Jaguars Tight End Group
Honestly, Swaim and Oliver are relatively inexperienced and are not going to strike fear in an opponent. That type of respect has to be earned. Foles and the offense don’t need gaudy numbers similar of the league’s elite tight ends like Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz. But they need something. Anything.
Get a first down on third and short. Extend the drive. The position is not the key to the Jaguars’ offense, but it can serve as a catalyst. Eventually, if this duo can create the need for the tight end position to be respected, other options will evolve for Defillipio.