The Jags came into 2020 with a huge need at tight end but made the key addition of Tyler Eifert which could pay off if he’s healthy.
As promised, we’ll be continuing our depth chart predictions throughout the next few days with the quarterbacks and running backs out of the way. For today’s preview, we’ll be giving our predictions for the tight end position, a spot that was of huge need when the 2019 season ended.
TE1: Tyler Eifert
Despite his history with injuries (has miss 53 career games), Tyler Eifert is one of the Jags’ biggest free-agent pickups for 2020 and he’ll be the player who is the most familiar with the offensive scheme after spending time with Jay Gruden in Cincinnati. While it’s a gamble to bank on his availability, it’s one that could pay off big for Jacksonville as he’s proven he can be a respectable target when healthy.
Eifert will be coming off a season where he played in all 16 games in 2019 and garnered 43 catches for 436 yards and three touchdowns with the Bengals. That total would be easily the most the Jags have had from the tight end position in four seasons. That said, hopefully, he can provide Gardner Minshew II with a threat in the middle of the field, something he clearly lacked during his rookie season.
TE2: Josh Oliver
The second tight end spot behind Eifert will be up for grabs and Josh Oliver should be one of the two players fighting for it. The Jags invested a third-round pick into him last year and have made it clear they have high hopes for him as a receiver.
Oliver will be coming off a season where he didn’t practice all that much with a hamstring injury and he only saw the field for four games before being placed on injured reserve with a back injury. He was only able to register three receptions for 15 yards, so there is a lot for him to prove in 2020.
TE3: James O’Shaughnessy
James O’Shaughnessy will be battling for the TE2 spot as well after ending up on IR with Oliver with a torn ACL. When he was available, O’Shaughnessy was clearly one of Minshew’s favorite targets and the two linked up for two touchdowns.
If O’Shaughnessy is healthy by the time the Jags take the field for training camp, maybe the two can pick up where they left off. That would certainly bode well for O’Shaughnessy being the guy behind Eifert if so.
TE4: Charles Jones
Charles Jones signed with the Jags last offseason after the draft as an undrafted free agent. He eventually ended up on their practice squad in September and was promoted to the 53-man roster in November. He was active for four games and only registered a catch for five yards in their season finale against the Indianapolis Colts.
Much like Oliver, he has a lot to prove in 2020. However, due to not being a high draft selection, his chances aren’t nearly as high to stick around. Still, he has a little more experience than the rookies behind him and looks more like a practice squad candidate.
TE5: Tyler Davis
Sixth-round pick Tyler Davis was one of the Jags’ 12 draft selections this offseason. He spent a majority of his collegiate career at the University of Connecticut but transferred to Georgia Tech in 2019. While there, he accumulated 17 catches for 248 yards and a touchdown and was able to register 47 catches for 500 yards and seven touchdowns with the Huskies prior.
At 6-foot-4, 252-pounds, he’ll be an interesting project for the Jags and could climb the depth chart by flashing in the preseason. In all probability, he’ll have to spend 2020 on the practice squad but could be a player who is much more polished two years down the road.
TE6: Ben Ellefson
Ben Ellefson was one of the Jags’ many undrafted free-agent additions after the 2020 NFL Draft. He wasn’t quite as productive as Davis in terms of receiving yards while in college at North Dakota State, but will be coming off two seasons where he nearly registered 200 yards. However, he also was pretty good at finding the end-zone, accumulating 16 career touchdowns.
Like Davis, he’s a practice squad candidate and his best way to stick around will be showcasing his blocking ability and showing up on special teams.