At this point in the list, it begins to get more difficult to figure out who goes where. Several years ago that was simply not the case, as none of the players left on the list were employed by the team prior to 2014. Each of the following players is an ascending talent that likely has not yet reached the prime of their career, which is a very good thing for the Jaguars.
Julius Thomas, who quite frankly could be much higher on this list, comes in at number eight. He is not higher on the list for two simple reasons. First, his injury history. Thomas, who is entering his sixth year in the league, has never been healthy for a full season and has only played 14 games in a season once. His lengthy injury history, combined with the fact that he has not done a whole lot for the Jaguars yet lands him at eight.
Having pointed out his weaknesses, we can now move on to his strengths. Thomas is perhaps the most difficult Jaguars player for opposing teams to match up with. At 6 foot 5 inches and 250+ pounds Thomas runs like a receiver, has soft hands, and is able to beat defenders with his route running ability. Despite missing a quarter of the season in 2015, Thomas was still able to rack up 46 catches for 455 yards and five touchdowns. He did this while he admittedly was not back to 100 percent and was not always on the same page with his young quarterback.
Through OTAs and training camp this summer, Thomas has been impossible to miss. He routinely finds the end zone in team drills and has been a reliable threat all over the field for his quarterbacks. Despite suffering a sprained ankle in practice on Tuesday, he was back on the field today making plays. Oh, and he just turned 28 years old, so he should have many strong years left in the tank.
Bottom Line: Thomas is a dominant receiving threat at the tight end position. He makes everyone’s job around him much easier with the matchup nightmares that he causes defenses. If Thomas stays healthy for all of 2016 or at least most of it, the Jaguars will be deploying two of the best receiving threats in the game.