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Jaguars Training Camp Preview: Tight End

Which tight ends have the most to gain entering training camp later in July?

The Jacksonville Jaguars are a few weeks away from kicking off Doug Pederson's first training camp at the helm, giving us plenty of time to take a look at each of the team's position groups before the 2022 season.

Jacksonville wasn't afraid to make a number of big moves on both sides of the ball this offseason, both via the free agency and the draft. Now, they have a new-look roster that contrasts in a big way from the roster we saw the team field in Week 1 in 2021.

Related: Jaguars Training Camp Preview: Quarterback

Related: Jaguars Training Camp Preview: Running Back 

Next up: the tight end position. What does it look like today, what changes did the Jaguars make and what needs to be addressed ahead of camp?

The depth chart

Evan Engram

Age/Experience: 27/sixth season.

2021 stats:

  • 46 catches
  • 408 yards
  • 8.9 yards per catch 
  • 3 touchdowns
  • 21 first downs
  • 61% catch rate

There are few players the Jaguars will need to step up this season more than Evan Engram. The former 2017 first-rounder spent five years with the Giants, recording 1,299 yards and nine touchdowns in his first two seasons. The last three seasons, though, saw him record 1,529 yards and seven touchdowns as the Giants dealt with quarterback and coaching issues. 

Engram has mostly been able to stay healthy the last two seasons, though his catch percentage in that period is 59.9%. Some of that has to do with Daniel Jones, and some has to do with Engram recording 17 drops the last two years, per Pro Football Reference.

Still, Engram has speed and athleticism that no Jaguars tight end has had in quite some time, if ever. The Jaguars believe in his talent and he has been a solid locker room presence and leader of the tight end room since his addition. He is clearly motivated by his Giants tenure and his desire to produce in a more tight end-friendly offense, giving him a lot of potential as a breakout player in Pederson's offense.

Dan Arnold

Age/Experience: 27/fifth season.

2021 stats:

  • 35 catches
  • 408 yards
  • 11.7 yards per catch
  • 0 touchdowns
  • 17 first downs
  • 68.3% catch rate

One of the Jaguars' best weapons a year ago, the Jaguars are getting another year out of Dan Arnold after trading for him and a third-round pick in the CJ Henderson deal last fall. The Jaguars seem to be on the winning side of that trade thus far, with Arnold looking like a legitimate weapon and mismatch at times last season.

Arnold will likely benefit from the Jaguars adding Engram to the tight end room and Pederson to the coaching staff. Arnold has the type of skill-set Pederson can tap into, and the Jaguars still need playmakers to separate themselves and stand out on offense. Arnold also built a lot of good chemistry with Trevor Lawrence during their time together last season. 

Engram, meanwhile, means Arnold no longer has to be the Jaguars' best and top option at tight end in the passing game. Arnold is a good player, but the fact that he is now their No. 2 tight end instead of one of the top weapons in the entire offense is a good sign for their depth and for Arnold's potential impact.

Chris Manhertz

Age/Experience: 30/seventh season.

2021 stats:

  • 6 catches
  • 71 yards
  • 11.8 yards per catch
  • 1 touchdown
  • 4 first downs
  • 66.7% catch rate

A player who is greatly respected inside of TIAA Bank Field thanks to his leadership, intangibles and physicality as a blocker, Chris Manhertz's role with the Jaguars isn't set to change too much this year. Manhertz played all 17 games for the Jaguars last year but played just 36% of the snaps and saw nine targets on the entire year as his role was more of a blocker.

Manhertz is expected to return to that role in 2022 in Pederson's offense. While Pederson's offense could call for potentially more schemed plays involving Manhertz, the biggest impact and role Manhertz is set to play on the current Jaguars roster is as a blocker. It wouldn't be a shock to see him play the same volume of snaps as last season as the Jaguars' top blocking option at the position.

Luke Farrell

Age/Experience: 24/second season.

2021 stats:

  • 7 catches
  • 56 yards
  • 8.0 yards per catch
  • 0 touchdowns
  • 3 first downs
  • 63.6% catch rate

A young player who the Jaguars believe is ascending and has a chance to show off a lot of potential, Luke Farrell appeared in 15 games last year but was mostly a reserve player on offense and featured on special teams. He did have flashes in limited snaps as a pass-catcher last year and is one of two tight ends on the roster who has been on the since last training camp.

Perhaps the biggest thing working in Farrell's favor is his versatility. He is a strong enough blocker to play in-line while also offering the smoothness and overall quickness to make an impact as a pass-catcher. The Jaguars think he can play both F and Y tight end, which may not be able to be said for the other three top tight ends on the roster.

Gerrit Prince (R)

Age/Experience: 24/first season.

2021 stats: N/A.

An undrafted rookie who flashed as a pass-catcher toward the end of OTAs, Gerrit Prince will face an uphill battle to make the roster. Still, if he can impress in pads then he has a chance to be a darkhorse candidate for the bottom of the 53-man roster or even the practice squad.

Grayson Gunter (R)

Age/Experience: 24/first season.

2021 stats: N/A.

Another rookie who had his moments as a pass-catcher this spring, Grayson Gunter wasn't as overall consistent as Prince but his flashes were just as impressive. Gunter is set to face the same uphill battle as Prince, but he has a skill set to develop as a potential Y tight end.

Naz Bohannon (R)

Age/Experience: 23/first season.

2021 stats: N/A.

A former tryout player who played college basketball at Clemson, Naz Bohannon didn't play football during his college years but his athletic traits were enough for the Jaguars to want to stash on the roster entering training camp. 

How the room changed this offseason

The Jaguars overhauled the overall tight end depth chart over the last two offseasons, with each player on the roster being a new addition in that period. The Jaguars saw Chris Manhertz (2021 FA), Luke Farrell (2021 draft) and Dan Arnold (2021 trade) all contribute last season, but new No. 1 tight end Evan Engram is a newcomer via free agency, while the other three tight ends on the roster are undrafted free agents signed this offseason.

The biggest difference in the Jaguars' tight end room after this offseason is clearly the presence of Engram. Engram is the new top dog in the tight end room, giving the Jaguars a pass-catching threat and athletic mismatch option that they haven't had at tight end in some time. 

Manhertz and Farrell's roles aren't impacted too greatly by the addition of Engram since each is more of a blocking tight end who won't see as many passes. Arnold will go from the Jaguars' clear top tight end to their No. 2 pass-catcher at the position though, giving him a smaller role than last year but still a chance to be one of the top-5 pass-catchers on the Jaguars' offense this season.

Aside from these changes, the Jaguars are also getting the pure impact of Doug Pederson's hiring on the tight end room. Pederson made the tight end position a staple of his offense with the Eagles and he very well could do the same in Jacksonville from a schematic standpoint.

The biggest storyline surrounding the group following the offseason

Can Evan Engram boost the tight end room enough to be more than just a 2022 solution? The Jaguars signed Engram to a one-year deal this offseason in large part because Engram wanted a prove-it deal after five years with the Giants. 

“It was definitely a personal decision, and the Jags were able to work out a good deal for me. There were some things over the past season that I just felt like I didn’t get to showcase my true abilities and have a great opportunity to do that," Engram said after signing with the Jaguars. 

"I felt coming here with [Head Coach] Doug [Pederson] and Trevor [Lawrence] and the direction this franchise is going to [it was best] to take a one-year deal to work hard and make big plays and hopefully down the line be a long-term thing.”

If Engram can play well enough to demand consideration for a new contract in 2023, that means the signing was a win and the Jaguars may have a long-term answer on the roster. If Engram's play doesn't indicate a new contract is on the horizon, then the Jaguars are going back to the drawing board at tight end next offseason.