The Jaguars waited until the third round of the NFL draft to select a tight end and came away with one of the most athletic options in San Jose State’s Josh Oliver.
Oliver totaled 98 catches for 1,067 yards and seven touchdowns in four seasons. As a senior, he posted career-highs with 56 catches for 709 yards and four scores despite three quarterbacks starting multiple games for the Spartans.
Oliver said his ability to remain part of the offense despite a revolving door at quarterback showed “my ability to adapt to change.”
“The ways I was able to still produce with different guys, different numbers, different types of things going on, different circumstances,” Oliver said. “I think that shows a lot about my game.”
Oliver’s performance at the NFL’s Scouting Combine might show just as much about what sort of player the Jaguars got with the fifth pick of the third round (No. 69 overall).
Oliver ran the 40-yard dash in 4.63 seconds, which was tied with Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr. Only Iowa’s Noah Fant (4.50) and UCLA’s Caleb Wilson (4.56) were faster. His 34-inch vertical leap was also impressive, ranking seventh.
Those attributes could help Oliver offer early value in an offense led by quarterback Nick Foles. Oliver visited the Jaguars before the draft and considered them a good fit.
“I’m a fast guy that can really spread the field,” Oliver said.
That’s the exact sort of player the Jaguars need. Oliver joins a tight end group of Geoff Swaim, James O’Shaughnessy, Ben Koyack and Pharoah McKever. O’Shaughnessy led the team’s tight ends with just 24 catches for 214 yards.
Of course, getting production from the tight ends has long been a challenge. A tight end hasn’t had a 100-yard game in the Jaguars’ offense since Julius Thomas did so on Nov. 29, 2015. Marcedes Lewis in 2010 is the only tight end in franchise history to be voted to a Pro Bowl.
Oliver arrives with an immediate connection. New Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo was San Jose State’s offensive coordinator for two seasons in 2011 and 2012. That was before Oliver got to campus, but it provides some early familiarity.
“He knows where I came from and the roots I came from and stuff and how things go over there,” Oliver said. “We have a good connection.”