The Jaguars released Tyler Eifert yesterday. The 30-year-old will likely catch on with some other team, playing as part of a tandem (to keep him healthy) and having the occasional game with 3 receptions for 30 yards, with a touchdown once every 5 or 6 games. Personally I'm more interested in who's left behind.
Back in 2019 the Jaguars used a third-round pick on Josh Oliver. As a senior at San Jose State, Oliver caught 56 passes for 709 yards and 4 touchdowns. He spent most of his rookie season on injured reserve, then all of last year after breaking his foot. So yes: he's done virtually nothing his first two seasons.
But Jacksonville's tight end room is extra thin with Eifert gone. Next-best option a year ago was James O'Shaughnessy, a 29-year-old blocker who's averaged slightly over a catch per game in his career. The other tight ends currently on the roster combined to catch 4 more balls than Oliver did last season. So the opportunity is there.
For a sense of whether I should still be hanging onto Oliver in a dynasty league, I took a look at all tight ends drafted in the first three rounds this century who failed to make an impact in their first two seasons. (I set the bar at 300 receiving yards.) There were 37 such players, including two other 2019 guys -- Jace Sternberger in Green Bay (who was pushed aside by Robert Tonyan), and Kahale Warring in Houston. The odds of a third-year breakout for any of the three, based on the past 20 years, isn't great.
Seven of the previous 34, so about a fifth, put up that elusive 300-receiving yard season in Year 3. Best of those was Kellen Winslow Jr. (in the news recently for a non-football reason). Three others have had some success, with Jonnu Smith the most notable recent player. Smith looks like the most Oliver-like player -- it's possible.
But the vast majority of those players didn't do anything in Year 3, either, as the table (which shows year 1 and 2 receiving yards and then catches, yards and touchdowns in year 3) shows. Table is shorted by third-year yardage.
|THIRD-YEAR TES, UNDER 300 YARDS FIRST TWO SEASONS, 2000-|
|Draft||Rd||Player||Yr 1||Yr 2||No||Yds||TD|
|2004||1||Kellen Winslow, Clev.||50||0||89||875||3|
|2014||3||C.J. Fiedorowicz, Hou.||28||167||54||559||4|
|2006||2||Anthony Fasano, Dall.||126||143||34||454||7|
|2017||3||Jonnu Smith, Tenn.||157||258||35||439||3|
|2015||3||Tyler Kroft, Cin.||129||92||42||404||7|
|2002||1||Jerramy Stevens, Sea.||252||72||31||349||3|
|2013||2||Vance McDonald, S.F.||119||30||30||326||3|
|2016||3||Nick Vannett, Sea.||32||124||29||269||3|
|2008||2||Martellus Bennett, Dall.||283||159||33||260||0|
|2002||3||Chris Baker, NYJ||14||137||18||182||4|
|2000||3||Erron Kinney, Tenn.||197||263||13||173||0|
|2001||3||Shad Meier, Tenn.||31||17||13||159||0|
|2015||3||Jeff Heuerman, Den.||0||141||9||142||2|
|2004||2||Kris Wilson, K.C.||0||33||15||132||1|
|2006||2||Joe Klopfenstein, St.L.||226||37||11||123||0|
|2008||3||Craig Stevens, Tenn.||9||0||11||122||2|
|2000||3||Dustin Lyman, Chi.||4||0||14||121||2|
|2009||3||Travis Beckum, NYG||55||116||5||93||1|
|2003||3||Visante Shiancoe, NYG||56||25||8||91||0|
|2015||2||Maxx Williams, Balt.||268||0||15||86||1|
|2017||2||Adam Shaheen, Chi.||127||48||9||74||0|
|2004||3||Ben Hartsock, Ind.||33||8||6||68||0|
|2013||2||Gavin Escobar, Dall.||134||105||8||64||1|
|2003||2||Teyo Johnson, Oak.||128||131||3||29||0|
|2007||3||Matt Spaeth, Pitt.||34||136||5||25||1|
|2005||3||Kevin Everett, Buff.||0||1||1||3||0|
|2003||3||Mike Seidman, Car.||35||123||0||0||0|
|2008||3||Brad Cottam, K.C.||63||120||0||0||0|
|2014||2||Troy Niklas, Ariz.||38||33||1||0||0|
|2009||3||Chase Coffman, Cin.||0||30||0||0||0|
|2009||2||Richard Quinn, Den.||0||9||0||0||0|
|2003||2||Bennie Joppru, Hou.||0||0||0||0||0|
|2001||3||Sean Brewer, Cin.||0||0||0||0||0|
|2012||3||Michael Egnew, Mia.||0||69||0||0||0|
|2019||3||Jace Sternberger, G.B.||0||114||?||?||?|
|2019||3||Kahale Warring, Hou.||0||35||?||?||?|
|2019||3||Josh Oliver, Jac.||15||0||?||?||?|
Martellus Bennett, note, didn't do much in any of his first three seasons in the league. First four, actually, stuck behind Jason Witten in Dallas. He then proceeded to catch 50-plus passes five years in a row with the Giants and Bears, including a 90-catch Pro Bowl season in Chicago. But he's definitely the exception.
If Oliver (or Sternberger or Warring) amounts to anything, he'll be beating the odds.