Austin Seferian-Jenkins has probably been the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' most controversial this offseason. You know, before Roberto Aguayo started missing kicks. Whoops. Anyway, Seferian-Jenkins ended up in the doghouse at some point this offseason (or maybe even before it) and entered training camp as a second-string tight end. He's steadily worked his way up, though, and is now splitting first-team reps with Cameron Brate.
All of that is promising, as is the fact that Danny Kelly of The Ringer (and formerly of SB Nation) named him the Bucs' X-factor.
The Buccaneers used a 2014 second-rounder on Seferian-Jenkins with the hope that he’d be a big-bodied threat in the red zone and a reliable blocker in the run game. Instead, Seferian-Jenkins has missed 16 games in two years, and was recently kicked out of practice because he “didn’t know what he was doing.” Despite a couple of seasons of minimal progress, his combination of size and smooth athleticism still holds the promise of a complete tight end.
Well, on the one hand, Kelly's entirely right that Seferian-Jenkins has the potential to be a game-breaking tight end. On the other hand, he could have written essentially the same thing last year, or the year before. He's still the same athletic talent, it just hasn't quite come out on the field. It was more present last year than it was in his rookie season, but injuries and limited playing time held him back.
One reason to think this year is different: he's making more positive noises this year, and actually talked about appreciating getting sent out of practice. He's noted that he's more of a technique and detail-oriented player now, rather than just trying to rely on physical dominance. But talk is cheap, as they say, and it's not like he was saying the wrong things the past two years.
It's just hard to tell when a player is really going to take that next step. Usually, they all say the right things. They've had media training, after all.