It's hard to be the "next great" anything, when you aren't participating in what you're supposedly "great" at. This seems to be the case with Bucs tight end Austin Serferian-Jenkins.
Seferian-Jenkins has played in just 11 of 24 NFL games since being drafted by the Bucs in 2014. Injuries have already riddled ASJ's young career. Of course, that does not mean he can't bounce back and be durable, but as of this moment he's as fragile as they come.
Despite his inability to stay on the field, ASJ is still receiving the praises of Gonzalez.
"He's my number one young guy," Gonzalez said of Seferian-Jenkins via Sporting News. "He’s working with a quarterback that is still learning his way, but I think the sky is the limit. He’s 6-6, 260 pounds, can run like the wind and catches the ball outside the framework of his body."
Seferian-Jenkins was on the verge of exploding as soon as this year. Before he got injured at the end of week two's win over the Saints, ASJ had posted 7 receptions for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns. Those numbers in just two games nearly match the numbers he put up in 9 games as a rookie in 2014.
I think it's safe to wonder why Tony Gonzalez would choose such an unproven commodity to be the next great tight end when there are names like Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, and Travis Kelce available. Gonzalez believes ASJ could do just what those players are doing or have done with better quarterback play.
"I really believe, and nothing against Gronkowski, but if you put (Seferian-Jenkins) with one of these great quarterbacks like a Tom Brady or Drew Brees, he’d be putting up those numbers," Gonzalez said. "As Jameis Winston evolves, I think Seferian-Jenkins will evolve, too. Within three years he’ll be a top 5 tight end in the league."
It's all fine and good to continue to talk about Seferian-Jenkins potential and future, but until he can stay on the field consistently, that potential will never be reached.