Boasting perhaps the NFL's most improved roster, the Jacksonville Jaguars are a trendy Cinderella pick to graduate from perennial AFC South doormat to division champions in 2016.
The defense could have as many as six new starters. The offense is poised to become one of the NFL's best.
If the Jaguars are going to reach their potential and crash the postseason party, they will need tight end Julius Thomas to recapture Pro Bowl form after floundering in his Jacksonville debut last season.
Returning from a broken bone in his hand that caused him to miss September, Thomas was a step slow in October and November. An afterthought in the aerial attack last season, he has spent extra time with Bortles this offseason in hopes of establishing a better rapport.
"We had a chance this offseason to sit down multiple times, watch film and talk about things," Bortles said this week, via ESPN.com. "Talk about what he wanted from me and what I wanted from him and how we can quickly get on the same page to grow together.
"He's been unbelievable. He's obviously a freak athlete and he's continued to prove that and make plays."
It's easy to forget that Thomas was the best player on the field during offseason and early-camp practices last year. Not long ago, he was viewed as one of the NFL's most dangerous red-zone and open-field weapons.
"Skill-set wise as a tight end, he gives you everything," NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah raved in 2014. "He can run after the catch, he can post you up in the middle of the field, he has a great feel in the red zone. He's an outstanding tight end and a big-time weapon for (his quarterback)."
Young wideouts Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns have already emerged as prolific tandem rivaling any in the league. If Thomas starts turning back the clock to 2013, Bortles has a chance to direct the most explosive offense Jacksonville has seen this century.