In this piece, the New York Jets’ tight end position will be assessed. Looking at the Jets’ current roster, this group is arguably the biggest concern, especially on offense. With Zach Wilson being a rookie quarterback, finding a consistent player from this group in the passing game will be of great importance.
Chris Herndon is at a crucial point in his career entering his fourth season with the Jets. In free agency, the Jets signed veteran Tyler Kroft. Former fourth-round pick, Trevon Wesco is entering his third year. Ryan Griffin is the longest-tenured player in the league out of this group, hopefully back to full health.
For the second straight offseason, Daniel Brown was re-signed by the Jets. The Jets did not select a tight end in the draft this year but did sign an exciting prospect, Kenny Yeboah, as an undrafted free agent. Each of these six players and their potential roles will be evaluated.
Jets Position Group Analysis: Tight End
Herndon enters 2021 with arguably a career-defining type of season. He has all the athletic ability and is a capable blocker. In his rookie season, he showed how dynamic he can be. Unfortunately, his hands as a pass-catcher have been way too inconsistent.
Over the last two seasons, Herndon has contributed virtually nothing to the Jets. This season, hopefully, it changes. Herndon possesses the talent needed to be a very good tight end. Hopefully, he improved his hands this offseason. It would be great if he could be more reliable with a huge question mark surrounding receiving options at tight end for the Jets.
Herndon will enter training camp with another fair opportunity to be impactful. Expect him to at least have a role as a blocker. Herndon can create separation and win as a receiver. Ideally, he can put together some consistency.
Kroft is the most reliable tight end the Jets currently have. He is a veteran player with good experience and some production. Kroft should have somewhat of a significant role in Coach LaFleur’s offense.
As a blocking tight end, Kroft will help the Jets. He is capable of winning on the edge. As a pass-catcher, Kroft might be the most dependable out of this group. He has good length, one season of serviceable receiving production, and sure-enough hands.
In 2021, Kroft may likely be on the field the most out of the Jets’ tight ends as a result of his solid ability in both the run and pass game. He does not have the greatest potential. However, as long as he is on the field, Jets fans can have a good idea of what to expect.
In the new offense, Wesco could have an integral role. Coach LaFleur’s scheme will deploy a fullback. The Jets were not able to sign Kyle Juszczyk in free agency or draft a true fullback late. This could open up a great opportunity for Wesco.
As a blocker, Wesco has great potential. He has shown some flashes in the running game in his first two seasons. He has imposing size which can help him win against interior defenders and edge rushers alike. Wesco can likely line up in a multitude of positions pre-snap and win blocking. As a pass-catcher, Wesco will probably not see too many chances.
Wesco could carve out a nice role for himself in this new offense. It would be great if he could be a tone-setter for the running game and possibly contribute in pass protection off play-action as well, it will be featured in a big way.
Griffin was one of Joe Douglas’ first additions in the summer of 2019. That season, Griffin went on to make the most of his chance. He was very effective in the passing game. It led to an earned three-year contract extension. Shortly after, he suffered an injury. He was not himself last season.
Hopefully, Griffin was able to make a good enough recovery this offseason. Just two years ago, he showed what he can be as a receiving tight end. If he is healthy, it would be great if he could get back to that form. Griffin was solid for the Jets’ offense.
Over these next few months, Griffin will be one of the more fascinating players on the Jets to follow. There is such an unknown as to who the Jets can count on from this group to help Wilson. Griffin could provide something for the Jets.
Brown has been with the Jets since 2019. He has been re-signed by the team the last two offseasons. Clearly, there is something that the Jets like. Brown has an athletic background and brings some speed. Once again, with a major concern at tight end in the receiving game, there is an opportunity. It will be interesting to see if Brown can earn a roster spot.
Tight end was a need for the Jets going into the draft. They ended up not selecting one. After the draft, they signed Yeboah as an undrafted free agent. Yeboah has some enticing talent. Last season, he had solid production as a receiver. There will be chances for Yeboah as a young player to make an impact. If he does not make the final roster, he should be a top practice squad candidate. With a great summer as a pass-catcher, he would likely earn himself a roster spot.
Jets Position Group Analysis: Conclusions
To start the regular season, four of these six should presumably be on the Jets roster. One would guess the four would be Herndon, Kroft, Wesco, and Griffin.
Kroft is a lock with his fully guaranteed salary. He will help as a blocker. As recent mid-round draft picks, Herndon and Wesco should be good to make it. Wesco should have a sizable role with his ability as a blocker. Herndon limiting pass-catching mistakes would be a bonus. Griffin still being with the team after uncertainty all offseason makes it look like he should be on the roster.
Brown looks like a camp player on the outside looking in. Maybe, he beats out Griffin for the final spot with a strong showing this summer. If Yeboah shows fast development, he could make it. However, realistically speaking, it will take time. Starting on the practice squad would not be a problem.