What does Jeremy Ruckert bring to the New York Jets?
The addition of Ruckert completes general manager Joe Douglas‘ overhaul of the tight end position.
Last season, the Jets’ tight end unit was filled with inconsistency both in terms of on-field availability and production. In the 2022 offseason, the group had already gotten a significant boost through the free-agent signings of C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin, and the selection of Ruckert puts it over the top.
Here are some of the most important things for Jets fans to know about Ruckert.
Pre-draft measurables and production
Ruckert brings an ideal frame for a tight end. He stands tall at 6-foot-5 and 252 pounds. Ruckert has 32 5/8″ arms and big 10 1/8″ hands.
The only pre-draft drill Ruckert participated in was the bench press, where he recorded 19 reps, an average amount for the position. Even though he did not run at the Combine, Ruckert showed good speed and overall athleticism on tape.
Playing alongside future NFL wide receivers like Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, Ruckert was not a featured target in Ohio State’s passing game, although he made his catches count.
In four years at Ohio State, Ruckert totaled 54 catches for 615 yards and 12 touchdowns. Per Pro Football Focus, Ruckert had 56 catchable passes come his way throughout college and only dropped two passes.
Ruckert is well known for his ability as a blocker in both the run and pass game. He plays with immense effort, toughness, and physicality to be a difference-maker in-line. In a game against Purdue last season, Ruckert had success in pass protection against future Chiefs first-round pick George Karlaftis.
— Anthony Raimondi (@anthonyraimond8) April 30, 2022
Ruckert fits perfectly into Mike LaFleur‘s Jets’ run game, which will feature a lot of zone-split action. He plays with the right mindset and can be forceful at the point of attack.
Jeremy Ruckert is an absolute tone setter pic.twitter.com/1rnp63TXBr
— #Trade13 (@Zach2Elijah) May 1, 2022
As a receiver, Ruckert has the talent to potentially be effective with more opportunities. Possessing good athletic ability, he plays fast and can run routes efficiently, gaining separation at the top of his break.
Jeremy Ruckert pic.twitter.com/6WSOoerpR1
— The 33rd Team (@The33rdTeamFB) April 30, 2022
Ruckert’s hands are reliable when catching the football, and he can be an impactful presence in the red zone with his size. Nearly a quarter of his college catches (12 out of 54) were touchdowns.
— CFB Kings (@CFBKings) December 8, 2019
Even though Uzomah and Conklin were big signings, expect Ruckert to have a clear role in the Jets offense in his rookie year. What he can provide on the end of the line of scrimmage as a blocker is valuable.
On third downs and in obvious passing situations, or when the Jets are in 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end), it is probably fair to expect those reps to go to Uzomah and Conklin in 2022. If there are injuries to either one of those players, Ruckert will be the next man up and has the talent to be relied upon as a receiver.
With the way the tight end position can take time to master for younger players, Joe Douglas really couldn’t have structured this situation any better for Ruckert’s development. He will come into a low-pressure situation behind Uzomah and Conklin.
Over the long haul, Ruckert has the potential to be a great starting tight end for the Jets. What he can provide as a run and pass blocker is already established, not to mention he can still improve even further. As a receiver, all the tools are there for Ruckert to develop into a consistent contributor.
Ruckert’s college offensive coordinator and tight ends coach, Kevin Wilson was excited for Ruckert and had nothing but positive things to say about him after being drafted by the Jets.
“We taught him to get in the three-point stance and block people,” Wilson said. “Half the time, we’re playing left tackle at tight end and half the time we’re playing flex receiver.”
As a pass-catching tight end, Wilson thinks Ruckert projects well in the league.
“He was a very solid, complete tight end. He’s got all the skills to be extremely good.”
Finally, intangibly speaking, Wilson gave glowing reviews on Ruckert.
“He’s always embraced the process and being a team guy,” Wilson said. “He’s a very highly-talented guy and came in on a highly-talented team and made a lot of sacrifices to be not only a good player, but a great teammate and a great leader.”
— Kevin Wilson (@OSUCoachKDub) April 30, 2022
All in all, Ruckert is an exciting addition for the Jets in this fun offseason. Since Dustin Keller, the team has lacked a young and talented tight end with a high ceiling.
Ideally, over time, Ruckert and Zach Wilson can build a special connection in the passing game. If so, Ruckert can be another dynamic piece in the Jets’ youth movement at the skill positions alongside Elijah Moore, Michael Carter, Breece Hall, and college teammate Garrett Wilson.
Having the luxury of playing with two established tight ends in Uzomah and Conklin will only help Ruckert in year one. Even with the two veterans, Ruckert should have an integral role as a rookie.
Still only 21 years old, Ruckert has the athletic ability, hands, toughness, and blocking mindset to be a great Jet for years to come.