Even though the NY Jets have three useful TEs on the roster, Daniel Jeremiah thinks they need a real difference-maker
When NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah says something about the New York Jets, it can be taken in one of two ways.
Given Jeremiah’s close connection to Jets GM Joe Douglas from their time in the Ravens’ personnel department, it’s easy to think that he has a pro-Jets bias.
On the other hand, that same connection often makes outsiders think that he knows something extra that the public does not.
In Jeremiah’s most recent mock draft, he has the Jets taking tackle Broderick Jones from Georgia with the No. 13 overall pick. That is not an unusual selection given the Jets’ obvious need for a tackle and the projection that Paris Johnson Jr. and Pete Skoronski might be off the board before then.
However, Jeremiah made some other comments about the Jets’ needs that seem a bit strange.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, who has #Jets taking Georgia T Broderick Jones at 13, mentions TE + C as other needs. On a zoom call: “I know they signed all those TEs last year, but I still don't think they have a real dynamic, difference-making tight end.” Great year for TEs.
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) February 24, 2023
The mention of center is also expected given that Connor McGovern is a free agent and may command more money on the market than the Jets would be able or willing to pay him.
However, tight end is a somewhat strange position to bring up. Not only did the Jets sign two tight ends to starter-caliber contracts last offseason, but they also spent a third-round pick on a developmental tight end who was considered by many to be the best TE in last year’s draft.
Between Tyler Conklin, C.J. Uzomah, and Jeremy Ruckert, tight end is the one position where the Jets actually seem set. So why is Jeremiah mentioning that as a position of need?
Furthermore, bringing up the need for a “difference-making tight end” is odd. How many NFL teams truly have a difference-maker at the tight end position? Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Mark Andrews are pretty much the only three who truly fall into that category at this point.
There are some other names out there who have been strong players for their teams, including Dallas Goedart, Dalton Schultz, and Darren Waller. However, they definitely fall into a tier below. Kyle Pitts has the talent to be a difference-maker but fell into relative obscurity with the Falcons this season.
Honestly, if you look at Conklin, how many other teams have a tight end who is definitively better than him? Among 34 qualified tight ends last season (min. 39 targets), Conklin was tied for eighth in receptions (58), 12th in yards (552), and first in contested-catch rate (69.2%).
This was despite having the absolute worst quarterbacking in the league and being used in a way that did not maximize his strengths, which resulted in poorer rankings in some other statistical areas.
In fact, Conklin was targeted just three times in the red zone the entire season, which is supposed to be where TEs become the focal point; unsurprisingly, all three of those resulted in touchdowns.
Uzomah, meanwhile, was utilized as a blocking-first tight end. Although he didn’t do a great job in that area, that’s not what Jeremiah means when he says “difference-maker.” Uzomah isn’t all that great of a route-runner, but he still caught 21 of his 26 targets for 232 yards and two TDs. However, just one year before in Cincinnati, Uzomah caught 49 balls for 493 yards and five TDs.
Those are more than serviceable numbers from the team’s tight-end duo. Yes, both players were underwhelming in their first season in New York, but that seemed to be a lot more about the scheme and the quarterbacks than their own lack of ability.
Meanwhile, Ruckert figures to see more action in Year 2 after showing promise as a blocker in the season finale against Miami. It’s hard to know where he’s holding as a pass-catcher, as he didn’t do much of it in college. However, many college scouts projected him to have significant upside as a receiver.
Is that not a tight-end room that most NFL teams would be perfectly satisfied with? Most teams do not have a Travis Kelce.
Jeremiah was coming partially from the perspective of a strong 2023 draft class at tight end. However, the Jets already have significant assets committed to their top three without any realistic way to clear space financially or roster-wise.
Additionally, the Jets have so many other needs in the draft, including the tackle and potentially the center that Jeremiah mentioned, as well as safety, linebacker, defensive tackle, and wide receiver. They don’t have the luxury of making a “best player available” pick at a position where they don’t have a specific need.
Jeremiah’s pick seems strange both in a vacuum and when taking a closer look at the Jets’ roster. Is there any chance they pick up yet another tight end in 2023?
This TE draft projection caused a bit of a stir on one of the FB Jet pages I follow.
My take is like yours, we have three TE’s who can be more than adequate with a competent QB and OC. Not using the TE’s in the red zone was one of my biggest condemnations of LaF.
Given Ruckert’s final game blocking performance I’d imagine the next OC will find a way to use all of the incumbents.
OLine, Oline, Oline
He didn’t actually mock a TE to the Jets, but yeah, the statement was somewhat puzzling.
I agree about the OL being the No. 1 priority.