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The underestimation of NY Jets’ Tyler Conklin is getting out of hand

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Tyler Conklin, New York Jets, Getty Images

The attacks on the New York Jets’ tight end position keep on coming

New York Jets tight end Tyler Conklin is no stranger to snubs. He’s spent essentially all of the 2024 offseason being called the weakest link on the team. FTN Fantasy’s Aaron Schatz recommended the Jets sign Robert Tonyan to augment or even replace Conklin.

Now, NFL.com writer Kevin Patra piled on, naming the Jets’ tight end room one of the 10 biggest roster holes remaining around the NFL. Here’s what he had to say:

There was a reason seemingly every mocker pegged Brock Bowers to Gang Green leading up to the 2024 NFL Draft. Tyler Conklin sits atop the TE depth chart. He’s a fine supplemental player, but not one who will command attention or see a major leap in production. He is what he is entering his seventh pro campaign. Fortunately for Conklin, the Jets didn’t stockpile the position to push him for reps. Jeremy Ruckert has 17 career catches, Kenny Yeboah has four, Zack Kuntz has two career offensive snaps, and Lincoln Sefcik and Kevin Foelsch are undrafted free-agent signees. Aaron Rodgers has performed without special tight end talent in the past, so it’s not an emergency-siren situation. However, bolstering the unit would help take some pressure off a pass-catching group that is counting heavily on receiver Mike Williams (torn ACL last September) returning to form. 

All this Conklin criticism is more than a bit over the top. Perhaps you can call tight end the Jets’ biggest roster hole, but that just speaks to how robust their roster is. But one of the worst holes on an NFL roster? That’s a gross exaggeration.

For one thing, tight end is one of the least important positions in the NFL. Tight ends are up there with running backs, off-ball linebackers, and safeties when it comes to the lowest-paid positions. Most of the other positions on Patra’s list are far more important than tight end — edge rusher, wide receiver, interior offensive line, left tackle, defensive line, and the whole offensive line.

For another, there are plenty of other contenders whose No. 1 tight end is at least arguably worse than Conklin. The Bengals’ TE1 is Mike Gesicki, he of the 29 catches for 243 yards and two touchdowns in 2023. Tanner Hudson was better at 39 catches for 352 yards and one touchdown, but that’s not exactly a world-beating duo. The Dolphins are running out Jonnu Smith a year after Durham Smythe was their TE1 — 35 catches for 366 yards. Smith had 50 catches for 582 yards and three scores a year ago, but Conklin’s numbers were better.

Other playoff-seeking teams like the Buccaneers (Cade Otton), Colts (Jelani Woods), Packers (Luke Musgrave), Rams (Tyler Higbee), and Steelers (Pat Freiermuth) have No. 1 tight ends with at least the same number of questions as Conklin faces. But suddenly the Jets’ tight end room is a top-10 problem in the NFL?

If you want to argue about the depth in the tight end room, since when does a team’s No. 2 tight end merit this much emphasis? Many if not most teams have a blocking-first player at that spot. Most teams play 11 personnel the majority of the time, anyway, making their second tight end less important. And the third tight end? The fourth? How far down the roster are we going to call something a roster hole?

There seems to be an odd fixation on Conklin as a poor player. And with the other weapons on the Jets’ offense, Conklin’s raw numbers may end up much less impressive in 2024 than in the last few seasons. Still, his efficiency should only improve with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the football.

And yes, the article mentions that Rodgers has thrived without anything special at tight end — further calling into question why it was even listed as a key roster hole in the first place.

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mlesko73
1 month ago

I’m with you Rivka, Conklin is going to have a fantastic year with A8 under center

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