Dustin Keller is an average tight end. It might not sound right, but there is strong basis for this opinion. Dustin is a very good receiver for his position, faster and more athletic than a lot of guys. He is arguably a top ten pass catching tight end. He is coming off his best receiving season, 65 catches for 815 yards.
While the pass catching part of his game is good, he is an extremely poor run blocker, one of the worst at his position. It has been kind of an odd thing for a team that wanted to pride itself around its run game has a tight end so much more adept at receiving than blocking.
Keller is a good receiver, but he has not been the kind of player defenses have had to game plan around. He does not present the physical mismatches a Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham does. He has not consistently broken games the way Antonio Gates or Dallas Clark did at their best.
Keller has been a nice complimentary player who can create favorable matchups. Part of this has been due to his inconsistent quarterbacking, but Dustin has to take some of the blame also. His route running can be inconsistent. He also does not come up with a lot of catchable balls. I am not talking about Santonio Holmes style brutal drops either. There are a lot of balls within his grasp in traffic that he does not come up with. There are also numerous instances where he just does not look for a pass coming in his direction.
I was not shocked to hear the rumors of the Jets potentially shopping Keller because of all this. NYJetsCap.com indicates getting rid of Keller would free up a little more than $1 million in cap space. I would not recommend the Jets doing this. I think Keller can be exploited to create favorable matchups with the offense, and he seems to be the only receiver Mark Sanchez has a bond with right now. I have come to think, however, that Keller is not the full time tight end the Jets have been using him as. I think the team should find a more complete guy capable of run blocking and receiving and move Dustin around more. Have him play tight end, but also split him wide in base sets to either isolate him against a slower linebacker or smaller corner. Use him out of the backfield. He can probably be better exploited.
What do you think?