I have a gut feeling that Dustin Keller will be playing his football somewhere other than with the Jets next year, we have tendered Jeff Cumberland, a player that has struggled to stay fit. We have Hayden Smith, a player Scott highlighted yesterday, he's a player with a lot of the right measurables, but they don't always translate and work out. Will we go for a tight end early in the draft? Probably not, we have too many holes and we have young potential at the position at the moment. However, there is no harm in previewing some of the guys that may be available.
So lets have a look at a player who many consider to be the best tight end in this years class. Pegged to be a late first round selection, it's the Notre Dame playmaker Tyler Eifert. 6'6, 250 lb's and a 4.68 forty yard time. Surprisingly he wasn't a highly regarded recruit and only had a handful of offers from top schools, he redshirted his freshman year and gradually became one of the most reliable targets in the country. He finished top in the nation in 2011 for catches by a tight end with 63, and then led Notre Dame with receptions in 2012 with 50 receptions on way to winning the Mackey Award, given to the nations top tight end. Throughout his time with Notre Dame he has had to work with inconsistency at the QB position, unlike Kyle Rudolph who worked predominantly with Jimmy Clausen. Over the last three years he has worked with Dayne Crist, Tommy Rees and finally Everett Golson - hardly a list of the college elite.
Weight: 250 lb's
40 Time: 4.68 seconds (Top Performer)
Bench: 22 Reps (Top Performer)
Vertical: 35.50 (Top Performer)
Broad: 9'11" (Top Performer)
Shuttle: 4.32 (Top Performer)
60 yard: 11.52 (Top Performer)
3 Cone: 6.92 (Top Performer)
Has an excellent frame and good speed for his size. Has elite hands and doesn't drop footballs if he is given a chance to come down with it. Shows a good release off the line, great footwork and his route running is very refined for a tight end. Shows good body control, and physicality in crowds. Has lined up in-line but also can line him up outside, and was split wide in the Championship game. Has good leaping ability and often comes down with the ball in traffic. Makes good adjustments to poorly thrown footballs. Plays physical off the line and uses his hands and size to beat press coverage. Made significant strides in his run blocking in 2012 and plays to the whistle. Doesn't mind taking a hit over the middle, fights through tackles to gain the extra yards.
His production at Notre Dame has been good, he owns just about every receiving record, i can't help think he should be leaving with more touchdowns, should be a bigger red zone target. Will need to continue to work on his run blocking and pass protection when required. Doesn't have elite speed and his long strides may not allow him the separation he got in college. Although he doesn't have many drops, when he does it's through lack of focus rather than talent.
As a Notre Dame fan, it's always difficult to stay impartial when evaluating ND players. However I don't think many will disagree with the assessment above. You love the combination of size, speed and body control. Route running and toughness, as well as his leadership qualities as a captain on the team. I think he'll be an above average player in the NFL. Will he be elite? If he lands in the right spot, sure - most drafts have him going to the Bears, and I think he could do some real damage in the Windy City. He may even find himself in Atlanta, and with Matt Ryan he'll be in heaven.
Would I draft him for the Jets?
I would love to see Eifert don the Jets jersey next year and I think he'd bring a lot to the table. However the price is just too high, he won't fall out of the first and number 9 is way too high. If he fell to the 2nd - would I be interested? Sure I would, but that won't happen. He is a great talent but with all the holes we have to fill, spending a first (by trading down) is too high a price to pay. I wish him all the best, but I doubt it'll be with the Jets.