When we selected Dustin Keller 30th overall in 2008, he was supposed to be the athletic freak who could take our offence to the next level. Unfortunately, although it came close at points, it never quite got there. Lets not forget that Keller did have a 815 yard, 5 touchdown season in 2011. So although he maybe never got to the standard we wanted, he was a valuable first round selection. I always wonder what may have happened, had he managed to avoid all those nagging injuries.
We resigned Jeff Cumberland to a three year, $3.7 million deal with $1 million guaranteed. However he hasn't shown he can be a consistent pass-catcher. So I find it hard to believe that we won[t select a TE at some point during this draft. Some think it may be in the first, but that will depend how the board falls. Below I have ranked the tight ends as I see them, feel free to agree, disagree and to leave your comments at the bottom.
Eric Ebron - North Carolina (Projected: Top 20)
Jace Amaro - Texas Tech (Projected: First Round)
My Take: There seems to be a lot of disagreement about the tight-ends this year, mainly because the position is quickly changing into a more receiver dominated position. Ebron does most of his damage from the slot, and the same can be said for Amaro, the in-line blocker is quickly fading and the athletic pass catching tight-end is the flavour of the moment. However if you have a quick, agile tight end being covered by linebackers and safeties, you're going to have success. Which is why we have these two guys rated as the top guys available. Ebron is just a fantastic athlete with excellent release, good speed, good hands and his route-running is superb for a tight end. He has quickness, agility and balance, and I would love to see him on this Jets team. Jace Amaro had a great year, and he's another guy who has good quickness and good hands. He doesn't have the speed of Ebron, but he is a better blocker. Some have Amaro falling to the 2nd round, personally I don't see it. I think both of these guys are gone by the mid-twenties.
TIER TWOTroy Niklas - Notre Dame (Projected: Round 2) Austin Seferian-Jenkins - Washington (Projected: Round 2)
My Take: If you want a good all-around tight-end then Troy Niklas is the best rounded TE in this class. He has excellent size with a big body, and big target in the red-zone. He is a good in-line and combo blocker and has the agility and balance to be a dangerous receiving threat. However he doesn't have the speed of the top two or the elusiveness after the catch. Like I said he's more of a traditional tight-end who still needs a little refinement, but he has a ton of potential. ASJ is a big man, a big target who has surprising quickness and agility for such a big guy. He has soft hands and catches the balls away from his frame. Why isn't be in the same league as Ebron or Amaro? mainly because his release off the line is only average and he needs to build up his speed, he can also round off his breaks making him a little easier to track down. However he is still a very good player. If we end up with ASJ in the second round, you won't hear any complaints from me.
C.J. Fiedorowicz - Iowa (Projected: Round 3/4)
My Take: I've placed C.J into a tier all by himself for two main reasons. One, he's not as good as Niklas or ASJ in my opinion, and two, he's much better than anyone left in the draft after this point. At 6'5, 265lb's he is a very big guy. However he has good agility, enough pace to threaten the seam and he catches the ball cleanly away from his body. He can adjust to poorly thrown balls and like Niklas, he is comfortable lining up in-line or split out. However he's down here in tier three for a reason. When I watched him I saw a guy who takes a while to get up to speed and in and out of breaks and he wasn't always going 100% all the time, inconsistent effort is a massive problem for me and I think it will be for a lot of coaches. He is raw as a blocker and has relied on his size too much. I'm looking forward to seeing him develop, but I'm not sure I want another developmental guy on the Jets.
Colt Lyerla - Oregon (Projected: Round 5-7)
Anthony Denham - Utah (Projected: Round 5-7)
Arthur Lynch - Georgia (Projected: Round 5-7)
Marcel Jensen - Fresno State (Projected: Round 5-7)
Richard Rodgers - California (Projected: Round 5-7)
Trey Burton - Florida (Projected: Round 5-7)
Blake Annen - Cincinnati (Projected: Round 5-7)
A.C Leonard - Tennessee State (Projected: Round 5-7)
Crockett Gilmore - Colorado State (Projected: Round 5-7)
My Take: I could have put a lot more guys in this bracket. There are probably around 40 tight ends who could potentially go anywhere from round five to round seven. I've picked out a few here who are likely to be more around the round 5 and 6 region, which means I can have another group below looking at the late, late guys. The cream of the crop here for me is Colt Lyerla. If he could have kept his nose clean and his concentration focused, I truly believe he would be in consideration as a first round prospect. He's had a rough upbringing but now is the time for him to turn it around. He's missed games due to suspension, missed classes, left the team for personal reasons, had his driving license revoked for four tickets in two years and pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine. Any team who takes him will need to be prepared to work hard to keep him on the straight and narrow. However he is so athletically gifted, he's balanced and fluid, elusive and as quick as Ebron. He has excellent hands and will compete for every single ball and every single yard. I want to take him, but the team need to weigh up the pros and the cons.
Denham has good size and strength but he is raw with his route-running. Jensen is a guy with good size and effective speed, he's quick off the line but he is very stiff with his cuts and breaks. Tre Burton and A.C Leonard don't have the size of the others but Burton is a fantastic route runner who has excellent recognition and as good a set of hands as anyone in this draft. Richard Rodgers is a guy who does everything well but nothing exceptional, he is a little tight in the hips and won't get much separation but he'll catch nearly everything you throw at him. Annan ran a 4.41 at his pro day and he's 6'4, 247lb's...not sure it shows up on tape, but that is fast.
Jake Murphy - Utah (Projected 7th-UDFA)
Xavier Grimble - USC (Projected 7th-UDFA)
Joe Don Duncan - Dixie State (Projected 7th-UDFA)
Alex Bayer - Bowling Green (Projected 7th-UDFA)
Nic Jacobs - McNeese State (Projected 7th-UDFA)
Asa Watson - North Carolina State (Projected 7th-UDFA)
Rob Blanchflower - Massachusetts (Projected 7th-UDFA)
My Take- Here we come down to the "will they get drafted" group. Jake Murphy is definitely a guy I like, mainly because he has good hands and is a good move blocker. Unfortunately he doesn't have the most athletic game and will struggle to get separation at the next level. I've never personally seen Rob Blanchflower, but I've heard he's a very good pass catching tight end. Joe Jon Duncan put up 35 reps on the bench which shows you how much strength he has. He has good awareness, soft hands and excellent recognition, once he gets going, he is very hard to bring down, and most of all, he is a very smart receiver, dropping down into zones and selling his routes to the corners. Last guy I want to mention is Alex Bayer of Bowling Green, mainly because he is an excellent in-line blocker and can offer you something on short patterns. If you want a good blocking tight end late in the draft to develop, then he may be your guys.
Best Overall Tight End: Eric Ebron, North Carolina
Mid-Round Gem: Colt Lyerla, Oregon
Late Round Sleeper: Joe Don Duncan, Dixie State