If you can find that athletic tight end capable of stretching the field vertically and catching everything in sight, your teams offensive firepower takes a giant leap to the next level. The Jets hope they've found that in 2014 2nd round selection Jace Amaro. He had a very positive rookie season and his potential is limitless if we can find consistent quarterback play.
The tight end position is very promising at the moment, but it hasn't always been that way. The Jets have invested first round draft picks in the decision, however rarely has the pick provided first round production. I have left Jerome Barkum out of this list due to him being listed with the wide receivers yesterday.
In their history, the New York Jets have drafted 4 tight ends in the first round of the NFL draft, excluding Barkum. Over the last 23 years, the Jets have tried to find that difference maker but failed miserably. Lets take a stroll down memory lane, this one may be more uncomfortable than the previous receivers feature.
New York Jets: First Round Tight Ends:
2008: #30 - Dustin Keller
2000: #27 - Anthony Becht
1995: #9 - Kyle Brady
1992: #15 Johnny Mitchell
As with the wide receivers, we'll go through these players individually, but already you know there are a few mistakes in here. The players listed above played a collective 18 years for the Jets, with 623 receptions for 7075 yards and 60 touchdowns.Just as an example, someone like Jason Witten has 943 receptions, 10,502 yards and 57 touchdowns. So that gives you an idea about how badly we've bombed with highly drafted tight ends.
Dustin Keller - 5 years as a Jet, 241 receptions, 2876 yards and 17 TD's.
When we drafted Dustin Keller #30 overall, I thought he was going to be the next great TE. I had watched a lot of his tape at Purdue and he seemed to epitomize the modern day tight end. He was fast and strong with good hands and comfortable running every route. He wasn't a bust by any means, a late first round pick who gave you over a 800 yard season is a valuable guy. He played well with Brett Favre as a rookie and quickly became Mark Sanchez's safety blanket. He was never the red-zone threat that I imagined he would be, and he struggled with niggling injuries.
Dustin Keller was a key component of the 2009 and 2010 AFC Championship teams, however he missed 8 games in his contract year and the Jets never made a big push to keep him. The Dolphins needed a tight end to replace Anthony Fasano who bolted for Kansas and they picked up Keller.Unfortunately he injured himself in the pre-season and never actually took a snap for the Dolphins. He is currently a free agent having not played football in 2013 or 2014, the sad fact it, his career is likely done.
Anthony Becht - 5 years as a Jet, 133 receptions, 1164 yards and 17 TD's
Becht wasn't a terrible tight end, after all he played in the league for 11 years. However he just wasn't a first round tight end. The Jets had an abundance of first round draft picks in 2000 and selected Becht along with Abraham, Ellis and Pennington. Anthony got off to a sluggish start but that was consistent with rookie tight ends, in year two he made game winning catches in back to back weeks and finished the season with 5 touchdowns on 321 yards. He was a decent blocker and an OK receiver, if you would have drafted him in the 2nd or 3rd round, you'd probably be pretty happy with his production.
When he became an unrestricted free agent in 2005, there were several teams who were aggressively recruiting him and the Jets were one of them, they wanted to keep Anthony. However after speaking to Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay, he decided to sign on the dotted line, ending his career with the Jets. I always liked Anthony Becht and he's always stayed around the franchise in terms of keeping an interest and media interviews.
Kyle Brady - 4 years as a Jet, 93 receptions, 949 yards and 10 TD's
Oh dear, a top 10 selection who recorded less than 100 receptions, less than 1,000 yards and only 10 TD's. "We want Sapp, we want Sapp", the fans knew what they wanted, the Jets looked like they were going to make the right decision, drafting the player who would go on to become of the most dominant defensive lineman in the history of the game. Instead, with a top 10 selection, the Jets decided to take Kyle Brady. It's almost laughable how bad a selection this was.
Only 3 years earlier, the Jets had selected Johnny Mitchell who was still on the roster. Kyle Brady was a great blocker, in fact I can safely say he was one of the finest blocking tight ends I've ever seen. However if you're a top 10 selection you need to be a dominant blocker and receiver and he was raw as a receiver. He had concentration lapses, he looked as though he struggled to get on the same page as any other Jet.
It was an appalling selection that really set the Jets back. Brady became a free agent in 1999 and signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, he would play 13 years in the league, but only 4 of them were with the team that drafted him.
Johnny Mitchell - 4 years as a Jet, 156 receptions, 2086 yards and 16 TD's
Mitchell was put in a very unfortunate position, he got off to a slow start but then started to show promise. In year two he had 39 receptions, 630 yards and 6 touchdowns, a year after he had 749 yards and 4 touchdowns. Then the Jets selected Kyle Brady, for some unknown reason. Mitchell was starting to show promise and he was becoming more consistent with experience. The year Brady was drafted, Mitchell still put up 497 yards and 5 touchdowns but then was gone, never to be a featured tight end again.
The Jets dedicated a lot of time to developing Kyle Brady rather than Johnny Mitchell and when he moved to another franchise, he could never quite get it going. He dropped passes and he wasn't the quickest tight end you'll ever see, but there was talent there. I often wonder how things would have been different had the Jets selected Sapp and not Brady and spent their time developing Mitchell.
Our success with tight ends hasn't been one to write home about, New York,New York hasn't been Tight End, Tight End for a long long time. I hope that Jace Amaro develops into the guy we all want him to be, but we've made some horrible mistakes with Brady and Mitchell to an extent and Becht never gave first round production. I don't think Dustin Keller was a bad selection considering he was taken at the bottom of round 1.