If you read the reports, it’s widely accepted that the Jets tight end position is the weakest on the roster, at least that’s the perception from the outside.
The fact of the matter is that the Jets TE position is the great unknown. For three very different reasons:
- The Jets have a lot of unproven commodities at the position. You have to look at potential talent over proven production.
- The Jets don’t even know who the QB will be. It revolves around the offensive system as a whole, but some QB’s throw to their TE’s more than others.
- Jeremy Bates is the offensive coordinator, we only have one year to base our opinion of his system on, and that’s just simply not enough.
So let’s break it down by each point. Who could potentially be suiting up for the Jets at the TE position in 2018? if you look at Bates time in Seattle, he often used the two TE system with both John Carlson and former Jet Chris Baker. The Jets currently have six TE’s on their books:
- Chris Herndon (4th round draft pick 2018)
- Bucky Hodges (6th round draft pick 2017)
- Jordan Leggett (5th round draft pick 2017)
- Neal Sterling (7th round draft pick 2015)
- Eric Tomlinson (Undrafted in 2015)
- Clive Walford (3rd round draft pick 2015)
If you look at the production from all six players combined, you have three that have yet to make an NFL reception. Between the other three (Sterling, Tomlinson and Walford) you have just 96 receptions for 1,081 yards and 7 touchdowns. being Frank, only Walford has put up any kind of meaningful statistics ( 70 receptions, 768 yards and 6 touchdowns). The competition at the tight end position will be fierce. Herndon is the most talented of the bunch, Walford has the best history and Leggett will be out to prove his worth after missing his rookie season with a knee injury. When you have a lot of competition, it tends to bring out the best in players, both Herndon and Leggett have been accused of not playing at full speed, but they’ll need to if they hope to make a difference.
Last year with McCown under centre for much of the season, ASJ was targeted often. Despite missing time and only starting 10 games, he was targeted 74 times, making 50 catches for 357 yards and 3 touchdowns. If McCown starts again this year, I’d still expect him to look to the TE often, although the offensive line should be better giving the QB more time to find targets downfield. if it’s Sam Darnold under centre, I’d expect him to look to the TE often as a safety blanket.
Finally Jeremy Bates showed a tendency to use the TE position when in Seattle. The 2010 Seahawks and the 2018 Jets are very different, and everything you read about Bates makes you believe he’ll sculpt his offence to the strengths of his team and right now the TE position is not thought of as a strength. When Bates took over the offence in Seattle, the TE saw 77 targets, catching 40 of them for 434 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Both Leggett and Herndon flash extreme athletic ability, capable of those big plays. Herndon flashes speed on a 6’4 and 250lb frame while Leggett flashed his potential in the 2017 National Championship game against Alabama, catching 7 passes for 95 yards. Sleep on these guys if you want, but the Jets TE position could be significantly better than many expect.