Over the next month or so, we’ll be looking at each of the Jets’ draft picks and undrafted free agent signings in detail. We continue today with a breakdown of their fourth pick, Trevon Wesco.
The 23-year old tight end Wesco is listed at 6’3” and 267 pounds and was selected by the Jets in the fourth round. Wesco was a first-team all-Big 12 selection last season after having caught 26 passes for 366 yards and a touchdown. However, prior to last year he only had two career catches and was known more for his blocking.
Wesco was a football star and all-state basketball player at high school, but injury forced him to go down the junior college route.
In his first year playing for Lackawanna, he caught just five passes and then didn’t play at all in his second year, as he redshirted due to another injury.
At that point, he transferred to West Virginia, although in his first two seasons with the Mountaineers, he caught just two passes, while being employed primarily as a blocker.
In his senior year, Wesco began to be featured more in the passing game and ended up with 26 catches for 366 yards. That included a break-out game against TCU where he led the team with 86 yards on a career-high five catches, including his only touchdown of the season. In all, he had 19 catches for 279 yards and a touchdown over the last six games.
Wesco, who was named as a first-team all-Big 12 selection, attended the Senior Bowl and scouting combine during the pre-draft process.
The Jets traded down twice in the fourth round before selecting Wesco with the 121st overall pick.
Now let’s take a look at what Wesco brings to the table, divided into categories.
Wesco fits the profile of a blocking tight end perfectly as he has nice size and long arms. He also posted 24 bench press reps at the combine, which was the highest mark for the tight end position.
He’s not particularly fast, having run a 4.89 at the combine in the 40-yard dash and his vertical jump and agility numbers were below average, although he posted a solid broad jump.
Wesco has the versatility to play an inline role, as an H-back or in motion and has also lined up a lot in the fullback position, both behind the quarterback and in an offset I-formation.
He didn’t play much out wide or in the slot until the last few games of last season but had a couple of catches from the slot down the stretch and that may be an area where he could have some unexplored abilities.
While he averaged over 12 yards per catch in 2018, Wesco has yet to prove he can be any kind of downfield threat as he lacks the speed and burst to get any separation. Nearly all of his catches last year were on underneath dump-offs or out in the flat. However, he’s leaked out down the seam from time to time.
His longest catch - and only touchdown - of last season was on this play where he did leak out down the field, albeit only because of a blown coverage.
As noted, most of Wesco’s catches came on easy dump-offs, so he didn’t get many chances to show much route-running ability, although there were flashes of untapped potential during Senior Bowl practices.
On this play he breaks back to the football sharply with his man pinned on his back for an easy first down conversion.
Although Wesco had an 87 percent catch rate last year, that’s not really all that impressive given how easy most of these catches were. He only had a couple of contested catches and was still guilty of a few drops.
However, he has shown some ability to reach out and snag passes outside his frame and, despite having comparatively small hands, he regularly practices one-handed catches and made this one in a game.
Yards after the catch
Tight ends can still be extremely productive as a safety valve and dump-off option, especially if they can turn upfield and create some yardage after the catch. Wesco excels at this, as his size and power make him tough to bring down.
He has a good knack for slipping the first tackle and getting some momentum down the field, regularly turning dump-offs in the flat into easy 8-10 yard gains.
With his size, you’d think Wesco could be an effective red zone target. He showed evidence of this on the only catch of his first year at West Virginia.
However, that’s the only red zone touchdown he’s had in his college career. Then again, he did have six two-point conversions, including five in his first year at Lackawanna.
Wesco’s most effective contributions in the red zone have tended to come as a blocker in goal line packages.
Wesco’s contributions as a run blocker, both from the fullback position and from tight end are impressive. He uses his length well, is aggressive and can light his man up without being overly reckless or error-prone.
Unlike many tight ends who grade out well as a blocker but actually are getting most of their positive grades blocking smaller defensive backs out of the slot, Wesco has shown he can mix it up with bigger defenders at the point of attack.
He gets a consistent surge in the running game and is someone you can run behind in short yardage situations.
Wesco doesn’t just do his damage in the trenches though, he’s effective at getting out into space and locking onto a target.
Wesco could still improve in some areas. Improvements in his hand placement could help him to sustain blocks for longer and better footwork might prevent him from lunging into blocks when driving forwards, which good defensive players will be able to exploit by shedding the block.
Wesco has some good experience in pass protection, often getting assignments where he was either the spare man in pass protection or tasked with coming across the formation to pick up a rush from the opposite edge.
He didn’t give up many pressures, although he was late to get over a couple of times when blocking on the far side of the formation. The only sack he gave up was this one, although it was a pretty bad one.
Wesco has only contributed as a blocker on the kick-off return unit while at West Virginia, but he graded out well in that role. The Mountaineers didn’t have much success in the return game as a team last year though, with no 40-yard returns.
At Lackawanna, his bio indicates that he once attempted and missed an extra point.
As a blocker, Wesco shows some ability to transition from assignment to assignment and identify his target in space. While pass protecting, he generally has good awareness when picking up the blitz.
Wesco’s limited usage in the passing game has so far not shown much evidence of instincts in terms of finding open areas or improvisation.
He doesn’t seem to make many mental errors, although he was called for one false start penalty last season.
Wesco has been praised for his selfless, team-first attitude and doesn’t seem to have any red flags in respect of his character.
He was a disciplined player at West Virginia, as he had just six penalties in his three seasons.
Wesco had to redshirt his sophomore year at Lackawanna due to a knee injury and also saw his college career get off to a slow start because of a torn meniscus while in his senior year at high school. Injuries haven’t been an issue since that time.
Wesco’s versatility should bring a lot of options to the Jets. While Adam Gase offenses don’t use a fullback very often, Wesco is capable of handling those assignments. However, the role they’ve most likely earmarked for him is the blocking tight end.
He will face competition from Eric Tomlinson for that job, but seems likely to beat out the veteran based on potential alone.
Wesco has a good chance to have a solid career as a blocking specialist. His film is very impressive and that’s not something you see from many tight end prospects these days with the proliferation of spread attacks.
He’s more of an unknown quantity as a pass-catching option, but the improvements he displayed in his final season are hopefully a strong sign of what’s to come. Even as an occasional safety valve, he can be a productive contributor in the passing game and his ability to stay in and pass protect as well adds to his potential value in that area.
While a blocking tight end and occasional pass catching threat doesn’t seem like great value for a fourth round pick, if he can be a good one, then this pick has a decent chance of being worth the investment.