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Scouting Jets tight end Ross Travis

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Cleveland Browns v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Now that the season is over, we’ll be looking at the players the Jets have signed to futures deals since the end of the season. However, before we start on those, we have to review tight end Ross Travis, who the team claimed off waivers right before the season finale.

The 26-year old is listed at 6’6” and 248 pounds and has been in the league since signing with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2015. Travis, who didn’t play college football, has started seven games and caught 14 passes in his NFL career so far but was released by the Colts before the season finale.

Background

Travis only played college football in his freshman year at high school, and headed to Penn State on a basketball scholarship where he played in a rotational role at power forward.

At the end of his basketball career, Travis was approached with the opportunity to work out for NFL teams and attended PSU’s pro day. He didn’t catch on with a team after the draft but the Chiefs signed him to their practice squad at the start of the season.

Having spent most of his rookie year on the Chiefs practice squad, Travis found his way onto their active roster in his second season and would ultimately start three games for them, although he only caught three passes for 15 yards.

In 2017, he made three more starts for the Chiefs and caught five passes for 43 yards, but was released with four games to go and picked up by the Colts. He caught two passes in four games with Indianapolis.

Having missed the entire 2018 season due to a preseason injury, Travis was released in final cuts by the Colts, but they re-signed him later in the year and he caught four passes in three games with them. The Jets claimed him off waivers when he was released before the season finale, although he didn’t practice with the team or make the trip to Buffalo.

Now let’s take a look at what Travis brings to the table, divided into categories.

Measurables/Athleticism

Travis displayed impressive athleticism on the basketball court, which is why teams felt he might be able to make the transition to pro football. He was a rebounding specialist who threw down plenty of dunks.

He obviously has excellent height and length, having been listed at 6’7” in some places. He also turned some heads by reportedly running a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash during his pro day workout. That would have been one of the fastest times by a tight end had he attended the 2015 combine.

Usage

Travis has shown the versatility to line up in the slot or out wide in addition to playing as a conventional tight end and has made some plays when he’s done so. The Colts in particular run a lot of sets where their tight end lines up next to the edge of the line but in a receiver stance.

He’s also occasionally lined up in the backfield.

Deep threat

Although he’s not really a threat to get behind the defense, Travis has shown an ability to get down the seam and make plays down the field.

His longest play in preseason or regular season action was this 39-yard play at the end of the 2018 preseason finale. Unfortunately, he suffered a season-ending injury at the end of the play:

Routes

While you might expect Travis to be raw as a route runner, Andy Reid noted that he has an ability to get open. Being a rebounding specialist in college means he has a natural ability to use his size to box out smaller defenders.

Hands

Travis has a big catch radius and has impressed his coaches with his natural hands, although he’s yet to make any highlight reel type plays during in-game action.

Nevertheless, he’s shown some ability to go up and get it or make one-handed catches during practice.

Despite this, he’s caught less than 60 percent of his targets in regular season and preseason action. He only had one drop though:

Red zone

Travis only has one touchdown in preseason action, which came from outside the red zone, and none in the regular season. However, with his size he could be a viable red zone target and he has had some success in that role during training camp practices.

Yards after the catch

Travis runs well but lacks the ability to break tackles very often. However, he has a good knack for turning upfield and picking up a few extra yards after the catch.

On this play, the Chiefs tried to scheme up a touchdown for him in the red zone but he got stuffed for no gain:

Ball security has been an issue for him, as he lost one fumble at the end of a play where he made a downfield catch. He also had this fumble on a play where he had a rare broken tackle:

Blocking

Travis is not a natural blocker but shows willing in the running game. However, he has had three penalties - two for holding and one for a block in the back - in his limited work and even when he makes he block he can skirt a little close to the edge.

He has hardly ever been required to stay in and pass protect either in preseason or regular season action.

Physicality

Coming from a basketball background, Travis has had to get used to contact but shows an ability to make his size advantage count when matched up with a smaller defender:

Special Teams

Travis has mostly contributed as a blocker on the kick return units during his NFL career so far and is inconsistent but capable of making good blocks within that role. On this play, Travis is lined up near the right hashmark and sets up to angle his man away from the return man then drives him out of the play:

Travis has also been called for an illegal block in the back on a kick return on two occasions, though.

He has had limited reps in a kick coverage role, but did contribute on this play that ended up in a turnover:

His lack of contributions on special teams was cited as one of the main reasons he was released by the Chiefs in 2017.

Instincts

Although he lacks experience, Travis has been praised for how well he picked up the offense. Reid described his retention as phenomenal.

In the passing game, he has shown some ability so settle into an open area underneath for an easy catch:

Attitude

Travis has brought a good work ethic, determination and some toughness in his efforts to make it as a pro football player. His coaches have been impressed with his approach to the game and there have been multiple reports of him putting extra work in on the JUGS machine.

Injuries

Travis missed the entire 2018 season after suffering a torn ACL but made some contributions in the following season despite not making it through final cuts. He was re-signed and made contributions towards the end of last year.

He was unavailable for the final game of the season but this was attributed to a coach’s decision.

Scheme Fit

One of the main reasons the Jets targeted Travis might have been assistant general manager Rex Hogan, who was in a front office role with the Colts when they first brought Travis in.

He’s more of a pass catcher than a blocker, but there’s not much room for him on next year’s roster if Ryan Griffin, Chris Herndon and Trevon Wesco all return.

Former teammates of Travis include Henry Anderson, Tarell Basham and Matthias Farley.

Conclusions

The Jets claimed Travis even though they knew he couldn’t play for them in the final game of the year. That suggests they wanted to get the jump on any other teams who might have been keen to sign him to a futures deal. Travis is under contract for 2020 according to OverTheCap.com.

Although next year will be his sixth, Travis is still only 26 and may still have some untapped potential due to being such a late starter. He does possess some good attributes and looks the part despite being raw and inexperienced.

This is exactly the kind of low-risk move that a team like the Jets should be making, but Travis is going to be a long-shot to contribute next year.