Entering the 2020 season, the New York Jets have a lot of questions around quarterback Sam Darnold. Will Le’Veon Bell rebound after a disappointing 2019 season? Can Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims make up for the loss of Robby Anderson? Will the new-look offensive line give Darnold the protection he needs? With all this up in the air, there is one thing for sure – the tight end unit can change the entire offense.
2020 New York Jets: Tight Ends Preview
The Starter: Chris Herndon
At the end of the 2018 season, Sam Darnold finished as strong as any quarterback. One of the biggest reasons was due to the threat of fellow rookie Chris Herndon roaming the middle. The fourth-round pick put up 157 yards on 11 receptions, giving the Jets a threat they had not had in years at tight end. Finishing the season with 502 yards and four touchdowns, Herndon came into his own as a tight end, showing his well-rounded game.
Entering 2019, Herndon was supposed to be a key piece in Darnold’s development in his second year. Instead, a four-game suspension and lingering injuries limited him to just one game all season. Herndon’s return will benefit both the passing game in the red zone but give the Jets arguably their best blocking tight end back too. At 6-4 and 253lbs, Darnold is going to love having Herndon back on the field this season.
When on the field, Herndon has flashed the potential to be a top tight end in the league. Except he could not last season. First, a DWI incident in January 2018 led him to be suspended the first four-game last year. Upon his return, a hamstring injury kept him out until Week 10, when he then suffered a season-ending rib injury. Herndon has always battled injuries dating back to college, although if he can stay on the field, the talent is there.
The Backup: Ryan Griffin
With Herndon injured last season, it left the Jets tight end group irrelevant. Or so they thought. In Herndon’s place came veteran Ryan Griffin, who wound up proving to be one of the Jets’ top weapons. Despite a slow start, Griffin finished with 320 yards and five touchdowns, providing a big red zone threat. Griffin will be 30-years old this season, and likely will return to being Herndon’s backup. Although after the year he had in 2019, Griffin is bound to have a big role in Gang Green’s offense in 2020.
The Bubble: Daniel Brown, Ross Travis, and Trevon Wesco
Chris Herndon and Ryan Griffin are going to be the primary duo at tight end for the Jets in 2020. Behind them, it will be a battle. Veterans Daniel Brown, Ross Travis, and former fourth-round pick Trevon Wesco will all look to grab the third tight end spot. The Jets signed Brown to a one-year deal last off-season, bringing in another veteran presence. The 28-year old tight end started five games for the Jets last season when Griffin was injured, although he struggled in run blocking. Joining him is Travis, who in four seasons has seen limited action so far. The former Indianapolis Colts tight end is a solid receiver who offers little in blocking. Whereas second-year pro Wesco looks to rebound after an underwhelming rookie year. Known for his versatility at tight end/fullback, Wesco was underwhelming in the passing game as both a blocker and receiver. Each of these three excels in different dimensions of the game, so it will be interesting to watch which sticks to the roster.
Last Word on the 2020 New York Jets Preview: Tight Ends
The Jets offense has a lot to work out around Sam Darnold this season and who knows how long it can take things to get in sync. But with the return of Herndon and Griffin, the Jets should be set with their best tight end duo in years. Not only will the pair open up the middle of the field and red zone, but improve blocking upfront. Nevertheless, neither is known for a clean bill of health, making the competition for the third spot very important. Either way, the Jets should be excited for their tight ends this season.
Stay tuned for the next article in the 2020 New York Jets Preview series with interior offensive lineman!
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