From the moment the 2021 NFL Draft ended, one thing was clear – the New York Jets were not committed to improving the tight end unit. From the offensive line to wide receiver, General Manager Joe Douglas made sure to add weapons around rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. However, after five games, it has become abundantly clear that neglecting the tight end position this off-season was the wrong move by the front office.
New York Jets Made a Mistake Not Upgrading at Tight End
Around the league, tight ends have taken on a bigger role over the past few years. Coming into the season, many thought the Jets would utilize the position more. After all, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur comes from San Francisco, a team that utilizes two tight ends often. For their 12 personnel formations in 2021, New York elected to go the stop-gap route at the position. A decision that has already backfired.
Jets Tight Ends Room Poorly Constructed
Currently, the Jets have five tight ends on the roster. The group is made up of veterans Tyler Kroft, Daniel Brown, and Ryan Griffin, as well as Kenny Yeboah, and part-time fullback Trevon Wesco. In training camp, the tight ends were seen often, building solid chemistry with Wilson. Except, the regular season is a completely different animal.
On the year, Jets tight ends have combined for just 14 receptions, totaling 97 yards and no touchdowns. Of the five tight ends on the roster, all those numbers stem from Kroft and Griffin. Both are quality players, who can contribute as receivers and blockers. Whether or not they have been effective is another story.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Jets tight end duo grades out among the bottom 12 tight ends in the league. Kroft has had a balanced season as a receiver and blocker, with grades hovering around 50.0. Meanwhile, Griffin ranks 70th out of 72 qualifying tight ends, only grading above 44.0 as a run blocker. Simply put, the Jets tight ends have not been good this season.
Jets Passed on Upgrades in Free Agency
Yes, the Jets made more important upgrades at other positions like receiver and offensive line. At the same time, the Jets missed out on a big-spending opportunity in free agency. At tight end, names like Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Kyle Rudolph, Dan Arnold, Jared Cook, and more were available. Yet, the Jets elected to go the band-aid route with Kroft, who has made his money as a blocker, not a receiver, in his career.
No Changes to Jets Tight Ends Anytime Soon
Taking a look at the Jets roster now, there is little that can be done to upgrade at the position. Outside of Kroft and Griffin, Daniel Brown is primarily a special team’s player and blocker. Yeboah is on and off the practice squad, and Wesco hasn’t panned out at tight end. Therefore, leaving LaFleur with no choice but to limit the amount of 12 personnel packages they use. Without a long-term option on the roster, don’t anticipate the Jets tight ends room to find their George Kittle in 2021.
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