Breaking Down The Potential New York Jets Draftees: Tight End

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Oct 19, 2013; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish tight end Troy Niklas (85) catches a pass in the second quarter against the USC Trojans at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sport

Greg Peshek of has been putting out metrics for each position that helps people understand what are the important traits of that position and how the top draft eligible prospects performed in those metrics. Previously I analyzed his articles on the wide receiver position which is a position of need for the Jets. You can read that here. Peshek has penned another terrific piece this time about another Jets position of need, tight end. You can read that here. With Kellen Winslow and Jeff Cumberland both free agents the Jets will need to add at least two tight ends to go along with Zach Sudfeld and there are a few in the draft that would fit the bill. Although Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News is reporting that the Jets are “bullish” on Cumberland and are negotiating to bring him back the Jets will still need a game breaker at the position.

Peshek compares Jace Amaro of Texas Tech, Eric Ebron of North Carolina, Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Washington, Richard Rodgers of California and Troy Niklas of Notre Dame. C.J. Fiedorowicz of Iowa is not included because he was used primarily as a blocker but his Combine and Pro Day workouts will show whether the athletic ability he has can translate into a greater receiving role.

The first metric measured is how far downfield do they catch the ball. Getting free down the seam and exploiting mismatches are a must for the tight ends today who are so much more athletic than their predecessors. They also need to be the quarterback’s safety valve, able to make the tough catch for the first down. The player with the most interesting chart is one that is known more for his blocking, Troy Niklas of Notre Dame. Nearly 72% of his passes are caught between 6-20 yards. No other player had more than 50% of his passes caught in that area. The best deep threat was Seferian-Jenkins who had nearly 43% of his passes caught 11 yards or more down the field with the highest amount of passes over 20 yards at 5.7%. Amaro caught 46% of his passes between 1-5 yards showing he can get open in tight spaces but only 23% of his passes were over 11 yards, the lowest of the tight ends measured. Ebron caught the ball both underneath with 32% of his passes caught between 1-5 yards down the field but also did well on longer routes with 33% caught between 11-20 yards downfield. Rodgers caught no balls over 20 yards and 50% of his passes between 1-5 yards.

Next, a combination of the yards down the field where they caught it is added to their yards after the catch.  That is a total measure of the yardage they create every time they catch the ball. Despite having the lowest yards downfield, Eric Ebron led the field with a combined number of 15.76 yards thanks to his group leading 8.84 yards after the catch. Ebron was put in position to catch the ball and turn up the field and make things happen and he did. Troy Niklas was just behind him at 15.5 combined yards using his group leading 9.09 yards down the field to go with 6.41 yards after the catch. The 6.41 yards after the catch were 3rd only behind Ebron and Rodgers. The most surprising number was Seferian-Jenkins who had only 3.4 yards after the catch despite his athleticism and the fact that 25% of his catches were on screens.

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Tags: 2014 Nfl Draft Austin Seferian-jenkins New York Jets Tight End

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  • Paul Newbold

    Interesting piece, thanks for posting it. I’m a huge Ebron advocate for the Jets at #18, but would be very happy to grab Amaro, if Ebron were gone. As I’ve said before, it’s been way too long since the Jets possessed a true play making TE!!! I like Niklas’s game as well, he’d make a great pairing with one of the top tight ends + Cumberland, not sure where he’s projected to go in the draft, but if he could be had in the mid rounds, the more the better! I know the Jets are WR needy, but they can add free agents and address WR in the second or third in the draft in my opinion.

    • Craig Hoffman

      Reading between the lines from what Rex said about tight ends today I say they go with a player like Niklas ideally or if they miss out then grab C.J. Fiedorowicz later on. Rex had blocking ability and strength as a part of what he is looking for at the position. The player they grab will let Cumberland play more in the slot and worry less about his blocking. Seferian-Jenkins also fits the mold but he has a recent DUI and attitude problems allegedly so I don’t know if they are willing to take a character risk so early in the draft.

      • Paul Newbold

        Assuming they keep Cumberland that is. Cumberland has made some splashes, but his blocking is questionable, and he has his share of dropped balls as well. I just don’t see him being the play maker at TE that the Jets desperately need. I think it all depends on the asking price Cumberland envisions. If its too high, I’d rather see them go with two young TE’s that can grow along with Geno Smith. Besides, the Jets could decide to let Cumberland walk and upgrade him with a FA. It sure is developing into an interesting off season to watch!

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  • Van Hazard

    Agree with taking Ebron or Amaro at #18 for Jets, but Niklas seems to fare surprisingly well against the TE competition in this draft and might warrant a closer look for Jets in second or even third round if Jets go for a WR with their first pick. Matters little whether Idzik grabs a TE or WR first, but he would be wise to get a top prospect at each of these position with his first two picks.

    • Craig Hoffman

      The top 5 tight ends to me at least are all talented players that would do well here for the Jets. Ebron, Amaro, Niklas, Seferian-Jenkins and Fiedorowicz have differing skill sets but ones that would work. I personally think if Ebron is there at 18 you take him but I would wait to see how Amaro fares in the interviews before I make him my 1st round pick. He has a 2012 arrest for credit card fraud to answer for. I think if Ebron isn’t there I would wait to get Niklas in round 2. Niklas has a very well rounded skill set and could definitely help in the running and passing game plus he is 6’7″ which is certainly helpful in the red zone. If they miss on Niklas I would turn to Fiedorowicz late in round 3 or early in round 4.

      From the wide receiver viewpoint I think the Jets will fill at least 1 receiver position in free agency and whether that player is more of a route-runniung possession receiver type (Edelman) or a yards after the catch guy (Tate) will determine who they draft to complement them. Watkins is out of the question he will be long gone. I like Mike Evans ability to catch poor throws, be a big red zone target, catch the ball down the field and still have one of the higher YAC numbers. Odell Beckham is the other receiver I’m really high on because he can beat press coverage and get open quickly, he is extremely fast and runs good routes. 83% of his catches went for 1st downs which is an insane number. There are so many good receivers it is hard to go wrong whether it is in the 1st or 2nd round.

      • Van Hazard

        I like Evans, too, though one could make the argument that Evans is a lot like the faster TE’s in this draft…Ebron, Amaro and Seferian-Jenkins, and that all of them are also a lot like Stephan Hill…except perhaps they might run better routes and catch more balls. That’s especially true of Evans, Ebron and Amaro. Benjamin falls into same mode,

        All these guys are big, fast and great red zone targets who can also go deep, though some have better hands and work ethic than others. My point here is that Jets don’t need a stable of the same type receivers. They need diversity, just as they need several really good receivers rather than one truly great one who opposing D’s can take out of games. So if you get Evans or Ebron or Amaro early you’re probably looking for other skillsets from other receivers.

        Which is precisely where WR’s like Matthews, Robinson, Beckham, Landry and Abberedis come in. Probably all are better receivers than anyone currently on Jets roster, and would be nice complements to Evans or Ebron, etc. I like Lee’s routes, speed and hands, but am worried about his knees, etc.

        Re FA WR, I personally like Maclin more than Tate or Decker. He’s cheaper, is more explosive, and is familiar with Marty’s offensive schemes. Question with him is his health and history of being injured. Jones might be an option here, too. I don’t like the way Nicks dogged it all season, and Sanders is too one-dimensional and drops too many balls.

        IF (always a big IF when talking about the Jets) Idzik adds Ebron/Amaro, then a Matthews/Robinson/Beckham, etc., and say a Maclin/Tate/Jones to go along with Kerley, Nelson and yes, probably Hill, who I don’t think the Jets are quite ready to give up on, that’s suddenly a very diverse and flexible receiving corps that gives Geno and Marty multiple weapons and play-makers. Even better if they can get Cumberland back for reasonable money.

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