Over the last few years, the New York Jets have been searching endlessly for an impactful tight end, and the team may have found what it has been looking for in Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
You’d have to go back to the 2008 NFL Draft when the New York Jets drafted Dustin Keller with the 30th overall pick to find the last time the Jets possessed a legitimate threat at the tight end position. Not only a legitimate threat but one with visible potential.
Keller performed well in his rookie season, finishing with 48 receptions, 535 yards and three touchdowns. He followed that up with 45 receptions, 522 yards and two touchdowns in 2009 before leading the team in receptions in 2010 and 2011. In 2011, Keller had a break out year, finishing with 815 yards and five touchdowns.
The Purdue alum was a member of both the 2009 and 2010 Jets AFC championship teams, and he served as a key part of the offense in those years.
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Since then, however, the team has lacked a sure thing at the tight end position.
Jeff Cumberland spent six seasons with Gang Green between 2010 and 2015, and while he showed signs of success at times, he never really panned out. In March of 2016, he was released by the team.
The Jets also tried to fill the void by drafting Jace Amaro in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. After a successful college career at Texas A&M, Amaro played relatively well in his rookie season with the Jets, but injuries ultimately led to the team waiving him in September 2016.
Clearly, the Jets have had trouble finding a reliable tight end, but that may no longer be the case. In September 2016, the Jets claimed Austin Seferian-Jenkins off waivers. Throughout the 2016 season, the 25-year-old brought in just 10 receptions resulting in 110 yards.
He was then suspended for the first two weeks of the 2017 season after violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. Once again, it had appeared as if the Jets had failed in their search for a productive tight end.
Since returning from his suspension, however, Seferian-Jenkins has begun to prove himself. In four games, he’s brought in 23 receptions, which is the second most on the team behind only Jermaine Kearse, who has emerged as the team’s top wide receiver. He’s also picked up 152 yards while scoring two touchdowns.
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In Week 6 against the New England Patriots, Seferian-Jenkins provided much-needed offense, as he brought in eight receptions for 46 yards and one touchdown. He also had a touchdown late in the game overturned due to a controversial call made by the referees. Despite the loss, the Jets put on one of their best performances of 2017 thus far, and Seferian-Jenkins played a key role in that.
He has great size, standing 6’6″ and weighing 258 pounds, but he’s also showed the speed and ability to catch the ball needed to succeed at the highest level.
In a rebuilding year, the Jets have performed better than most had expected them too. Many young players have begun to step up, and Seferian-Jenkins has begun to show that he could very well be the Jets’ tight end for the foreseeable future.