Tight end Neal Sterling has his work cut out for him at a crowded situation in the positional group but could very well surprise many in training camp due to a new opportunity.
During free agency, the New York Jets lost their main tight end that stood out last season. Austin Seferian-Jenkins bolted via free agency to the Jacksonville Jaguars and left a void with the Jets. They’re hoping that Jordan Leggett and newly drafted Christopher Herndon can develop into decent tight ends to keep pushing the envelope on offense. Eric Tomlinson is another tight end but is primarily a blocker more than a play-making offensive threat.
Ideally, the Jets tight end situation has a lot of question marks since, besides Clive Walford, most are inexperienced and will likely have growing pains as they compete in training camp. Heading into this year’s training camp, there is a lot of hope that all these new and young players can round out a solid depth chart but there is one tight end that could potentially be a big surprise.
Towards the end of last year, tight end Neal Sterling showed some signs of hope. He looked sharp and made the most of the opportunities given to him. In 2017, Sterling totaled 82 receiving yards, six receptions, but failed to score a single touchdown. As a matter of fact, Sterling has yet to score a single touchdown in his three years in the NFL.
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A 7th Round draft pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2015 NFL Draft, Sterling never stood out from the rest but likely learned a thing or two every step of the way. With experience at tight end, fullback, and even wide receiver, Sterling could be a versatile weapon that new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates should be able to use in multiple ways.
That’s what it ultimately boils down to for Sterling, whether or not he can put everything together and shine in a positional group that could be lacking talent if things don’t work out with Leggett or Herndon. Leggett is coming off a severe knee injury and Herndon might be suspended to start the season due to his offseason arrest for DUI.
The opportunity will be there for Sterling but it’s time to prove that either he’s worth keeping around or to be blunt, be released for not being capable enough to get the job done. As Jets training camp is about to begin, all eyes will be on the tight end position and whether or not someone can separate themselves from the rest. Sterling is on the outside looking in due to a small sample size but such motivation could inspire him to be much more than just extra depth in the positional group.
Could Sterling ultimately be a big surprise during training camp? Well, if Leggett doesn’t pan out due to lingering injuries or Herdon doesn’t play up to par, Sterling could make the most out of the situation and move his way up the depth chart. Hopefully, things fall into place since, without Seferian-Jenkins anymore, the Jets might regret letting him leave sooner rather than later.