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New York Jets Draft 2019: In-depth analysis of the tight ends

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 06: Julian Huff #20 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers pushes Noah Fant #87 of the Iowa Hawkeyes out of bounds during the second quarter of the game on October 6, 2018 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 06: Julian Huff #20 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers pushes Noah Fant #87 of the Iowa Hawkeyes out of bounds during the second quarter of the game on October 6, 2018 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – OCTOBER 06: Julian Huff #20 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers pushes Noah Fant #87 of the Iowa Hawkeyes out of bounds during the second quarter of the game on October 6, 2018 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – OCTOBER 06: Julian Huff #20 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers pushes Noah Fant #87 of the Iowa Hawkeyes out of bounds during the second quarter of the game on October 6, 2018 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Welcome to part three in a series analyzing positional players for April’s 2019 NFL Draft.  The Jets must address numerous concerns and it never hurts to add a few more targets on offense.

The New York Jets have not had a great tight end history. Just look back at 20 years of first-round disappointments, from Johnny Mitchell and Kyle Brady to Anthony Becht and Dustin Keller. In the Rex Ryan era, the position was so unimportant that tight ends got relegated to a sixth-blocker role.

Trader Mike struck paydirt last draft with fourth-rounder Chris Herndon. The Miami product is a stud to build around in Sam Darnold‘s new arsenal. Perhaps an improved coaching staff can salvage penalty-waiting-to-happen Eric Tomlinson; if not, he’s got to go. Any combination of Neal Sterling and Clive Walford are professional fallbacks, but not an answer moving forward.

This front office really blew it last off-season waiving local Jersey kid TE/FB Anthony Firkser in camp — before he excelled last year pressed into duty for the Tennessee Titans.

The Jets need help in virtually every aspect of the game. Thanks to Herndon, this position is not at the top of the Florham Park to-do list.  The first tight ends may not get drafted until Day 2, so the top 50 prospects analyzed herein get divided by tiers, including intriguing prospects, highly-rated priority free agents and small college dreamers. C’mon Jets, let’s build this!

SANTA CLARA, CA – JANUARY 07: Irv Smith Jr. #82 of the Alabama Crimson Tide carries the ball against the Clemson Tigers in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Levi’s Stadium on January 7, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA – JANUARY 07: Irv Smith Jr. #82 of the Alabama Crimson Tide carries the ball against the Clemson Tigers in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Levi’s Stadium on January 7, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Top-Tier Talent

Noah Fant, Iowa — Kirk Ferentz, who’s developed many NFL stars, called this junior the most talented player he’s coached.  Will make a huge impact.

Irv Smith, Jr., Alabama — This son of a 1993 first-round Saints TE is already far better than his father. He’s just 20-years-old and still developing.

T.J. Hockenson, Iowa — This redshirt sophomore won the 2018 Mackey Award, for the nation’s top tight end. A rugged corn-fed blocking machine.

Josh Oliver, San Jose State — This Mountain West star crushed it at the Senior Bowl with his catching skills and run-game abilities.

Kaden Smith, Stanford — A NFL-ready specimen who by most accounts came out too early. But in 2-3 years, he could become a star.

Next: Day 3 Gems

SOUTH BEND, IN – OCTOBER 13: Alize Mack #86 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is ran out of bounds by Dennis Briggs #20 of the Pittsburgh Panthers in the second half at Notre Dame Stadium on October 13, 2018 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
SOUTH BEND, IN – OCTOBER 13: Alize Mack #86 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is ran out of bounds by Dennis Briggs #20 of the Pittsburgh Panthers in the second half at Notre Dame Stadium on October 13, 2018 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

Day 3 Gems

Caleb Wilson, UCLA — This walk-on turned second-team All-American will skip his senior year to pursue his dream. If he falls to Day 3, the team should nab him.

Romello Brooker, Houston — The AAC’s top tight end exploded last year for 33 receptions, seven TDs, and an Armed Forces Bowl MVP award. He’s legit.

Alize Mack, Notre Dame — South Bend’s 6’4″ redshirt junior has issues — academics, injuries, effort — but his above-the-rim talents are off the hook.

C.J. Conrad, Kentucky — The kind of tough baller written off for his limited standout physical attributes, but so what? UK’s leader and field general.

Isaac Nauta, Georgia — Likely the best pure blocker int his draft; a dirty-deed team leader with a crazy streak. But can he catch the darn ball?

Other Options:

Andrew Beck, Texas; Brandon Fritts, North Carolina;  Foster Moreau, LSU; Kendall Blanton, Missouri; Ravian Pierce, Syracuse

Next: Priority Free Agents

PASADENA, CA – JANUARY 01: Drew Sample #88 of the Washington Huskies scores a touchdown during the second half in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2019 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA – JANUARY 01: Drew Sample #88 of the Washington Huskies scores a touchdown during the second half in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2019 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Priority Free Agents

Drew Sample, Washington — Projected as a low-ceiling bottom-of-the-roster talent. A star if he can improve his route-running and receiving.

Micky Crum, Louisville — A nasty blocker and nimble receiver who never takes snaps off. The Ohio kid’s biggest red flag is a history of injuries.

Nic Weishar, Notre Dame — The 6’5″ grad student didn’t start one game for the Irish this year. Yet pro scouts salivate over his overall game’s upside.

Mavin Saunders, Kansas — A Bahamas-born FSU transfer with just four grabs in 2018. A deep-ball threat who may struggle as a blocker.

Mitchell Wilcox, South Florida — An explosive open-field receiver and solid blocker comparable to Evan Engram.  Some call him the gem of the draft.

Other Options:

Daniel Helm, Duke; Tommy Sweeney, Boston College; Elkanah Dillon, Oregon; Evan Butts, Virginia; Tyler Petite, USC

Next: Intriguing Prospects

ANN ARBOR, MI – OCTOBER 06: Zach Gentry #83 of the Michigan Wolverines tries to avoid the tackle of Darnell Savage Jr. #4 of the Maryland Terrapins during the first half on October 6, 2018 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
ANN ARBOR, MI – OCTOBER 06: Zach Gentry #83 of the Michigan Wolverines tries to avoid the tackle of Darnell Savage Jr. #4 of the Maryland Terrapins during the first half on October 6, 2018 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Intriguing Prospects

Zach Gentry, Michigan — The New Mexico prep QB legend never lived up to his TE potential. But at 6’8″ with nice hands, he’ll find an NFL job.

More from The Jet Press

Dawson Knox, Mississippi — A tantalizing prospect who declared pro too early. But his upside is too good to pass up.

Dax Raymond, Utah State — A tough underclassman with all the tools. A classic H-back ready to dominate modern LBs over the middle.

Kahale Warring, San Diego State — This athletic Aztec walk-on played just one year of high school ball but looks ready to wreak havoc on the big stage.

Matt Sokol, Michigan State — A physical specimen who needs to develop his receiving game.  But a few experts believe he can flourish in NFL trenches.

Other Options:

Jerome Washington, Rutgers; David Lucero, UTEP; Charles Jones II, Tulane; Carson Meier, Oklahoma; Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt; Daniel Imatorbhebhe, USC

Next: Small College Alternatives

Small College Alternatives

Logan Parker, Southern Utah — Not particularly large, quick or nimble; just an unrelenting athlete. Some rate him a top-10 tight end talent in this draft.

Qua Boyd, West Alabama — JuCo star who thrived last year in D-II. UWA’s top TE since fleeting Jets/current AAFers Wes Saxton and Braedon Bowman.

Brandon Dillon, Marian — A blue-collar baller who dominated on the NAIA level and crushed it at the NFLPA Bowl. A real-life “Rudy” to root for.

Donald Parham, Stetson — The 6’8″ DII specimen showed flashes at the Senior Bowl. Could develop into a Gronk-like matchup nightmare.

Alexandre Savard, Universite Laval (Canada) — Quebec’s greatest-ever tight end goes for the gold. Soft hands, good routes, and a bruising blocking game.

Next. Top 5 free agent edge rusher targets

Other Options:

Jake Powell, Monmouth; Jourdan Osinskie, Catawba; Anton Casey, Brown; Keenan Brown, Texas State; Leroy Hill, North Carolina A&T

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