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