After a strong showing as a rookie last season, tight end Chris Herndon is ready to take his game to the next level in 2019.
Heading into the 2018 NFL draft, Chris Herndon wasn’t expected to be one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL. But after the Jets selected him in the fourth round out of Miami, Herndon made an immediate impact that likely caused many teams to regret not drafting him earlier.
Herndon caught 39 passes for 502 yards and four touchdowns in his first season at the pro level, leading all NFL rookie tight ends in both receptions and touchdown catches in 2018.
As he prepares for his sophomore campaign, Herndon is ready to take on more responsibility and build on the success he had last year (via team reporter Olivia Landis):
I want to improve from last year. I want to continue to do what they [the coaches] ask of me and even more. Just try to be that player that takes that next step and be more dependable in games and try to put more on my shoulders and more on myself to hold myself more accountable.
It shouldn’t be difficult for Herndon to take his game to the next level in 2019, considering the foolproof recipe that led to his rookie success last year:
Staying focused and not being complacent. Not trying to focus on what I did the previous week or the previous play and having the next-up mentality for the next play. Trying to bring my all to each practice, each workout, each meeting, and hoping it translated to the game. I feel like it worked pretty well for me.
One challenge Herndon will face in 2019, along with the rest of his offensive teammates? Learning a different scheme and playbook under new head coach Adam Gase. But Herndon appears prepared to attack the mental aspect of his preparation just as much as the physical:
You never know what’s going to be thrown in the next day, so before you move on you have to make sure you have what you learned today down because it’s not going to slow down any more than it already is. So staying on top of things and constantly studying and constantly asking questions and making sure that you’re not making the same mistakes from the previous practice will help.
Herndon established himself as a reliable target last year, building a valuable rapport with fellow rookie Sam Darnold, the team’s franchise quarterback. That chemistry will be vital as they both navigate the challenges of learning a new scheme.
While the addition of new weapons like Le’Veon Bell, Jamison Crowder and Trevon Wesco could lead some to believe Herndon’s opportunities will shrink in 2019, the presence of improved talent around him could also open up more opportunities for big plays, as opposing defenses focus their attentions on bigger names.
Either way, Herndon appears more than prepared for whenever the ball does come his way in 2019.