NY Jets Optimistic Roster Breakdown: TE Chris Herndon

NY Jets’ tight end Chris Herndon will be looking for a bounce-back season in 2020.

The NY Jets were forced to deal with countless injuries to key players last season, but perhaps no injury was felt more than the one suffered by tight end Chris Herndon.

After a promising rookie season that saw him finish with 39 catches for 502 yards and four touchdowns, many expected 2019 to be the year that Herndon broke out as a true top-10 tight end in the NFL.

Unfortunately, luck had a different plan.

Herndon was suspended for the first four games of the season stemming from a DUI charge he was hit with prior to his rookie campaign. And upon his return, he would sustain multiple injuries that would essentially force him to miss the entire season.

First, it was a hamstring injury that delayed his return until Week 10. And once he finally got back on the field, he would only last one quarter before going down with a broken rib that would end his season prematurely.

Herndon finished the year with one catch for seven yards in basically a quarter of action — a disappointing sophomore NFL season to say the least.

Now entering his third season, what could Herndon do to find success in 2020?

How Chris Herndon can find success with the NY Jets in 2020

There is perhaps no more important player to the Jets’ offense in 2020 — aside from Sam Darnold — than Herndon. The Jets missed their talented tight end in more ways than can really be calculated on a stat sheet.

Herndon was really starting to come into his own in 2018 and by the end of the year had become one of Darnold’s favorite targets in the passing game — a passing game that was an absolute mess in 2019.

Consider the fact that Herndon’s numbers were nearly identical to those of fellow rookie tight end Mark Andrews in 2018. Andrews went on to finish the 2019 season with just south of 900 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns establishing himself as one of the best tight ends in the NFL.

Herndon sat and watched from the sidelines, surely thinking that could have been him.

On top of that, a woeful running game was made even worse by the lack of a proficient blocking tight end. Both Ryan Griffin and Daniel Brown are subpar run-blockers and rookie Trevon Wesco was used more as a fullback than a true in-line tight end.

Herndon’s blocking is arguably the most underrated element of his game and the Jets sorely missed it last season.

So how can Herndon ensure that 2020 is a successful season? How can he put together a true bounce-back year?

For starters, he has to stay on the field. Herndon played all 16 games in his rookie season so any cries of “injury prone” are a bit premature. But if he misses significant time with another injury in 2020, the front office might begin to lose their patience.

Especially when taking into account his serious MCL injury in his senior season at Miami.

When on the field, Herndon must continue to develop into the reliable receiving threat that he was becoming. With a very inexperienced wide receiver corps, Herndon should have every opportunity to build off of the chemistry he had established with Darnold two years ago.

His hands were a bit inconsistent early in his rookie season and that’s something he could continue to work on. The same goes for his run-blocking that, while better than any other option on the team, could still use some refinement.

Overall, Herndon is already a well-rounded tight end who, as long as he stays healthy, should have no trouble developing into a very solid starter at the NFL level.

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Stay on the field, clean up some of the more unrefined elements of his game, and 2020 should be a success for Chris Herndon.

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