NY Jets: Tyler Kroft has emerged as TE1 this summer

NY Jets, Tyler Kroft
NY Jets, Tyler Kroft / Green Bay Press Gazette-USA TODAY Sports

The NY Jets entered the summer with a battle for the starting tight end job. And while no player has emerged as a surefire star, Tyler Kroft has established himself as the clear-cut starter.

That wasn't always expected to be the case, however.

When the Jets signed Kroft to a one-year, $2 million contract in the offseason, the idea was that he would step in as Chris Herndon's primary backup.

The veteran tight end was always seen as a better blocker and the thought process was that he'd serve as an excellent complement to a hopefully resurgent Herndon in 2021.

Only that hasn't been the case.

Tyler Kroft will be the NY Jets' starting tight end to begin the year

Herndon entered OTAs as the returning starter. The hope was that the young tight end would bounce back from a horrid 2020 season in a Mike LaFleur scheme that was expected to be kind to the tight end position.

But it didn't take long for Kroft to pass his younger teammate on the depth chart following a disappointing spring. By the time minicamp rolled around, Herndon was splitting first-team reps with Kroft and Ryan Griffin.

This was a notable development as it made it clear that there was a true competition at the position heading into training camp. And now that the dust has settled, Kroft has emerged as the team's top starting option.

He hasn't exactly filled up the stat sheet, but he's proven to be the Jets' most reliable option. Herndon continues to have issues with drops. Griffin can't seem to stay healthy.

All the while, Kroft has proved to be a steady, reliable starter for the Jets. That much was evident in the team's second preseason game.

Quarterback Zach Wilson connected with Kroft twice last Saturday, both times the play went for six. Kroft finished with two catches for 36 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Herndon hauled in one catch for five yards and Griffin sat out with an injury. That game was a microcosm of how this summer has gone for the Jets' tight ends.

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Tyler Kroft isn't going to be a star. You could even argue that he's not a starting-caliber tight end. But he's the best the Jets have at the moment.

And that much has been made clear.