Ranking the AFC East TE rooms: Where do Tyler Conklin and the NY Jets rank?

Where do Tyler Conklin and company rank amongst the rest of the AFC East?
Tyler Conklin
Tyler Conklin / Winslow Townson/GettyImages
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The tight end position has evolved greatly over the past couple of decades. Previously a pseudo-sixth offensive lineman who primarily executed blocking responsibilities, the modern tight end is an athletic freak who creates mismatches in the passing game while still handling run-blocking responsibilities.

Some teams, like the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, even run their passing game with the tight end as the primary target. While not everyone has a Travis Kelce to be able to do that, the league is now filled with dangerous receiving threats at the position.

Even more, some teams now employ heavy usage of 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends) to create even more mismatches in the passing game while also threatening run based on the formation.

Further down the depth chart, you typically find more one-dimensional players; either blocking specialists or pure receiving threats that operate more like supersized wide receivers.

The AFC East is loaded with talent in this position, so as we've done with the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers we're going to take a deep dive and rank the AFC East tight end rooms.

4. The New England Patriots

The depth chart: Hunter Henry leads the way with Austin Hooper as the No. 2, and Mitchell Wilcox and rookie Jaheim Bell rounding out the room.

New England has built its offense through the tight ends before, to varying degrees of success. First, there was the dynamic duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. That faded away with Hernandez's off-field issues and Gronk eventually moving on. Then, in 2021 they tried to recreate that magic by signing Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith (whom we'll discuss later).

At this point in his career, Hunter Henry is a capable starter. He posted 42 catches for 419 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2023. His 419 receiving yards were a career low, and his run blocking has steadily declined posting run blocking grades of 57.9, 48.3, and 55.8 since joining New England, according to Pro Football Focus.

Those run-blocking grades over the last three seasons are among the lowest of his career. With no true standout skill, Henry can only be regarded as an acceptable starter. Unfortunately, New England's dearth of wide receiver talent puts a larger burden on him than may be warranted at this point in his career.

Austin Hooper is the classic case of a tweener. Too good to be a backup but not good enough to be a starter he's bounced around the league serving in both roles throughout his career. Last year, with the Raiders he tallied 25 catches for 234 yards and zero touchdowns. Like Henry, that was the lowest yardage total of his career.

Also like Henry, his a below-average run blocker. All of this makes the fit between these two players even more awkward. Neither is dynamic enough in anything to complement the other.

The other two tight ends on the roster are total opposites. Wilcox is a classic journeyman who turns 28 in November and has just 29 career catches. Bell is a seventh-round pick that is more of a tight end/wide receiver tweener. At 241 pounds, he's small to be a tight end, but big to be a receiver. He has great speed for a tight end, but not enough to play out wide.