New York Jets position group evaluations: Tight Ends

New York Jets, Chris Herndon

As the season looms, I decided to take a deep dive into each New York Jets position group within the organization and grade each group. Today’s group is one of the most encouraging groups on the roster. That is the tight end room. From a highly anticipated bounce back tight end to a standout veteran, to a potential diamond in the rough, this group is one of the best on the roster. So let’s get into it.

TE 1: Chris Herndon

Without a doubt, the most anticipated return on this roster is Chris Herndon. Last season, Herndon entered the year with very high hopes. After a suspension and an upper buddy injury, Herndon’s sophomore season was a bust. Now, he’s back, and he’s been a star of camp. Reporters have been consistent across the board in their lauding of how he will be the critical piece to Sam Darnold’s success. With the lack of receiver depth, Herndon will be counted on to play a significant role. As I previously wrote, Herndon will either be the X-Factor of the offense and the key reason Darnold takes the next step or the reason Darnold has nobody to turn to when the play breaks down.

TE 2: Ryan Griffin

Last season, without Herndon, many analysts wondered who’d step up at tight end. Those questions were quickly dispelled with the impressive play of Griffin. With 34 catches for 320 yards and five touchdowns, Griffin proved to be a huge red zone threat. If Herndon can be the dynamic threat over the top and outside (when need be), then Griffin will be able to play a huge role in red zone success. As long as both guys can stay healthy when the Jets put out two tight end sets, they could be a force to be reckoned with. Griffin does tend to struggle with consistency, though, so as long as he doesn’t become a non-factor, he’ll be a great piece of the offense.

TE 3: Trevon Wesco

The West Virginia product was a curious selection by the former front office regime when he was picked in the fourth round of the 2019 draft. Wesco wouldn’t have been a controversial pick if he was known as a dynamic threat in the red zone or over the middle like the two other tight ends in the room, but he was traditionally known as a blocking tight end. Then, this offseason, he became a much more well-rounded athlete as Adam Gase has stated, and he’s found a real rhythm in camp reportedly. If Wesco can show in-game that he can be a weapon, that would only make the offense all the better.

Grade: A-

This group is FAR from a proven group. With that said, the way Douglas and Gase have built this group, they have potential to complement each other very nicely. Not only that but with the lack of depth at receiver, these guys will be counted on to step up. I truly believe this group has potential to shock some people this year and mask some of the Jets offensive inadequacies. 

New York Jets: Chris Herndon preparing to finally break out in 2020?

New York Jets, Chris Herndon

The New York Jets have one playmaker ready to make a comeback:

During his rookie season 2018, New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon was one of the most polarizing players at the position. As a fourth-round pick, he earned 39 receptions with four touchdowns. He tallied 502 receiving yards, trailing behind only Mark Andrews of the Baltimore Ravens, who was having a career season. Herndon has the pass-catching potential to be an elite option of the NFL level, but injuries and suspensions have hurt his young career.

In 2019, he played in just one game, logging one reception for 7 yards. Going into his third season in the NFL, the Jets have high expectations for the 24-year-old tight end. They also have Ryan Griffin, who excelled at the position in his absence. Griffin posted 320 yards and five touchdowns, compiling an 82.9% catch rate, which is unbelievably high for any position player.

Playing a lot of 12 personnel could be in the future for the Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, who will now have two more than capable tight ends.

Conor Hughes of The Athletic stated that the Jets can’t wait to unleash Herndon in 2020.

“The team had sky-high expectations for their tight end entering last season, but a league-imposed suspension and injuries limited him to just one healthy quarter.”

Ultimately, he can feature as one of their primary playmakers from a blocking standpoint in the run game to receiving option in the passing game. His versatility makes him extremely exceptional in all facets, but remaining healthy has been a challenge for him up to this point. He finished 2019 on injured reserve with a rib injury.

Nonetheless, the Jets should have a rebuilt offense with a brand new offensive line and protection scheme. The hope is that the line can hold up in pass protection, giving Herndon and Griffen the freedom to run routes frequently and not block to compensate for weak tackle-play. Drafting Mekhi Becton should help Darnold’s blind-side significantly.

The New York Jets have en extremely underrated tight ends corps

New York Jets, Chris Herndon

The New York Jets feature several quality tight ends that will contribute in 2020.

One of the more underrated units for the New York Jets is their tight ends corps, featuring Ryan Griffin, Chris Herndon, and Trevon Wesco. The trio failed to play together regularly in 2019 after Herndon was placed on injured reserve after fracturing his ribs against the New York Giants in week 10. Griffen was then thrust into a starting role, where he thrived.

After spending six years with the Houston Texans, Griffen found his way to the Jets. He received a three-year extension worth $10.8 million with Gang Green, cementing himself in the offensive unit and guaranteeing his participation on a growing team.

Finding his way to a starting role after Herndon went down was what Griffen needed to prove his worth — posting 34 receptions for 320 yards and five touchdowns before an ankle injury halted his campaign in week 14.

However, his red-zone production was stellar, making him an essential piece on offense and a safety-net for Sam Darnold in the passing game. With Griffen and Herndon capable of producing at a high level, the Jets and Adam Gase could use more 12-personnel to get both tight ends on the field to diversify their scheme.

Another tight end on the roster is Wesco, who played in all 16 games last season, starting in just one. He hauled in three-receptions for 47-yards on the year, a seldom number but a start to his professional tenure.

At 6-3, 267-pounds, Wesco is a big body who can serve as a quality blocker in the running game as he develops his route running and speed off the line of scrimmage. While I don’t picture him having a significant impact in 2020, it’s always a positive thing to have a serviceable backup, especially with Herndon’s injury, previous injury, and troubles.

 

Ryan Griffin has been a Pleasant Surprise for the New York Jets in 2019

Signing Ryan Griffin was one of the first moves that new New York Jets‘ GM Joe Douglas made this offseason. He hasn’t disappointed.

When word of a four-game suspension for Jets’ starting TE Chris Herndon came down it was a big blow. The Jets didn’t have a competent replacement on the roster. The only other TEs on the roster were rookie Trevon Wesco who had never produced in college and Daniel Brown who had 130 yards in a season.

So, when Joe Douglas took control of the Jets’ roster he had an immediate whole to fill. After about a month on the job he was able to come to terms with Ryan Griffin on a one-year $1,000,000 deal. A cheap deal for a guy who was cut by the Texans and remained a free agent for over two months.

Nobody thought much of the move. Some thought he would lose the starting job to either Wesco or Brown. That was never a thought for the Jets though. Griffin played very little in the preseason as the Jets needed to make sure he was healthy and ready to go for week one.

Now, Griffin has been the starting TE for every game this season. While, Chris Herndon compounded his suspension with multiple injuries and he won’t play another game this season. That’s still a huge blow to the Jets’ offense because Herndon is one of the best young TEs in the NFL, and he is one of Sam Darnold‘s preferred targets. However, Griffin has done a good job softening that blow.

Ryan Griffin has 28 receptions for 282 yards and 5 TDs this season. That puts him on pace for 41 receptions for 410 yards and 7 TDs. Griffin came into this season with seven career TDs, and he’s on pace to match that this season. That goes to show how much Darnold loves big-bodied targets in the RedZone. He’s also going to set a career-high for first down receptions, as he has 18 now and his current career-high is 19.

Griffin isn’t all of a sudden a good starting TE, but he is a competent NFL quality TE. Griffin is tied for 21st in receptions, 24th in yards, and 4th in TDs among TEs this season. That’s not great or even good. He’s a below-average starting TE, but those numbers clearly show he’s a low tier starting TE. Someone who’s worth of his three-year 10.8 mil extension.

That contract is set to give him $3.6 mil a year. That ranks 26th among TEs in AAV, and that’s before free agency when contacts will inflate even more.

A TE duo of Chris Herndon and Ryan Griffin should be the best duo the New York Jets have had at TE since Dustin Keller and Jeff Cumberland. It’s just another reason to look forward to the 2020 season.

New York Jets: Wide receiver position battle taking shape

New York Jets, Greg Dortch

With the New York Jets progressing through the preseason, the position battles are starting to take shape and weed out the rotten eggs. Here are several battles that you should keep an eye on:

The Biggest Battle for the New York Jets:

The Jets will likely carry six players with Josh Bellamy likely being on the roster as a WR and key special teamer. That lowers the field down to Tim White, Greg Dortch, Deontay Burnett, and Deonte Thompson. Thompson has had a quiet camp and not flashed anything spectacular on or off the field.

Tim White has a noteworthy motor and is extremely motivated to work diligently for his place on the team. He consistently works after practice to better each aspect of his game. He never stops grinding, and although he deserves a spot somewhere, Gang Green doesn’t seem like his destination.

Deontay Burnett has a connection to the QB 1, Sam Darnold; he’s got excellent hands and overall phenomenal talent that gets consistently overshadowed. He deserves the WR 5 spot and deserves to earn a place to demonstrate his capabilities truly.

The WR 4 seems like Greg Dortch all the way. Dortch is a special teams weapon and also happens to be a dynamic playmaker who can help the offense in many different ways. Dortch and Burnett both deserve to stick around and see prime opportunities.

Who Fills In For Herndon?

Ryan Griffin and Trevon Wesco have been the two guys most likely to step in for Herndon during his suspension. Wesco has looked solid, and Griffin has been quiet. Wesco deserves to get a fair shot to prove himself. Right now I’d say although Wesco has had success and could still see the field, this seems to be the veterans job to lose. 

New York Jets: Who is Ryan Griffin and What Does he Bring?

New York Jets sign Ryan Griffin.

The New York Jets have signed former Houston Texans tight end Ryan Griffin. Griffin, a former 6th round pick in 2013, has been a perennial backup his entire career only amassing 136 receptions and 1,491 receiving yards over the span of his 6-year career. Griffin’s best year came in 2016 where he logged 50 receptions for 442 yards and 2 touchdowns.

What to expect from Griffin?

Griffin comes on to the team with a legitimate chance to secure a roster spot. Due to Chris Herndon’s 4 game suspension, Griffin could find himself starting if 4th round pick Trevon Wesco doesn’t impress in camp. Griffin provides veteran insurance in a tight end room whose most experienced player is Eric Tomlinson.

The Jets offense will surely struggle without their top tight end option helping in the passing attack, but Griffin is capable and can fill in while Herndon serves his suspension. He won’t light up the field in any specific way, but he’s a serviceable backup for the time being.

Hopefully, quarterback Sam Darnold can utilize his new weapons in Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder to mask the loss at TE.

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Projected New York Jets starting tight ends: Chris Herndon (4 game suspension), Trevon Wesco (rookie), Daniel Brown, Ryan Griffin.