Heading into the 2022 offseason, there were several areas of need for the New York Jets but one was so obvious that some anticipated a full teardown at the position.
That was the tight end group, and while one or two players have survived the carnage for now, the overhaul has been very thorough. Tyler Kroft and Daniel Brown — available free agents — were not re-signed and veteran Ryan Griffin was cut, while general manager Joe Douglas spent good money to secure talent like C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin.
With Kenny Yeboah, Trevon Wesco, Lawrence Cager, Brandon Dillon and fullback Nick Bawden on the roster already, you would think the Jets might be done adding at tight end, but a recent report says otherwise.
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Still Appears ‘Likely’ the Jets Draft a Tight End
All signs point to the Jets selecting a tight end late in the draft, and that prospect could end up being Coastal Carolina product Isaiah Likely.
According to NFL insider Jordan Schultz, Likely “is visiting” the Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals and Jets this month. The first-team All-Sun Belt TE impressed as a pass-catcher with 912 receiving yards in 2021.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t see Likely as a scheme fit for the Jets because he didn’t play in-line as much in college but with Uzomah and Conklin in the fold, this offense doesn’t really need a blocker as much as it did in January. The Coastal Carolina product is more similar to Chris Herndon than Kroft or Griffin, without the negative connotations.
NFL draft expert Lance Zierlein described him: “Tight end prospect with an intangibles profile and positional traits that make him projectable to the next level. Likely was a winner in high school and played a pivotal role in the ascension of Coastal Carolina over the past two seasons. He lacks a prototypical tight end frame and is an inconsistent blocker, but he runs well and filled up his career stat sheet with big plays. It could take Likely a year or two to find his footing against stronger, faster coverage, but he has the tools to uncover against NFL coverage as an ‘F’ tight end.”
Although players like Wesco and Dillon are certainly on the roster bubble, a Likely selection would be most concerning for Yeboah. The two “move” tight ends would be in direct competition for snaps in Mike LaFleur’s 2022 offense if the Jets call the rookie’s name in the draft.
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Jets Signings Created New TE Range in 2022
The Uzomah and Conklin pickups may not have dissuaded the Jets from drafting a tight end but it did change the range that they are likely to select one.
After the two additions, Connor Hughes of The Athletic wrote that “the Jets still figure to draft another tight end in the third or fourth round.” That could end up being Likely, but let’s say he’s off the board, here are a few other options that could find themselves wearing green this summer — with analysis from Pro Football Network.
Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State
Similar to Likely, the Long Island native may end up being too expensive for the Jets now that the tight end position is no longer a severe need. Ruckert was labeled a perfect fit for Gang Green during the Senior Bowl — and not just because his dad is a fan of the team — but the rising dual-threat could be a pipe dream at this point.
Greg Dulcich, UCLA
Another receiving threat that began to rise in the ranks after the Senior Bowl. Dulcich is not much of a blocker but as we mentioned earlier, the Jets may not be looking for that in their TE prospect anymore.
Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin
Known for his “consistency and reliability” as a Badger, Ferguson may not wow you but he doesn’t do anything poorly either.
Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M
The productive Texas A&M product could drop in the draft after an “alarming” relative athletic score of 1.00 out of 10. Yikes!
Cole Turner, Nevada
A 6-foot-6 red zone target that converted to tight end from wide receiver. Turner is reliable as a pass-catcher but needs work as a blocker.
Cade Otton, Washington
A surehanded prospect with a 6-foot-5 NFL frame who was not “maximized” in college according to PFN. Solid blocker as well, and a potential raw sleeper late in the draft.
Jelani Woods, Virginia
Woods gained a ton of steam after a big-time performance at the combine. He’s 6-foot-7 and ran a 4.61 40-yard dash. He also knows how to block, and looks like another late-round gem for any potential suitor.