The Jets’ tight end position is probably one of the many jokes told in the NFL, right next to the Browns winning a Super Bowl. The closest thing the Jets had to a tight end was Mickey Shuler back in the late 80s but if you want a today comparison it would have to be either Jace Amaro or Jeff Cumberland (but even that is not a good comparison).
A New Era
The Jets are more known for utilizing a blocking TE, not a receiving or even dual threat TE. Safe to say they haven’t had a “Gronkowski” or “Ditka” style of TE in forever. However, more recently, they believe they may have hit pay-dirt when they saw the 2017 College Playoffs: Clemson vs Alabama. They got to see the 6 foot 5, 255lb TE Jordan Leggett make plays and block for Heisman Finalist Deshawn Watson. With the Jets just adding in Austin Serfian-Jenkins from the Bucs after being released, they thought to add more depth to the TE position and revive it. So with the 150th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, they gambled on Leggett.
Soon after learning of ASJ’s suspension of two games, they decided to pit Leggett and Tomlinson against each other for the starting job. However, during the second pre-season game, Leggett went down with a knee injury and was placed on IR for the rest of the season. Later that year he had a successful surgery and begun rehabilitation.
Todd Bowles said #Jets liked Jordan Leggett, which gave them some comfortability in letting Austin Seferian-Jenkins go.
Also said he was encouraged with how Neal Sterling came on end of the year.
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) March 27, 2018
What Will Leggett Bring to the Table?
After watching what little of Leggett before the knee injury, he looked to be a solution to the answer that ASJ (before departing) solved. He became the dual threat. He was an excellent blocker and receiver but things could have been improved upon. Leggett’s timing and route running needed some room to improve and his sense of over-confidence needs to be tucked away. For example, during training camp taking a shot from Sam Darnold, Leggett would sometimes turn around and grab the catch and peddle backward before actually running, a little showboat if you will. This might be fine if your last name was Gronkowski, Gates, Kelce or Ertz but he is not any of those well established tier one tight ends yet. He is a second-year sophomore TE still looking to play an actual regular season down and he needs to focus on the basics and improve upon them. His natural talent is amazing but his over-confidence is a bad trait.
His knee that was surgically repaired will need to be watched but so far it is holding up. Leggett is making the plays and running the ball and you can see he is pushing it too see how far he can go. While is it smart to test your limits it is also smart to cool down before anything major happens. Remember, he is a rookie who hasn’t played a regular season game and had knee surgery in his first year. However, he could be a Kelce or an Ertz if he can be remain healthy.
His style of play is the same as them, about the same build type as Ertz (6’5″ 249Lb) and Kelce (6’6″ 260Lb). So if the Jets can keep him healthy throughout the season and learn to use him as more of a receiving TE and let Tomlinson do the blocking, then the Jets can actually have another receiver on the field. This would allow other teams to be surprised like they were last season with ASJ leading the NFL TE’s in receptions and TDs at one point.