Camp Countdown '09: Tight Ends
Perhaps just as thin as the Wide Receiver position for the Jets is their Tight End position. The only given is 2nd year pro Dustin Keller. Keller is a tremendous athlete that showed flashes of great ability last year, before hitting a rookie wall and ending up in the coaches doghouse. Keller will be an important cog in this years offense due to the lack of good receivers the team has. Heís a terrific athlete and a matchup nightmare for opponents. He has all the makings of being one of the next really good receiving tight ends and with a rookie QB and limited receivers, Keller could see his numbers skyrocket from 48 receptions to something much higher. The Jets will likely need a big year out of him to make the passing game passable.
Keller will likely not fill the role of a traditional tight end lining up outside the tackle and blocking, so the Jets may look to find someone to help out in that regard. Out of desperation they re-signed Bubba Franks to a one year contract, but recently cut ties with Franks and moved onto Richard Owens, who has been out of the NFL. Owens would fill the blocker role if he was to make the team. JíNathan Bullock and Jack Simmons, both undrafted free agents, look to make an impact. Bullock is a former basketball player that has shown some natural ability in the offseason despite being looked at as an NFL project. If he can block he could be a nice addition to the team. Simmons looks to only be a receiver, but he opened some eyes in workouts and has a shot, especially if he can contribute on special teams. Perhaps the surprising frontrunner for a roster spot is converted defensive end Kareem Brown. The Jets really seem to like Brown and have done everything in their power to keep him a member of the organization. Brown dropped weight this offseason and has begun to learn to play the position and the reviews thus far have been positive.
In 2008 the Jets carried three tight ends, though Franks was as much of a favor to Brett Favre as anything else. Two tight ends seems to be the more logical decision right now, unless a player like Bullock shows enough to make the roster and they are afraid to lose him in the waiver process, which is a possibility. A lot of people have shown some concern about the depth here, but in a pinch the Jets have offensive linemen that can chip in and block as a tight end. Keller is one of the most promising youngsters in the game and maybe the Jets can find something in Brown. Expect the team to be scouting the waiver wire all summer long if nobody distinguishes themselves as the unquestioned number two on the depth chart.