Jets' Position Battles: Tight end

Since Dustin Keller left last offseason, the tight end position has been in dire need of an upgrade. With Kellen Winslow and Jeff Cumberland holding down the fort in 2013, could the Jets be passing the torch to rookie Jace Amaro this upcoming season?

The Jets spent a whole lot of money and made a whole lot of noise retooling their offense this offseason, but remained fairly quiet at the tight end spot — until the draft, that is, when Gang Green nabbed Texas Tech product in the second round. Amaro has the potential to give the Jets the dynamic talent they haven't had at the position for a while, but that's still just potential for now, and he'll have a cluttered depth chart to navigate in his first training camp.

Front Runner: Jace Amaro

After the Jets took Amaro, some questions were raised about his ability as a blocker. Most of them are warranted; he was never a particularly effective or willing blocker, and his somewhat lanky frame leaves something to be desired. New York will almost definitely split him out wide a lot next season. But what those questions fail to mention is that Amaro's only competition, Cumberland, has already proven himself to be a below-average inline tight end — sporting a -8.3 grade in run blocking, according to Pro Football Focus. Amaro's weakness isn't hurting you much considering the lack of other options, and his athleticism and hands are too tantalizing to leave on the sideline.

In the Mix: Jeff Cumberland

Cumberland surprised a lot of people last year. Never considered more than a solid second tight end, he was forced into a starting role out of necessity — the Jets simply failed to bring in any significant talent, and the job was his. He was a wide receiver in college, and so it wasn't a surprise that he wasn't a willing blocker. What was a surprise, though, is that he proved to be a decent weapon in the passing game (often without much help around him). He racked up almost 400 receiving yards while proving to be a relatively athletic threat over the middle. All that said, though, he's just not a two-way player, and if he's your starting tight end, you're in trouble. The Jets spent a second-round pick here for a reason, and Amaro is just a demonstratively more athletic player.

Darkhorse: Zach Sudfeld

Sudfeld was everybody's favorite sleeper when the Patriots signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Nevada two years ago — one Pats beat reporter even referred to him as "Baby Gronk," which tells you pretty much all you need to know about covering the NFL in the summer. He lasted just one month with New England, though, and the Jets snatched him up in the hopes that his potential might start to show up on the field. The physical tools are certainly there; he's 6-foot-6 and runs like a deer, and has the potential to be the two-way player New York desperately needs. If he can improve his route running and his hands, the sky is the limit. No Chance: Terrence Miller and Chris Pantale

Never say never, right? Pantale is the quintessential lunch pail guy, fundamentally sound but athletically limited (he ran a five flat in the 40-yard dash, which, ouch). He scrapped his way onto the roster from the practice squad last season, but if he's starting games for New York, something has gone very, very wrong. Miller is a bit more intriguing — in shorts and a T-shirt, he looks like a starting tight end in the NFL, and he flashed some serious athleticism while playing receiver last year at Arizona. The catch: drops. Lots and lots of drops. He tantalized scouts enough to make a training camp, but if he wants to earn a roster spot he'll have to translate that jaw-dropping physical ability into on-field production.


Jets Insider Top Stories