By Shane Hewitt, Staff Writer
With tight end Josh Baker injured and out for the season, when you look behind recently injured Dustin Keller, Jeff Cumberland who has underperformed this offseason provides very little depth at the position.
With an injured Keller on the last year of his rookie contract and Cumberland not living up to expectations, even if the Jets do add another tight end it’s likely the position will be somewhere on their draft board in 2013.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Entering the 2012 season Eifert is ranked as one of best tight ends in college. As a junior, Eifert hauled in 63 catches for 803 yards and five touchdowns.
He is often praised for his hard work and desire to be the best, along with the leadership role he has taken on.
Eifert is fearless going over the middle and does a good job running clean routes to get open. And while he is still developing as a blocker, he has shown improvement in that area since coming to Notre Dame and possesses the strength and power needed to push a defender back when running the ball.
NOTE: Since 2006, Note Dame has produced three tight ends that have been drafted in the second round (Anthony Fasano, John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph) Eifert could be the fourth, but has a good possibility of moving up into the first round.
D.C. Jefferson, TE, Rutgers
One of the more intriguing tight end prospects. Jefferson signed with Rutgers as a highly rated prep quarterback until halfway through camp of his redshirt freshman season, he made the switch to tight end.
At 6’5/258 pounds, Jefferson is one of the most athletic tight ends of his size. Despite that, the tight end position hasn’t been featured in the Rutgers offense. Starting in all 25 of Rutgers’ games the last two seasons, Jefferson has only 22 catches for 284 yards and one touchdown in that period of time.
Despite the low numbers, Jefferson still shows tremendous upside and should be able to offer a big target for any quarterback.
Jefferson is projected to go in the fifth round, but because of the lack of production from an offense that doesn’t feature the tight end position, he could fall even farther and be a steal for a tight end needy team like the New York Jets.
Joseph Fauria, TE, UCLA
The most physically gifted tight end in the draft, Fauria is hard to overlook. Standing at 6’7 (weighing 255 lbs) he is the tallest tight end in the draft.
Fauria is a mismatch in almost every situation. While he isn’t the fastest tight end out there, he runs crisp routes , has shown great leaping ability and soft hands to make the catch. Last year Fauria caught 39 passes for 481 yards and six touchdowns.
Fauria, projected as sixth round pick, could move up a lot higher. But with new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone featuring an offense that doesn’t include tight ends in his pass attack, round six seems like the perfect place for someone with Fauria’s measurables and lack of serious production.
If he does take advantage of Faruia’s size and pass catching ability, look for him in the second or third round.
NOTE: Joseph Fauria’s uncle, Christian Fauria, was a tight end in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Washington Redskins and Carolina Panthers.