By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer
We all know the Jets’ have many needs going into the April’s draft. A dynamic pass rusher would seem to be priority number one followed by improvements virtually everywhere but cornerback (and even that position could take a hit when Revis’ contract ends). While the tight end position was certiantly not a major weakness, Dustin Keller could very leave via free agency and a big, athletic tight end would do wonders for whoever is under center.
Here are the top TE prospects for the 2013 Draft:
1. Tyler Eifert NOTRE DAME 6’6 251
Eifert has held the top spot all year as he grades out highly in all aspects you look for: height, frame, hands, athleticism, toughness and production. I don’t think there is any doubt he will be a top ten overall tight end in the NFL even in his rookie campaign.
Projected to Go: There is probably a 50% chance he’s available for the Jets in round 2, but an even lower probability they pull the trigger on him or any tight end that high.
2. Zach Ertz STANFORD 6’6 249
Most considered former Cardinal tight end Coby Fleener to be the superior prospect, but Ertz has slowly worked his way up to his former teammate’s level. Todd McShay and Scouts Inc. have him higher than Eifert and while I love Ertz and his receiving prowess Eifert is clearly a better blocker, which yes still counts.
Projected to Go: Ertz will most likely go right around Eifert as they are both tremendous prospects and ready to be scooped up in the late first, early second round zone where teams began to consider tight ends.
3. Jordan Reed FLORIDA 6’3 240
For better or worse Reed is considered an Aaron Hernandez clone who is a tad undersized as a true tight end but fits the utility role of fullback, H-back, tight end, and wide out combination without a true position. And like the fellow Gator I really like the athletic mismatches he creates against anyone other than a true corner and ability to challenge defenses down the field.
Projected to Go: Reed could go as early as late second, but I anticipate the mid third range for him. While he is a great talent, I think a bigger and better red zone threat would serve the Jets better.
4. Gavin Escobar SAN DIEGO ST 6’6 255
Beginning the year almost completely overlooked Escobar is the big, athletic red zone threat who has the body control and strong hands to give quarterbacks a little leeway in such an important part of the field. In other words he’s a quarterback’s best friend.
Projected to Go: With a 4th round grade from the crew at cbssports.com he could very well be in the mix for the Jets.
5. Travis Kelce CINCINNATI 6’6 260
Kelce has made an impression of late with a couple outstanding games and was literally not on draft boards as recently as November. A first glance he looks like a bulky blocking specialist, but is actually a nice athlete. That aforementioned bulk complements his terrific balance and overall toughness. He needs a bit of work running routes as he doesn’t look back or anticipate the throws coming his way, something that could be exposed by harder throwing NFL quarterbacks who often let it go before the route is completed. His receiving ability alone doesn’t wow me, but his ability to grind and pave the way in the ground game adds to his value.
Projected to Go: The opinion of Kelce in the scouting community has been increasing drastically, but I’d be surprised if he goes before the late 4th round. Kelce would be a terrific fit if getting the running game going again is a priority of Rex Ryan. However, I think a more receiving oriented guy would help the putrid passing attack more.