The New York Jets went into the 2013 NFL Draft needing to add help at tight end, and left the NFL Draft without addressing the position. The Jets did add Pittsburgh wide receiver/tight end Mike Shanahan, but an undrafted free agent isn't exactly what most had in mind at the position when Jeff Cumberland is the only tight end on the roster with any appreciable NFL experience. With scraps remaining on the free agent market, what players are available for the Jets to explore at tight end?
Heading into the 2013 NFL Draft, the deep tight end class had many believing that there was no way the New York Jets would leave the NFL Draft without selecting one. Tyler Eifert, Zach Ertz, Gavin Escobar, Jordan Reed and Vance McDonald were names that were constantly popping up as potential future Jets. Then the NFL Draft came and went, with the Jets only grabbing an undrafted free agent, Mike Shanahan from Pittsburgh, to bolster their tight end depth.
After losing Dustin Keller to the Miami Dolphins, the tight end position has become a major need area. Marty Mornhinweg typically has featured productive tight ends in his offense, most recently Brent Celek of the Philadelphia Eagles. That's not to say he can't make due without one but the receiving corps, though better than many think, isn't exactly a dominant group.
The best of what's left:
Dallas Clark: Certainly not young anymore, but was once a playmaking tight end for Peyton Manning. Good hands, not a great blocker, but the Jets will be looking for a receiving option. Ideally the Jets would like to get a tight end who can also contribute in the running game, but they aren't in a position to be picky at this point.
Kevin Boss: The best combination of size, blocking ability and good hands, but missed last season due to injury. The New England Patriots were willing to take a flier on Kevin Boss despite his injury last season. Now he's out on the free agent market, likely for very cheap and could be the right fit for the Jets.
Chris Cooley: More of an h-back than an inline tight end, but a useful receiver who can be moved around and provide a reliable target for whomever wins the quarterback job.
Leonard Pope: Great size, not a great receiver. Is a good blocking tight end and at 6-8 he can be a valuable red zone target.
Not a great selection, but there is some quality to be had at tight end on the free agent market. The Jets need to add another contributor at tight end, and signing one of these free agents could make a big difference. The tight end position is going to be vital this year as the Jets try to get their offense on track in 2013.