The conversation around the Jets' tight ends was much different in January compared to now when the team coached the group at the Reese's Senior Bowl.
GM Joe Douglas added a pair of starting-caliber players in C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin, who are expected to play significant roles in the team's offense. Before free agency, a lot of draft analysts believed Douglas would address the position as early as the second round. The narrative has since changed.
The Green & White could still add to the position in the draft -- Uzomah and Conklin were both fifth-round picks -- but it's a group that is no longer a need.
Top of the Class
Trey McBride (6-3, 246), Colorado State — McBride was on the Jets' team at the Senior Bowl in January and is the top tight end prospect of Dane Brugler of The Athletic. He was very productive in 40 games (32 starts) for the Rams, totaling 164 receptions and 2,100 receiving yards – which are school records for tight ends. He became the first tight end in the FBS to surpass 1,100 receiving yards (1,121 in 2021) since the Jets' former TE Jace Amaro in 2013 at Texas Tech. McBride won the John Mackey Award in 2021 and became the fourth player in Mountain West Conference history to be named a unanimous All-American.
Greg Dulcich (6-4, 243), UCLA — Dulcich joined UCLA as a preferred walk-on before working his way to being named first-team All-Pac 12 in 2021 with 42 catches, 725 yards and 5 TDs. He became a starter entering the 2020 season and led the Bruins in receiving yards in each of the last two seasons.
Jeremy Ruckert (6-5, 252), Ohio State — Ruckert, another player who was coached by the Jets in Mobile, grew up on Long Island as a Jets fan. He was primarily used as a blocker for the Buckeyes as he averaged 3 targets per game in 2021, but showed his receiving abilities during the Senior Bowl practices. He had a career-high 26 catches and 309 yards last season to go with 3 TDs. He pulled out of the Senior Bowl early with a foot injury and only did the bench press at the Combine and OSU Pro Day.
Best of the Rest
Jelani Woods (6-7, 253), Virginia — Woods started his collegiate career as a quarterback for Oklahoma State before transitioning to TE as a redshirt in 2017. After three seasons with the Cowboys, all of which he was named honorable mention All-Big 12, he had a career year in 2021. Woods was named first-team All-ACC with career highs in catches (44), yards (598) and TDs (8). He's a big target who draws comparisons to Packers TE Marcedes Lewis (6-6, 267).
Isaiah Likely (6-4, 245), Coastal Carolina — Likely is the opposite of Woods in that his prowess is his receiving. A high school wideout, Likely moved to TE in college and was first-team All-Sun Belt each of the past two seasons. He totaled 59 catches, 2,050 yards (second in FBS) and 12 TDs (second in FBS) in 2021, earning second-team All-American honors. He has a knack for YAC – yards after the catch – with 14 receptions of 20-plus yards in 2021. His 20 yards per catch in 2020 led FBS tight ends.
Day 3 Diamond
Jake Ferguson (6-4, 250), Wisconsin — Ferguson was destined to be a Badger after being born and raised in Madison. He's the grandson of formers Wisconsin HC Barry Alvarez (1990-2005) and his brother, Jake, played safety for the Badgers from 2013-17. A three-year starter, Ferguson is the only draftable tight end in the 2022 class who had at least 30 receptions in four straight seasons and had one drop on 61 targets in 2021. He totaled 46 catches, 450 yards and 3 TDs. He won't blow you away with his stats or testing numbers, but Brugler wrote: "Overall, Ferguson doesn't have much style, but he has substance because of his above average ball skills and competitiveness as a blocker. He has the upside to be an NFL team's No. 2 tight end."