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Jets Could Find Starting-Caliber TE Later in Draft

O.J. Howard of Alabama, Projected to Go in Top 10 Next Month, Leads the Deep Position


Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan told the media at the NFL Combine that his team is in the market for a tight end this offseason. Luckily, this year's draft has debatably the most depth at the position in NFL history.

NFL Network's Charles Davis told Eric Allen that he thinks the tight end crop gets deeper every year "because we've taken a lot of wide receivers who are the bigger guys and told them to hit the weight room a little bit more so we can use them as a flex tight end. You have to convince them nowadays. The move to tight end used to be like a threat to a wide receiver. They'd say, 'Oh, God, no, I'll lose weight, I promise,' because that meant going inside and spend a lot of time blocking.

"Nowadays, they can put you in the flex and make you a move tight end. You can still be a wide receiver, but you're going to work the inside parts of the field more than the outside."

ESPN's Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr., in their latest mock drafts, both project Alabama's O.J. Howard will be selected in the top 10 —by the Jaguars at No. 4 (McShay) or by the Jets at No. 6 (Kiper). The 6'6", 251-pound Howard was very productive for the Crimson Tide, registering 114 catches for 1,726 yards and seven touchdowns. At the Combine, he solidified his status at the top TE prospect, recording a blazing 4.51 40-yard dash (the same time as LSU RB Leonard Fournette) and displaying his catching ability.

While Howard's stats are impressive and his talent is undeniable, there's a plethora of talent in the later rounds of April's draft such as Evan Engram of Ole Miss, who Davis said "blew the top off the Combine." Another guy to keep an eye on is Michigan's Jake Butt, who was a projected borderline first-round pick before tearing his ACL against Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Davis believes that even some selections in the later rounds could blossom into NFL starters.

"Pharaoh Brown out of Oregon had a horrible leg injury a couple years ago. So does a team take a look at him down the road?" Davis said. "Darrell Daniels out of Washington is a former receiver ended up moving to tight end. Cethan Carter at Nebraska, guys like that I think you can get down the line a little bit. Josiah Price at Michigan State is your old school tight end. He's going to line up inline first and then he'll fool you catching the football."

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