Although no one truly knows until the prospects take the field and play a few seasons, the consensus around the NFL community is that the New York Jets had one of the best drafts in the entire league in 2022.
As we know, it included three first-round selections and potentially four first-round talents — when you consider that Breece Hall was graded out as the top running back in his class. General manager Joe Douglas and his staff dominated, plain and simple, but it was a different rookie that NFL Network pundit Peter Schrager named as the “best value pick” in the entire draft.
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‘Top-50 Player’ at Pick 101
According to team reporter Ethan Greenberg, Schrager and NFL insider Tom Pelissero each chose one value selection for this year’s draft class during a recent episode of “Good Morning Football” and the GMFB co-host went with tight end Jeremy Ruckert.
The Jets technically landed the Ohio State product during the compensatory phase of round three, using the 101st pick of the draft. At the start of the weekend, this spot in the order belonged to the Tennessee Titans but after the trade-up for Jermaine Johnson II, Gang Green was given this selection to even out the return.
It turned into a player that Douglas might have taken at pick No. 69 — their original third-rounder. Schrager concurred, noting that he thought Ruckert “was a top-50 player and [thought] the Jets did as well.”
“Every time he touched the ball, he made an impact,” Schrager told the GMFB crew. “He scored five touchdowns last year, he was all over the field and he blocked. The Jets were thrilled that Ruckert was still on the board at that spot in the third round and they get another talented player in what was a loaded draft.”
While Trey McBride or Isaiah Likely was thought to be the top tight end prospect in the draft by most, Ruckert wasn’t far off. Some even believed that he could turn into the best full-package dual-threat in the class after a couple of years of development.
Schrager added: “He’s going to be a fantastic player. He goes to a tight ends room that already has Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah. Now you add in Jeremy Ruckert, who didn’t put up huge numbers [at Ohio State] but was in an offense with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, and Jameson Williams before [he transferred to Alabama].”
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How Much Will Ruckert Play in Year 1?
Considering Uzomah and Conklin were brought in to start, Ruckert may be asked to learn more than he’s asked to contribute in year one — barring injuries. Rookie tight ends tend to struggle with the NFL transition more than most positions and the former Buckeye only turns 22 in August.
He’s expected to be somewhat raw entering the pros but Ruckert also has all the fundamentals and talent to eventually take over as the first-team tight end. That appears to be the plan, just don’t expect a massive impact from the Long Island native in 2022.
Uzomah and Conklin will be utilized early and often in this offense but you could see Ruckert deployed most as a sub in two-tight end blocking sets. That’s an area the rookie excelled in college and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur told “Flight 2022” viewers that the Jets “are going to ask [Ruckert] to [run block] quite a bit.”
“[Ruckert is] a grown man that has his priorities straight, and you can tell he loves football,” LaFleur voiced. “Not very often in today’s game [do] you see tight ends that — can they get it done in the run game? Cause frankly, their hands [are] just not in the dirt. When you turn on his tape, he didn’t care about getting dirty.”
The Jets OC ended the film breakdown by describing the way Ruckert finishes blocks: “He’s going to make you know that he’s coming all freaking day.”