Training camp is nearly upon us for all 32 NFL franchises.
The New York Jets veterans report on Tuesday, July 26 and the first practice gets underway 24 hours later. There is one player that the front office is absolutely excited about and that could drastically impact the roster.
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Some High Praise
In one of his last columns, before he leaves The Athletic, Connor Hughes ranked the Jets 2022 rookies most important to team success this season.
While Jeremy Ruckert finished last in those rankings, the praise was effusive from the top of the organization:
“Of all the players the Jets selected in this year’s draft, the front office might be most giddy about Ruckert. The Ohio State product has the raw talent to develop into a complete tight end and eventually one of the better players at the position in the NFL. The Jets never thought Ruckert would be there for them in the third round, so when he was, they jumped at the chance to draft him.
Ruckert’s future is brighter than his present, though. He’s likely New York’s starter before the end of the 2024 season, but right now he has C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin ahead of him. He’ll get gameday reps, but not a ton.”
Gang Green invested the No. 101 overall pick in the third round on the former Ohio State tight end. The Jets acquired that pick from the Tennessee Titans which was part of the massive AJ Brown blockbuster trade on draft night.
Hughes says his impact should be somewhat marginalized in his rookie campaign due to the overwhelming depth at the position. However that fun fact hasn’t stopped the budding excitement in the Jets front office.
Ruckert is considered to be a well-rounded prospect at the position with his ability to both catch and block. Hughes even went as far as to say that he could eventually develop into “one of the better players” at the tight end spot.
A Crazy Plan
After a decade of ineptitude, the Jets finally had decided that they had seen enough at tight end. Gang Green then invested over $45 million into the position plus a top-101 selection in the 2022 NFL draft.
With that being the case, there is a way for the Jets to truly maximize their roster to get the best 53 ahead of Week 1.
While it appears on the surface, outside of injury, that Ruckert is cryogenically frozen as it pertains to his on-field role at tight end, there is actually still a way he can contribute in year No. 1.
The argument was built around Ruckert’s blocking prowess and how he utilized a lot of the same concepts this Jets offense will ask him to perform.
In a perfect world perhaps Ruckert could serve as the fullback, h-back, and rotational tight end on the roster.
That would make their current fullback Nick Bawden completely expendable and would open up another roster spot.
Ruckert is going to be on the roster no matter what you do, so why not carve out a role for him that can create more options.
All of this of course is based around a healthy Ruckert, which isn’t the case. Prior to camp, he was placed on the NFI (non-football-injury-list) due to a foot injury he sustained at the Senior Bowl.
The team is playing it safe with all of its players that are coming off of injuries. Ruckert can come off the list at any time and if he proves to be a full-go ahead of the season, the Jets should strongly consider this roster strategy.