Every NFL offseason is full of surprises and there have been plenty to chew on for New York Jets fans this year.
Some are good like an undrafted free agent playing above expectations and landing a roster spot like we saw last year with EDGE rusher Bryce Huff.
Or sometimes on the other side of the coin, a really good player gets bit by the injury bug and is out for the year, like we saw with Carl Lawson.
The bad stuff sucks but it’s a necessary evil and it makes the juice that much sweeter on all the great stuff.
ALL the latest Jets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Jets newsletter here!
A New Star Has Risen to the Forefront
With that in mind, we had one of the biggest shockers during the second week of the preseason when the Jets traveled to play the Green Bay Packers.
On the third drive of the game for Gang Green, Zach Wilson operated from an empty set and went methodically through his progressions until he found Tyler Kroft in the middle of the field for the 18-yard score.
It was the first touchdown of Wilson’s career, albeit only in the preseason, but was still a necessary box to check ahead of the season.
The next time the Jets got the ball they got some massive help from their special teams unit as Corey Ballentine returned the ensuing kickoff 73 yards putting the former BYU stud in a favorable position to strike again.
Strike again he did but in a different way.
The former BYU star did a nice play-action rollout to his left, adjusted his body to make the throw as a right-handed passer tossing to his left on the move, and hit Kroft once again in stride for another 18-yard touchdown.
The Jets coaching staff had seen enough and that was the end of the day for Wilson. We were all amazed and came walking away saying wow that’s what the Jets saw on tape! Although the surprising part of this equation was the veteran tight end coming out of the woodwork.
Game of Musical Chairs at Tight End Comes to a Halt
Throughout this offseason, there have been a ton of different names at the tight end position for the Jets.
The dreamers of the group were hoping that fourth-year tight end Chris Herndon would finally realize his potential and step up to the plate. While there have certainly been moments this offseason, it wasn’t what any of us were hoping for.
All in all, on the Jets’ current 85 man roster, that number will have to be 80 by 4 pm on Tuesday, August 24, it features six tight ends.
Trevon Wesco has transitioned to fullback so he barely even counts in this competition and the others are either longshots or special teamers.
The tight end position is supposed to be a security blanket for the quarterback. A player that can be a mismatch nightmare being faster than linebackers and bigger than members of the secondary.
Kroft isn’t the hero we wanted, but he’s the hero we needed.
He burst on the scene in this second preseason game and has risen above minimal expectations when he was originally signed his modest contract back during free agency.
A one-year deal for $2 million with 75 percent of that guaranteed at signing. That ranks him as the 40th highest-paid tight end in the NFL and he’s not even the highest salaried tight end on the roster, that title belongs to veteran Ryan Griffin ($3.2 million).
Kroft with his impressive preseason performance has the inside track to the starting job and on top of that could prove to be one of the greatest values at tight end in 2021.
Throughout his career thus far, the veteran has been a meh tight end statistically, mostly cutting his teeth in the blocking game. Now? He has a chance to re-write his destiny and become the reliable tight end Jets fans have been waiting for.