The New York Jets have made wholesale changes at tight end this offseason but two holdovers do remain — fullback hybrid Trevon Wesco and former undrafted talent Kenny Yeboah.
The latter didn’t get much burn on the offense in year one but he did become a key contributor on Brant Boyer’s special teams unit. Appearing in nine outings, Yeboah earned an 86.7 grade for his work on kick and punt return, as well as kick and punt coverage, and field goal attempts. That mark was the second-highest special teams grade on the roster behind linebacker Del’Shawn Phillips.
With Tyler Kroft and Ryan Griffin likely on their way out, it looked like Yeboah might get the opportunity to shine in year two but he was quickly buried by a flurry of additions. C.J. Uzomah, Tyler Conklin and Lawrence Cager all joined the roster as free agents and the franchise also spent a third-round draft pick on Jeremy Ruckert.
Just like that, Yeboah became a footnote at the position but one NYJ media member showed him some much-needed love on July 5.
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Quiet Spring From Yeboah Labeled ‘Tremendous’
During a roster roundup that included notes on Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamp, Jets X-Factor co-founder Robby Sabo noted that Yeboah currently has the leg up on Wesco and Cager while discussing a crowded tight end room. He detailed:
In terms of tight end, keeping four is the minimum number at this moment. And if four are kept, both Wesco and vertical threat Lawrence Cager will have to go—something this franchise will not want to do. The problem for Cager—who would present matchup nightmares in pass-only situations—is that Kenny Yeboah has also looked tremendous in OTAs and minicamp. I’m not sure if the Jets will be able to sneak Cager onto the practice squad without another team plucking him.
After hearing about Cager all spring, it was a pleasant surprise to see that Yeboah has also progressed in his development. The Jets had high hopes for the former Ole Miss transfer who signed as a priority UDFA before a training camp cut landed him on the practice squad.
Considering his ability on special teams and his potential as a receiving threat, Yeboah probably needs the most work both with the playbook and as a blocker. That’s why this rare 2022 praise is so intriguing.
Sabo runs a very knowledgeable NYJ analytics site that focuses on film study and tape breakdowns, not just big plays or flashy camp highlights. If the Xs and Os expert says he “looked tremendous,” I believe it and that could incorporate his route-running and blocking technique — although the Jets did not really run the ball this spring.
Either way, the positive mention is certainly encouraging heading into training camp.
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The Jets haven’t had a decent tight end in the better part of a decade and overnight, they now have four or five legitimate options. I feel like we’ve entered a Bizarro world.
Depending on who you ask, the cuts at this position could be relatively simple or painstakingly complex.
The easy answer is that Uzomah, Conklin and Ruckert make the roster — that’s it. NFL teams don’t necessarily need more than three tight ends and these three are clearly the most talented of the group.
The other obvious solution is to keep four, but that’s also where things begin to get confusing. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur does love to use double-TE sets but would his side of the football really keep five dual-threat blockers including fullback Nick Bawden?
That’s a tricky sell but it could make sense in this offense — especially if Ruckert’s more of a redshirt in year one than the public perception of him.
A fourth tight end would likely mean that only five wide receivers make the roster, rather than six. Would that lost player be special teams ace and spring standout Jeff Smith? Or a trade of former top prospect Denzel Mims?
Injuries could always factor in too, or a potential tight end trade during preseason. At this point, anything is on the table.
As for Yeboah, a year two jump is pretty conceivable but his top challenger will be Cager. Most tight end prospects struggle as rookies but his special teams prowess and his extra season of experience in the system may end up giving him the edge this summer.