The New York Jets ended up signing one rookie tryout from last week’s minicamp, former Middle Tennessee State wide receiver Izaiah Gathings.
They announced the news on May 15, listing Gathings as a tight end. “Gathings (6-4, 222) played wide receiver at Middle Tennessee State,” detailed team reporter Ethan Greenberg. “He finished second on the team with 60 receptions for 559 yards and 2 touchdowns in 12 games (11 starts) last year. Gathings had 24 receptions, 302 yards and 1 touchdown in 2021, his first season with the Blue Raiders. He began his college career at Gardner-Webb, totaling 101 receptions, 1,341 yards and 13 scores.”
The rookie’s position change appeared to confuse fans more than anything, considering the Jets already had six TEs on the 90-man roster before the move. Gathings makes seven, and he’s another hybrid receiver similar to draft pick Zack Kuntz and undrafted rookie E.J. Jenkins.
All three fit the same mold as 2022 WR/TE hybrid Lawrence Cager, who made the team last summer. The Jets have yet to execute this WR/TE plan properly, however, as Cager’s role in the offense vanished quickly due to a lack of production.
Along with the three rookie tight ends, the Jets have also drafted third rounder Jeremy Ruckert and worked at developing another former UDFA in Kenny Yeboah in recent seasons.
Jets Fans React to Izaiah Gathings Signing
Given the Quinnen Williams and Kwon Alexander news on the morning of May 15, the Gathings addition was a classic wrong place, wrong time transaction. The fact that he’s another rookie tight end made this signing an even easier target of fan frustration.
“Signing Tight Ends?? Call Kwon and extend Quinnen already d*** it,” one fan replied.
One NYJ supporter was somewhat positive though, noting that “hopefully one of these young dudes can make noise and become a future starter for us” — referring to younger TE talents like Ruckert, Kuntz, Jenkins, Yeboah and Gathings.
Finally, a fan asked New York Daily News beat reporter Antwan Staley whether Gathings was just a “camp body” or not. Staley responded: “Yeah likely but also someone who could potentially be a practice squad player.”
Scouting on New Jets Tight End Izaiah Gathings
Pro Football Network scouting expert Tony Pauline described Gathings ahead of the draft, detailing his strengths and weaknesses as a wide receiver.
“Nice-sized wideout coming off a career season,” he informed. “Settles into the open spot of the field, extends his hands, and snatches the ball away from his frame. Adjusts to the errant throw on crossing patterns, makes the reception in stride, and keeps the play in bounds after the catch. Displays soft, consistent hands. Tough to bring down in the open field.”
As for his weaknesses, Pauline relayed that Gathings “displays limited quickness,” is “minimally effective after the catch despite his best efforts,” and “turned in just one year of significant production at Middle Tennessee after transferring from Gardner Webb.”
In other words, he’s unproven with a lack of explosiveness — which explains the transition to tight end.
“Gathings possesses size, big hands and deceptive speed,” Pauline concluded. “He showed plenty of improvement in his game, and based off last year’s film, Gathings is worth keeping on a practice squad for future development.”
We’ll see if he can do enough to earn a practice squad role within a very crowded Jets tight end room headlined by Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah.