Jets 21-Year-Old Earns ‘Surprise Gem’ Label Ahead of 2022

New York Jets practice

Getty A snapshot of several members of the New York Jets going through training camp.

In the third round of the 2022 NFL draft, the New York Jets made what some people called a first-world problem selection.

Gang Green took Ohio State tight end, Jeremy Ruckert, with the No. 101 overall pick despite already adding CJ Uzomah and Tyler Conklin in free agency.

Connor Hughes of The Athletic seemingly raised an eyebrow at the selection initially saying, “the Jets didn’t have to take Ruckert. They certainly had needs elsewhere.”

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Didn’t See That Impact Coming

Now you would think based on that initial intro that Ruckert is simply a selection for the future and he won’t make a real impact in year No. 1 right? Wrong!

Ian Wharton of Bleacher Report recently predicted every NFL team’s surprise rookie gem for this upcoming season.

Now mind you finding a gem is a little more difficult when every selection by the green and white this year came inside the top four rounds. However, Wharton powered through and selected the former Ohio State product as his pick for the Jets:

“Ruckert can still be a surprise gem even in a reduced role. He finished each of his last three seasons at Ohio State in the 77th percentile or higher in PFF‘s run-blocking grades for tight ends and dropped just two passes in his career (h/t Jet X’s Michael Nania). He’s used to making the most of his opportunities in a small-volume role and will be in a similar position to start his NFL career.”

That is an astute observation by Wharton.

Despite Ruckert having all of the tools that you would want to feature in an offense, he was used situationally during his time with the Buckeyes:

  • 54 catches
  • 615 yards
  • 12 touchdowns

The 21-year-old (who will turn 22 by the start of the 2022 season) garnered those underwhelming statistics in four years at Ohio State.

Although it wasn’t due to a lack of anything per se, the Buckeyes just have a ton of really good players and there is only one football to be had. Ruckert never complained about the lack of opportunities, he simply embraced his role and balled out.

One to Circle for the Future

Ruckert will make an impact immediately for a Jets offense that is determined to go back to the ground-and-pound.

While that won’t win many box scores on a week-to-week basis that can often be the difference between a four yard gain and a 60-yard touchdown.

Also, I wouldn’t count out offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur cooking up so unique packages to maximize Ruckert’s incredible frame at 6-foot-5, 252 pounds.

Although on top of what he’ll provide in his rookie campaign, his bright future has to titillate fans everywhere.

Ruckert will be learning from two absolute pros in Uzomah and Conklin. Those experiences this year on and off the field should be paramount to his own development when he inevitably takes the torch down the road.

We haven’t often seen the Jets be this forward-thinking with their draft picks. Typically they have seven massive needs and whoever they select needs to fill those voids immediately on the roster.

However, in this particular case, they can be very selective with how they utilize Ruckert and can gradually work him into his eventual role.

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