Jets Second-Year Draft Pick ‘Looks Ready’ for Bigger Role at OTAs

Robert Saleh

Getty New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh surveys the training grounds at camp.

As we head toward summer, NFL fans typically turn their attention to younger players that are expected to develop and battle for roster spots during training camp.

One promising name to watch for the New York Jets in that regard is second-year tight end Jeremy Ruckert. The Ohio State product wasn’t asked to do much in 2022, practically redshirting the campaign behind veterans Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah.

Although Conklin and Uzomah are back in 2023, Ruckert could be forcing his way into the conversation for more playing time according to The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt.

“Ruckert looks ready to take on a bigger role this season,” the NYJ insider reported while providing readers with an early synopsis of Organized Team Activities (OTAs). “He’s been a standout in both practices with media present and Jets coaches raved behind the scenes all last season about how confident they were that he could eventually be a quality tight end.”

He added that with Conklin and Uzomah still in the picture, “it will be interesting to see how that rotation plays out.”

Jets TE Jeremy Ruckert Flashes Hands at OTAs

The Jets social media team even caught one of the receptions Rosenblatt was likely referencing, posting a video of an impressive one-handed catch at OTAs.

“Football is fun, right @Jeremy_Ruckert1?” They joked. The former third rounder responded, “really fun,” and it’s easy to see why he’s in such good spirits this spring.

Rosenblatt’s featured note wasn’t the only praise the young tight end has received on Twitter over the past couple of weeks. Ruckert has been turning heads and making some noise.

“Jeremy Ruckert is a player I’d really keep an eye on come training camp,” SNY’s Connor Hughes voiced on May 31. “I think he could really push for a significant role. He continues to look good.”

ESPN’s Rich Cimini also included Ruckert in a rundown of OTA takeaways on May 31. “Ruckert clearly improved,” he stated after calling him a “standout.”

Hughes even reported a “nice sliding grab” from Ruckert, via Zach Wilson, on May 23.

Jets Have Always Had a Plan for Jeremy Ruckert

It was somewhat silly when certain members of the media suggested Ruckert as a trade candidate because of the crowded TE room. This front office has seemingly had a plan for the youngster since day one — why would they choose to deviate from that so quickly?

Although Ruckert appeared in nine games as a rookie, he was only targeted twice with one catch for eight yards. His first attempt at a reception was deemed a drop earlier in the season.

That minor offensive impact came over 46 snaps, a slim 8% according to Pro Football Reference.

The special teams unit was where Ruckert earned his roster spot and game-day activation in 2022. He played 46% of snaps for Brant Boyer’s unit, which came out to 101 total opportunities. That’s making yourself useful.

In the NFL, tight ends typically take a year or two to develop. This happens far more often at their position than it does others. Almost preemptively, the Jets coaching staff decided to place Ruckert in a developmental role as a rookie, having him learn the ebbs and flows of the league behind two established veterans.

It’s too soon to determine whether or not that plan will work out for Ruckert long-term, but the early returns appear to be positive. Don’t be surprised if seventh-round prospect Zack Kuntz is treated the exact same way during his rookie campaign.

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