The New York Jets are hoping to follow the NFL trend of making the tight end more involved in the passing game, and as final roster cuts near they feel very good about the group they have at the position. The Jets will be looking for major impact from these players, and here is what the depth chart will most likely look like.
Starter: Jeff Cumberland
Reserves: Jace Amaro, Zach Sudfeld
We’ll begin with this caveat: you should read very little into this depth chart. Cumberland is probably going to start at the Y position, otherwise known as the traditional in-line tight end. However, that does not mean that he is ahead of Amaro, or even that he will play more frequently than Amaro.
Amaro is listed as a tight end, but the Jets are going to move him all over the field and frequently play him as a wide receiver and in two tight end sets. Cumberland has missed the last two preseason games with an Achilles injury, and Amaro has looked good in his absence. Amaro has 8 receptions for 79 yards and 1 TD this preseason, all of which are at least tied for the team lead. He has been decent as a blocker as well, though it is clear that Cumberland remains superior in that category.
That fact is what will likely keep Cumberland in the starting lineup. The Jets are going to be a run first team, and they need their tight end to contribute as a blocker. Until Amaro proves he can consistently block at a high level, Cumberland will see significant playing time. To be fair, Cumberland is a solid receiver in his own right, and he has led the Jets in touchdown receptions each of the last two seasons. The two should make for a very nice combination, and the Jets will find plenty of snaps for both.
Sudfeld has locked down the third tight end position, and at this point the only way Chris Pantale could crack the roster is through injury. Sudfeld has been very impressive in practice, and the Jets think he has some potential to develop into a quality player. If nothing else, at 6’7″ he could be a red zone threat on jump balls. Sudfeld has been one of the most impressive players in training camp, so don’t be surprised if the Jets find a way to get him on the field.
The quality of this position all depends on Amaro, who seems to be adapting nicely to the NFL. If he can be one of the Jets’ leading receivers, their passing game should improve quite a bit from last season. However, until Amaro proves himself in the regular season as both a receiver and blocker, Cumberland will continue to play a big role. Overall, the Jets have good depth and talent at the tight end position, and they should be satisfied as they enter the season.