Tight end has become the great equalizer. Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews can elevate an otherwise average roster to competing week-in and week-out. A committee approach resulting in Mo Alie-Cox or David Njoku, though, can undercut a strong week from the rest of the team.
The position has become all about value and target share. Tight ends can make an impact as regular contributors, but the gross imbalance in scoring means high draft picks or getting lucky. Here’s a look at three players currently outside the top 20 of the position:
Irv Smith Jr. (21)
Irv Smith somewhat broke onto the scene as a rookie in Minnesota, setting a franchise record with 36 receptions. The two years since have been underwhelming. He failed to improve through his second season and 2021 never got started thanks to a knee injury. 2022 could (should?) be the year it finally comes together for the former Bama star.
Kirk Cousins remains at the helm in an offense that performs better than many give recognition. Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson (for now) are pressing defenses on the outside, opening opportunities for Smith underneath and over the middle. His ability to run after the catch may be handicapped following the injury, but his size and ball skills make him a high-potential option available late in the draft.
Brevin Jordan (26)
Houston will be looking for their young guns to make major strides this season. Overall expectations are low, but Davis Mills will be granted the opportunity to win the franchise. If he performs, the team will likely look past the QB position in next year’s draft. A key part of his development will be the impact of Brevin Jordan.
Jordan was an interesting prospect coming out of Miami with varied concerns. He was inactive for much of the year but made an impact in his first professional game when he scored a TD and hauled in three receptions. His involvement grew as the year progressed, and his role should only continue to grow in 2022.
The Texans brought in rookie John Metchie, who is recovering from an ACL injury. Houston is also relying on veteran Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins to shoulder the load – opening opportunity for Jordan in the passing game.
Ricky Seals-Jones (35)
Seals-Jones is one of those players that everyone wants to develop so badly. He was a five-star recruit out of high school and has simply not caught on since. He transitioned from wide receiver to tight end and is now on his fourth team in six years. The question is: why is this year any different?
It’s likely not. However, as an undrafted option, he provides (that deadly word) the potential to finally cash in on his size as a deadly red zone option at tight end. New York has a slew of inconsistent receivers and a bad quarterback throwing the ball, making it difficult to predict just how the offense is going to flow. If (Daniel) Jones and Seals-Jones make a connection though, the former will play on it to save his job.
Other Players to Watch
- Mo Alie-Cox (30) – MAC steps up as the number one tight end in the new look Indianapolis offense.
- Jonnu Smith (34) – Low value to acquire a guy with demonstrated success as a red zone threat.