The Jets didn’t necessarily need to pick a tight end in this year’s draft after addressing the position by signing two veterans in free agency.
Nonetheless, when Jets general manager Joe Douglas found himself on the clock in the third round on Friday night, he elected to take Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert with the 101st selection of the 2022 NFL Draft.
“He’s a really tough-minded individual, a great teammate,” Douglas told reporters after making the pick. “He’s a guy that’s willing to sacrifice for the team. He’s a dynamic athlete, he’s a dynamic weapon in the pass game. He wasn’t always the number one option at Ohio State, but he was a guy that was willing to do the dirty work to help his teammates as a blocker.”
Over four years with the Buckeyes, Ruckert compiled 615 receiving yards on 54 catches. That doesn’t mean Ruckert can’t make plays in the passing game, it’s more so a product of Ohio State’s star-studded offense, a group that featured receivers like Garrett Wilson, who New York picked in the first round of this year’s draft.
“I think at the end of the day my number one goal was just doing whatever it took to help the team,” Ruckert said when asked about his college career. “I knew where I wanted to be at this point in my career and I wanted to go somewhere that would challenge me and make me be that player. So, sometimes the production and statistics might not be there, but I feel like you can produce in so many other ways and I think I did that and I got that out of being at Ohio State. I feel like we were winning, so I’m not going to complain.”
Douglas was still impressed with Ruckert’s offensive skillset in his evaluations, even if he didn’t stuff the stat sheet.
“If you look at the playoff games they were in the last few years, he made some big time plays against big time opponents,” Douglas said. “You saw the ability to stretch defenses vertically to separate at the top of routes against some pretty good safeties. Big catch radius, one-handed catches. Really, really dynamic movements in the passing game, so even though he may not have 100 catches in a year, you saw the flashes and say, ‘Ok, this guy can do it.’”
Joining C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin in New York’s tight end room, Ruckert will have a chance to grow over time, not needing to be a superstar right away. Mix that with his skills as a blocker at the line of scrimmage—something that’s pivotal in the Jets’ offensive scheme—and this tight end has the chance to make a huge impact going forward.
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“He’s an absolute bulldog in the run game,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh added.
Speaking of which, Ruckert pointed out that his hometown mascot is the Bulldogs. He takes pride in his ability to grind in the trenches.
“Our strength coach at Ohio State told us some slow down and some speed up into contact and that really hit home to me,” he said. “So ever since that moment, I wanted be that dominant player in the run game. I’ve got a long way to go, but as far as effort, as far as the mentality, you’re going to get my best every single play no matter what my job asks for.”
It just so happens that Ruckert also grew up a Jets fan in Long Island. The Lindenhurst native said this experience has been a dream come true.
“I’ve dreamed this since I was a little kid,” Ruckert said. “My whole family grew up as Jets fans going to practices at Hofstra and going to games as a kid. I mean, the story’s still being written and I can’t wait get to work. This moment right now, I’m super excited and my family is super excited and I’m excited for them. So, I just can’t wait to get to work and be a part of it.”
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