Jets tight end Dustin Keller is poised for a break out season.
In 2009, the multi-talented tight end was rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez' go-to guy. Still, the Jets acquired receiver Santonio Holmes after the season, giving them a potentially lethal stable of wideouts. But don’t sleep on Keller. This could be the season that he really emerges.
His stats in the preseason loss to the Giants were not eye-catching (2 receptions, 19 yards), but Keller was targeted on numerous occasions. The former Purdue player has caught 93 passes in his two NFL seasons and it seems he will be a key part of the Jets’ offense again.
Keller often lines up in the slot, is an excellent move tight end and has the versatility to start in numerous spots in the formation. Even at 6-foot-2 and 248 pounds, Keller is very fast for the position. He has some after-the-catch ability and has a similar skill set to Indianapolis Colts star tight end Dallas Clark.
The Jets have never been bashful about sending Keller deep downfield. Sanchez is just in his second year and has an average arm at best. Keller’s availability in the short to intermediate ranges could provide a nice crutch for a quarterback who needs those around him to win one-on-one matchups.
Keller should see plenty of one-on-one matchups. The Jets’ No. 1 weapon remains their power rushing attack. With all of New York’s talented wide receivers attracting attention, Keller could see plenty of linebacker coverage -- particularly against AFC East foes that all feature a 3-4 defensive scheme.
Asking a heavier upfield outside linebacker to turn and run with Keller is recipe for trouble on defense.
Keller was a major force during the Jets’ 2009 playoff run and that success could carry over to 2010. Pundits don’t seem to be discussing Keller as much right now as they did a year ago, but I am predicting a breakout campaign for this dynamic pass-catcher.
Keller is going to be an important piece of the Jets’ passing game. This will be true even after Holmes serves a four-game suspension to start the regular season. Sanchez will be relying on Keller.
In fact, here is an early prediction: Keller will lead the Jets in receptions in 2010.
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