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Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Breaking down the tight ends: Jets

By Matt Williamson

Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson breaks down the tight ends of each AFC East team. Today: New York Jets.

Dustin Keller is a heck of a weapon in the Jets’ passing game and needs to be a major factor. His skill set should make him Mark Sanchez’s best friend as the young quarterback learns his craft. Keller runs very well, is a good route runner and can make plays after the catch. He can line up in several different positions on the field.

Running behind Keller is a big problem, though. He doesn’t have the power, size or tenacity to get a consistent push. And in a way, Keller could be looked at as an underachiever. He hasn’t been the red zone factor that his skill set would indicate, and he could be more physical. This past season, he flashed his potential at times and really stood out in the AFC Championship Game. But he also disappeared too often, even though he got a lot of targets throughout the year. Keller started the season strong when Santonio Holmes was serving his suspension, but he had way too many drops. Keller didn’t score after Week 4. With Braylon Edwards and Holmes possibly leaving via free agency, 2011 could be an especially crucial season for Keller. He has a chance to be great.

Ben Hartsock complemented Keller well in that he is a pure blocker who doesn’t frighten anyone as a pass-catcher, but he is no longer on the roster. New York needs either Jeff Cumberland or Matthew Mulligan to step up in this role. Both players have excellent size, but each tight end has only one career reception on his résumé. Mulligan’s game more resembles Keller’s rather than Hartsock’s.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.