As the Jets get close to training camp, I am examining the roster and giving you my top 25 players. Each weekday, we will reveal another person on the list, leading right into camp. I am not including rookies on this list because I do not feel it is possible to fully evaluate them before they play a game.
No. 6: Chris Herndon
Last year’s ranking: 10
Age on Opening Day: 24
How acquired: Selected in the fourth round of the 2018 Draft
Years left on contract: 2
2020 Salary Cap figure: $917,381
Looking back at 2019
Big things were expected from Herndon in his second season, but it ended up being a total washout for the tight end.
The 2019 season began with a four-game suspension from the NFL for violating the personal conduct policy. Then, he pulled his hamstring while training just before the suspension ended. That cost him another four games. He returned to face the Giants in November, but that comeback lasted 18 snaps when he broke a rib, which ended his season. Herndon ended up with just one catch for seven yards all season.
Herndon had a really strong rookie season in 2018 with 39 catches for 502 yards and four touchdowns. He and quarterback Sam Darnold showed instant chemistry.
Outlook for 2020
The Jets enter this season with the same hope for Herndon they had last year – that he can build off a strong rookie season and become a key target for Darnold.
After the way last season went, Herndon will now face questions about staying healthy and whether 2019 was an anomaly or a sign of things to come.
All indications are Herndon is fully healthy and ready to go. Herndon looked like a steal in 2018. He could be a huge factor in Darnold’s development. The two of them became close off the field in 2018 and it carried over onto the field.
The Jets might have a nice tight end combination with Herndon and Ryan Griffin, who excelled in Herndon’s place last season. There has been a lot of focus on what the Jets are lacking at wide receiver, but they could make up for that with a strong performance from their tight ends.
Herndon also showed that he was a good blocker as a rookie, so I think he could help the Jets’ running game as well as the passing game this season.