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. 10: Chris Herndon
Last year’s ranking: Unranked (rookie)
Age on Opening Day: 23
How acquired: Selected in the fourth round of the 2018 Draft
Years left on contract: 3
2019 Salary Cap figure: $747,842
Looking back at 2018: Herndon was a breakout star for the Jets in 2018. His numbers are not eye-popping but he showed enough potential as a rookie for the Jets to believe he can be a cornerstone player for them.
Players began raving about Herndon during training camp last year. It took a little while during the season to see what the fuss was about, but he became a huge part of the Jets offense in the second half of the season.
Herndon played in all 16 games, starting 12. He ended the year with 39 catches for 502 yards and four touchdowns. His most productive game came in the first meeting with the Patriots when he caught seven passes for 57 yards.
Quarterback Sam Darnold and Herndon really clicked during the second half of the season. Herndon caught 27 of his 39 receptions in the second half.
Pro Football Focus graded him 12th out of 70 tight ends the site graded.
Unlike many young tight ends, Herndon was not a liability as a blocker. He showed he is a well-rounded tight end and can stay on the field for all downs.
Herndon also showed what kind of hands he has several times during the season, the most notable being a one-handed catch against the Packers in December.
Outlook for 2019: The Jets hope that Herndon can pick up where he left off at the end of last season when he seemed to get better with each week.
Herndon and Darnold showed some chemistry last year as rookies that should grow as they play more together. New coach Adam Gase will use Herndon as a red-zone weapon and also to create mismatches in coverage.
The only negative hanging over Herndon is whether he will be suspended to start the year. He pleaded guilty to DUI in January from an incident that occurred in June 2018 and faces discipline from the league.