Sunday, June 26, 2022

The 21-year-old from Jets will get the ‘Surprise Gem’ label ahead of 2022.

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In the third round of the 2022 NFL draft, the New York Jets made what they call a first-world problem pick.

Gang Green took on Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert at No. 101 overall, despite already having freehanded CJ Uzomah and Tyler Conklin.

The Athletic’s Connor Hughes initially appeared to raise an eyebrow at the selection, saying: “The Jets didn’t have to take Ruckert. They certainly had needs elsewhere.”

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Now, based on that initial introduction, one would think that Ruckert is simply a future pick and won’t make any real impact in Year #1, right? Not correct!

Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton recently predicted each NFL team’s surprise rookie gem for the upcoming season.

Now mind you, it’s a bit harder to find a gem when every selection of green and white made the first four rounds this year. However, Wharton prevailed and selected the former Ohio State product as his pick for the Jets:

“Ruckert can be a surprise gem even in a reduced role. He finished each of his last three seasons at Ohio State in the 77th percentile or higher in PFF’s run-blocking scores for tight ends and dropped just two passes in his career (to Jet X’s Michael Nania). He’s used to making the best of his opportunities in a small role and will be in a similar position to launch his NFL career.”

This is an astute observation by Wharton.

Although Ruckert had all the tools one should use on an offensive line, he was used situationally during his time with the Buckeyes:

The 21-year-old (who turns 22 at the start of the 2022 season) racked up those mind-blowing stats in four years at Ohio State.

While it wasn’t a lack per se, the Buckeyes just have a lot of really good players and there’s only one football you can have. Ruckert never complained about a lack of opportunities, he just embraced his role and went nuts.

Ruckert will immediately hit for an offense from the Jets determined to get back on the ground and the pound.

While this doesn’t yield many box scores on a week-to-week basis, it can often be the difference between a 4-yard win and a 60-yard touchdown.

Also, I wouldn’t count offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, who put together such unique packages to maximize Ruckert’s incredible physique at 6ft 5, 252 pounds.

Although in addition to what he will offer in his rookie campaign, his bright future has to excite fans around the world.

Ruckert will learn from two absolute pros in Uzomah and Conklin. Those experiences this year on and off the field should be paramount to his own development as he inevitably takes the torch to the streets.

We haven’t often seen the Jets so prescient with their draft picks. They usually have seven massive needs and whoever they pick has to fill those gaps on the roster immediately.

However, in this particular case, they can be very picky about how they use Ruckert and gradually work him into his later role.

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Also, I wouldn’t count offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, who put together such unique packages to maximize Ruckert’s incredible physique at 6ft 5, 252 pounds.

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