Health remains important factor for Jets’ late-round steals from 2023 draft

Jets offseason story
Nick Faria – AMNY

The New York Jets understand that having players that can provide depth is incredibly important for a team that is expected to compete for a Lombardi Trophy this season. 

That’s why Gang Green focused solely on the trenches and players that can provide that can of insurance throughout the NFL Draft this past weekend. Players like Will McDonald IV, Joe Tippman, and Israel Abanakanda all can help New York immediately and get some playtime. 

Others like Carter Warren and Zack Kuntz are coming off major injuries, but have intangibles that could light up an organization. When Warren was selected in the fourth round out of Pittsburgh, the team knew that he was recovering from a torn meniscus but also understood his potential as a swing tackle was certainly needed. 

The fact that he was a Jets fan growing up was just an added bonus. 

“It’s huge. Growing up watching the Jets, I’m about 20 minutes away from the facility. I played at MetLife (Stadium) growing up, so it’s a pretty cool experience to get this opportunity,” Warren said after his selection. 

Warren went on to say that he will be 100% coming into the Jets rookie minicamp beginning this week. 

The same can also be said for their seventh-round tight end, Zack Kuntz. Kuntz missed the later part of his Old Dominion season with a knee injury that had him fall until the final round of the NFL Draft. The talent he showed though both at Penn State and with the Lions was something that scouts had raved about. 

“We were sitting there at the top of the seventh round and just going through some of the guys who just had that freak factor to him and he was right there at the top – the size, the speed, the length, the jump, just everything and another guy who may have been drafted a little sooner if not for the injury this year,” Jets general manager Joe Douglas explained. 

Douglas wasn’t wrong. Of all the tight ends coming out of college, Kuntz had the highest RAS scoring of any dating back to 1987.  That level of size, speed, and athleticism could help the Jets out in the passing game more than any other late-round selection could. 

And the fact that he’s also healthy and ready to partake in off-season activities is another added bonus. 

“I had a really great recovery, obviously it was good. I competed at the combine. It was my knee, I had a procedure done on my knee, working on my kneecap to help strengthen it from kind of sliding out. Obviously, it’s been feeling really great. I haven’t had any issues with it whatsoever. The recovery has been going awesome, I’m ready to go,” said Kuntz. 

Late-round picks that work out are very rare. Teams usually look for athletic traits during this time to see if they can mold players into being what the team needs them to be. Warren and Kuntz both have long ways to go and plenty of players to beat out if they want to make the 53-man roster. 

But if their tape and intangibles mean anything, the Jets could easily have found two diamonds in the rough that are finally healthy. 

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