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Over the next week or so, we're taking an in-depth look at the rookie season for each of the Jets' 2019 rookie class. We continue today with a look at tight end Trevon Wesco, who was selected in the fourth round out of West Virginia.
On the face of it, Wesco had a disappointing season, as he only caught two passes, struggled in pass protection and did little to elevate the Jets' underwhelming running game. However, there were signs of usefulness throughout the season and some evidence of progression.
He typically had mixed results as a run blocker from the tight end position early in the season but seemed to improve his consistency as the season went along. He seemed to hold up well at the point attack and was able to handle assignments that required him to set the edge against defensive linemen while at times flashing dominance against smaller players in space.
The nationally televised loss to the Ravens was an interesting one for Wesco, as the Jets featured him more than usual -- and to good effect -- as a lead blocker from the fullback position. This led to Le'Veon Bell rushing for a season-high 87 yards. If the Jets are going to run a more varied running attack next year to try to unlock more of Bell's potential, Wesco could be a big part of that effort.
As noted, he struggled in pass protection, with Baltimore's Matt Judon beating him for a key sack of Sam Darnold in that Ravens game. However, it's worth noting that this was the only pressure he gave up over the last four games, despite the fact that his workload in pass protection was increased with Ryan Griffin unavailable. So there was some sign of growth in that area.
The rookie saw his role increase gradually over the course of the year and he eventually had 10 or more snaps in seven of the last eight games, having only done so twice in the first half of the season. Wesco ultimately played almost 200 snaps but probably wouldn't have played anywhere near as much as he did if not for injuries. Chris Herndon missed most of the season through injuries after returning from a suspension at the start of the year and his replacement, Griffin, also ended up on injured reserve down the stretch.
As noted, Wesco only caught two passes, although these were two nice plays that saw him leak out and then carry the ball upfield for gains of 15 and 32 yards.
Other than those two plays, the Jets didn't make any kind of special effort to feature Wesco in the passing game. The only time he was targeted in the preseason was on a fade route near the goal line which he caught over a defensive back for a touchdown that was negated due to a penalty. The Jets looked for him on a similar play at the goal line in the season finale, but that one would fall incomplete for his only unsuccessful target of the season.
In college, Wesco only caught one pass in each of his first two seasons, but when he was featured more in the passing game as a senior, he broke out with 26 catches. While Wesco could be a valuable contributor just with his blocking, the Jets will hold out some hope that he can develop similarly as a pass-catching threat at the NFL level. He ideally needs to do that to justify having been acquired with such a high pick.
With Griffin having been signed to an extension just before he got hurt and Herndon hopefully returning to action next season, Wesco has a good chance of being the number three tight end in 2020. Daniel Brown, who had an underwhelming year, is out of contract and the only other tight end currently signed for 2020 is recent addition Ross Travis, who is probably a long shot.
Wesco is arguably already the Jets' best blocker at the tight end position and has the potential to be one of the better blocking tight ends in the league, while also having the ability to play the fullback position. However, he will be considered a one-dimensional player until he can establish himself as more of a pass-catching threat.
As noted, Wesco could be a key factor in the Jets' efforts to get more out of Bell next season, assuming Bell returns. The Jets will hope he can build on the progress he showed over the course of the season to develop into a more consistent contributor.