A Focus On: Zack Kuntz
Good morning! ☀️
Happy schedule release day. How many primetime games will the Jets get this year? I’m going for 5. The maximum allowed for any single team is 6.
It’s time we took a closer look at this draft class and I’m starting at the end with Zack Kuntz, the Jets 7th round selection.
I’ve seen a lot of column inches dedicated to Kuntz over the last week, which you don’t often see for a player taken with the 220th pick in the draft.
So why are we so excited about a player who was bypassed by other teams 219 times? I’m taking a look at the Old Dominion tight end in today’s piece.
First, it’s time to get to the quick throws.
📈 ESPN NFL Reporter ranked the QB rooms around the league and had the Jets sitting pretty at #7 overall. It’s important to note that this is a QB room ranking and not a starter ranking, so I imagine Zach Wilson and Tim Boyle prevented the Jets from reaching any higher. The teams ranked above the Jets in order from 1-6 were the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, LA Chargers, and Baltimore Ravens.
2️⃣ Jason McCourty had an interesting column on NFL.com that highlighted the one player on each NFL team who’s easy to root for. D.J. Reed was the choice for the Jets with McCourty saying: “Reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Sauce Gardner gets a ton of love -- and rightfully so -- but Reed played his butt off in 2022. As part of a unit that kept the Jets competitive in most games last season, Reed logged 12 passes defensed, an INT, and a career-high 80 tackles. He deserves more love.” - I’m a huge D.J. Reed guy, so I love this.
📉 Eric Edholm who is the lead draft writer at NFL.com ranked the draft hauls from best to worst. Again this is based on pre-draft rankings and fan/media perception of player worth, so it holds little water. But it’s a discussion point nonetheless. “It feels like the Jets were very fortunate to land Joe Tippmann and Carter Warren where they did. Tippmann received some late Round 1 buzz, and I thought Warren could go late in the third. Both could be in line to start at some point this season, perhaps earlier than some realize. The selection of Israel Abanikanda could end up being a real hit. With Breece Hall coming off an ACL injury and Michael Carter still needing to prove his worth, "Izzy" could earn a role quickly and contribute right away with his vision and burst.”
🤝 Greg Auman who covers the NFC South for Fox Sports reported that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are hoping to hold joint practices with the Jets before their pre-season game in August, but they’re just waiting for the NFL to grant permission. I wasn’t aware that special permission was needed from the league, so I guess you do learn something new every day.
💰 The numbers on Billy Turner’s contract are a little lower than I expected. He’s set to carry a $1.5 cap hit this season with $1 million guaranteed. He can earn up to $300k in roster bonuses based on games played. It was initially reported the deal was worth just north of $3 million, so there will be some more incentives attached to this, potentially based on snaps played, the Jet’s progress through the season, etc.
👏 Rich Cimini reported at the weekend that the Jets and Quinnen Williams weren’t close on a contract extension, but Robert Saleh doesn’t seem overly concerned. Making an appearance on the Rich Eisen show on Monday, the Jet’s head of positivity said: “You’d have to ask Joe [Douglas], I’m very confident that he will get it done. I know reports were flying around this weekend but he’ll get done. I’m not worried about that one.”
For Zack Kuntz, it was always Penn State. Having grown up in PA and made several unofficial visits to Beaver Stadium, he was always going to stay home.
Officially, Kuntz was ranked as a 4* prospect and a top 5 ranked tight-end in the class according to every recruiting network. He fielded offers from top programs across the country including Ohio State, Michigan, and Alabama, but the Nittany Lions were in the driving seat from the get-go, especially when you consider his brothers Brandon and Christian played at Penn State too.
The commitment was seen as a coup for a Penn State program working back from the sanctions imposed after the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
As a high school senior his scouting report looked a lot like his pre-draft one. An extremely athletic tight end who needed significant work in the blocking game. He was a standout track and field athlete in high school competing in the high jump and hurdles and was part of the same recruiting class as current Steelers TE Pat Freiemuth. Although the recruiting class as a whole was headlined by Micah Parsons.
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