All eyes were understandably on quarterback Sam Darnold on Friday, when the Jets began their three-day rookie minicamp.
But as Darnold fared mostly well in practice, tight end Chris Herndon could only watch. Herndon participated in position drills, but not in 11-on-11 team periods. He is coming off a torn MCL in his knee that cost him his final two games at Miami last year.
That means Herndon probably won’t be full-go when the Jets begin organized team activities practices May 22. Their final OTAs practice is June 7, and then they have a mandatory minicamp from June 12-14. Perhaps Herndon will be a full participant then.
In the meantime, Herndon is absorbing the playbook, while also trying to make sure I’m not overdoing it with his knee in practice.
Regardless if I’m on the field or not, I’m going to be locked in, he said. Mental reps are going to be most important.
The Hall of Fame selection committee hasn’t been particularly generous with tight ends. There are only eight tight ends in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and none of them got in on the first ballot. The last tight end inducted, Shannon Sharpe, was voted down twice before he was admitted in his third year of eligibility. If Sharpe (a four-time first-team All-Pro with three Super Bowl rings) had to wait, then Witten (a two-time first-team All-Pro with zero Super Bowl rings) will have to wait as well.
Witten may also be behind some more accomplished players on the list of first-year eligible players.
The only interior offensive lineman who makes sense for Dallas without being a reach is Texas’ Connor Williams. But starting with the Redskins at No. 13, several teams picking in front of the Cowboys have a need there, too. For now, it’s looking a ‘Bama pick is the first-round favorite for the Cowboys, either Ridley or Payne.
The Cowboys trade up for a linebacker. Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds and Georgia’s Roquan Smith are can’t-miss stat sheet stuffers on the outside, which makes both likely to go in the top 12. But right behind them is another rising former Crimson Tide star, Rashaan Evans, who is trending toward the top half of the first round.