New York Jets UDFA Breakdown – TE Wes Saxton

Joe Caporoso with an overview of New York Jets UDFA TE Wes Saxton

With the recent season ending injury to Zach Sudfeld, a potential opportunity has been opened for New York Jets UDFA TE Wes Saxton. The New York Jets signed the South Alabama product shortly after the 2015 NFL Draft. Let’s take a closer look at Saxton’s game and where he could potentially fit…

Measurables

  • 6 foot 3
  • 248 pounds
  • 4.65 forty yard dash
  • 36 inch vertical

Comparable measurables from Mock Draftable: Daniel Graham, Garrett Graham, Dante Rosario, Ed Dickson, Dallas Clark, Daniel Hardy

Collegiate Production

  • 2012: 26 receptions, 336 yards, 1 TD, 12.9 YPC. 13 games played.
  • 2013: 50 receptions, 635 yards, 0 TDs, 12.7 YPC. 12 games played.
  • 2014: 20 receptions, 155 yards, 0 TDs, 7.8 YPC. 12 games played.

Pre-Draft Projections

NFL.com – 5th/6th round

Saxton has traits that have opened the eyes of some scouts. He can run and has the length and hands of an NFL tight end. His biggest draft obstacle is that his willingness and/or ability to compete as a run blocker limits his value to a team. Saxton needs to get bigger and show a greater commitment to improving all facets of his game. For now, he is a developmental prospect with athletic traits

CBS.com – 5th/6th round

His production, however, has come mostly out of the slot and in the backfield. He’s quite raw – both as a receiver and a blocker – but is a good-sized athlete with excellent speed to stretch the field. In a draft as weak at tight end as this one, those facts alone could make 2015 the first year South Alabama produces an NFL draft pick.

NFL Draft Breakdown – 5th/6th round

Daniel Jeremiah – Shrine Game Review

South Alabama TE Wes Saxton flashed at times during the week of practice. Saxton (6-4, 235) is a good athlete who was underutilized this season, finishing with just 20 receptions one season after snagging 50 catches. He has good hands and the speed to get deep, and he could end up as an intriguing third-day selection. Saxton — who played a lot of H-back this season for the Jaguars — admitted he needs to become a better blocker, but noted that while he needs improvement, “I am willing to block.”

The Player Review

Saxton’s skill set and athleticism is intriguing and probably merited a late round flier in such a weak tight end class, which raises a red flag as to why he wasn’t selected. He plays like an over-sized receiver more than a traditional Y tight end, which is where the position is moving to in many offenses. Saxton projects to a F/H “move” tight end, who will have primary value in the passing game.

The plays below are not flashy but they show where Saxton excelled in college. He could find a soft spot in the short passing game and turn up field to create extra yards after the catch. Despite Saxton catching the first pass from the Y or in-line alignment, most of his damage came from being split out in the slot or from the backfield.

Saxton has enough speed to attack the seam and high points this ball for a big play (despite double catching it). The more he can flash on plays down the field like this, the more likely he is going to stick in the NFL. The F/H needs to be able take advantage of linebackers and safeties who are split out to cover them in the intermediate to deep passing game.

The role he played in South Alabama’s offense helped lead to his decline in production last season, which certainly didn’t help his draft stock. Yet, Saxton has other issues beyond not being able to offer anything as a blocker yet. He tends to stay high on his routes and round them off which make him easier to cover, particularly from the slot. Below, he runs a sloppy attempt at a slant route and is easily covered/taken out of the play despite the middle of the field being wide open.

Here, he tries to get down the seam but is slow off the ball (or is maybe just playing against superior competition) but does not attack the ball at the highest point and actually still drops a fairly catchable ball over his shoulder.

Overall

It is hard to watch Saxton and not immediately be reminded of a current Jets tight end, Jeff Cumberland. Saxton is smaller and slower than him and the poor man’s version of Cumberland isn’t going very far in the NFL. However, with proper development if Saxton can fine tune his route running, catch the ball consistently and learn to find the soft spots against zone defenses (something Cumberland has been inconsistent with throughout his career), he may be able to stick as a situational player long term. A year on the practice squad in 2015 would benefit him greatly but with a strong summer he could put up a reasonable fight for the #3 tight spot, particularly with Zach Sudfeld no longer around.

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports