TE Draft Pick for the NY Jets
The Jets picked Zack Kuntz in the 7th round of the NFL draft. Kuntz is a big tight end at 6’7” and 255lbs. He had the best scores at the Combine for vertical jump broad jump and 3 cone drill and the second best scores for 40 yd dash (4.55) short shuttle and bench press. Reading those numbers one wonders how this athletic freak fell to the 7th round. Outside of some questionable issues with his game Kuntz also missed a significant time in his senior year due to an ACL injury.
Kuntz originally started his college career at Penn State but after only catching 3 passes for 26 yards in 3 years he transferred to Old Dominion as a red shirt junior. In his first season at Old Dominion in 2021 he caught 73 passes for 692 yards and five TDs in 13 games. In 2022 his season was short with only 12 passes for 144 yards and 2 TDs over 5 games. It was here where he tore his ACl requiring surgery. This is a significant injury as an acl surgery is not a guarantee of return to the same level.
The numbers on long term return to play after an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the NFL is bleak. In a study of 312 ACL injuries in the NFL 174 or 55.8% returned to play, but only 28.5% remained in the league 3 years post injury. Quarterbacks were the most likely to return to play at 92.9% vs 53.7% for all the other players. Running backs, defensive linemen, and linebackers performed the worst after injury.
In another study on ACL tears in the NFL from 2013-2015 there was no difference in RTP for players with less than 4 years of experience compared with those who played longer, but there was a difference in RTP depending on where the athlete was picked in the draft. Players picked in the first 3 rounds were 4.44 times more likely to RTP than athletes picked in rounds 4 or higher.
He certainly has returned to form with his combine numbers. Hopefully this athlete can continue to do well and stick with his team.