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Will Connor McGovern transform the OL? | New York Jets training camp primer

Connor McGovern
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Connor McGovern could put an end to years of futility at the center position – which in turn may change the fortunes of the entire offensive line.

Here’s everything you need to know about freshly-signed Jets center Connor McGovern as he prepares to man the middle of a revamped offensive front.

Three positive stats to maintain

Clean pass protection

McGovern’s better phase thus far has easily been the passing game. In 2019, among 32 qualified centers, McGovern ranked fifth in Pro Football Focus’ pass-blocking grade (82.5) and 10th in pass-blocking efficiency (per-snap pressure rate allowed with greater weight to sacks). He allowed just 15 total pressures over 16 starts and 566 snaps in protection, including just one sack and three hits.

The difference in quality between McGovern’s pass-blocking and that of his predecessors is night-and-day.

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Across four games in which the Broncos faced one of the league’s top-20 interior defensive linemen in total pressures (Calais Campbell, Chris Jones, Maurice Hurst, Sheldon Richardson), McGovern allowed zero sacks, zero hits, and one hurry.

Respectable run blocking

While McGovern’s run-blocking needs to improve for him to become an elite center that thrives in both phases, it is respectable enough to compliment his pass-blocking and make him a strong overall player.

McGovern earned a run-blocking grade of 64.0 from PFF in 2019, which ranked 16th out of 32 qualified centers.

The Broncos averaged 1.31 yards before contact on rushes between the A-gaps (to either side of the center) in 2019, which ranked 18th in the league and was barely below the NFL average of 1.37. Comparatively, the Jets ranked 29th with an average of 0.85 yards before contact on those runs.

Following Denver’s Week 10 bye, McGovern’s run-blocking grades began to improve mightily. From Weeks 11-17, McGovern posted a run-blocking grade of 73.2 that ranked eighth-best among centers over that span. Still thriving in the passing game, McGovern’s improved performance in the run game powered him to a 77.7 overall grade over the final seven weeks, fourth-best at the position over that span.

Low penalty count

McGovern was not called for a single penalty over his 1,013 offensive snaps in 2019, giving him the most snaps without a penalty among centers.

That total also stands as the third-most snaps without a penalty by a center in a single season since 2010, trailing Max Unger‘s 2017 season with the Saints (1,038 snaps) and Chris Myers‘ 2010 season with the Texans (1,067 snaps).

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Two plays that showcase McGovern’s ceiling

McGovern has the athleticism and technical proficiency to effectively handle one-on-one battles against productive interior rushers. Here, McGovern takes on Kansas City’s Chris Jones, who ranked second among interior defensive linemen with 4.5 pressures per game in 2019. McGovern stays balanced and does not fall for Jones’ sidestep move, catching him on the chest and plowing him away from the pocket.

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