Greg Van Roten has a shot to give the Jets a considerable upgrade at right guard over the maddeningly inconsistent Brian Winters.
Here’s everything you need to know about Long Island native and potential Jets starting guard Greg Van Roten as he looks to win a starting spot and help carry the offensive line back to respectability.
Three positive stats to maintain
Excellent 2019 pass protection
From a statistical perspective, Van Roten had himself an excellent season as a pass-protector in 2019.
Van Roten’s Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade of 74.3 ranked at the 76th percentile among qualified guards. He allowed 17 pressures over 427 snaps in protection, a pressure rate of 4.0% that ranked at the 69th percentile.
Over 1,763 offensive snaps for the Panthers from 2018-19, Van Roten committed only four penalties (two in each season). That’s an average of 2.3 per 1,000 snaps, less than half of the 2019 average for guards (5.1).
Despite entering the 2020 season at 30 years old, Van Roten has only spent two seasons as a starter in the NFL. An undrafted free agent out of Pennsylvania in 2012, Van Roten bounced between various practice squads and the Canadian Football League until eventually getting his shot as a starting guard for the Panthers in 2018.
Van Roten’s numbers were subpar in his first season as a starter, but they took a sizable jump in his second year. He leaped from the 38th percentile in overall PFF grade among guards (60.8) to the 70th (65.6), also ascending from the 37th percentile in pressure rate allowed (5.8%) to the 69th (4.0%).
Two negative stats to improve
Van Roten’s run-blocking is not nearly as renowned as his pass-blocking. In 2018, he ranked at the 30th percentile among guards with a PFF run-blocking grade of 54.9, while in 2019 he inched up to the 42nd percentile with a grade of 57.3.
Lack of rushing production in his direction
Carolina’s run game was top-notch behind Christian McCaffrey, ranking sixth in yards per carry (4.7) and ninth in rushing DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average). In addition, McCaffrey ranked second among qualified running backs with an average of 2.2 yards before contact per carry.
However, McCaffrey was less productive running in Van Roten’s direction than in any other. On attempts directed to the outside shoulder of the left guard, McCaffrey averaged 3.0 yards per attempt, his worst rate among any of the eight charted directions. He also failed to pick up a single touchdown or first down over 24 carries in that direction.
Interestingly, the story was much different in 2018. That year, McCaffrey averaged an incredible 7.0 yards per attempt to the outside shoulder of Van Roten, his best rate of any direction. McCaffrey picked up an impressive total of 11 conversions (two of those being touchdowns) over 31 totes behind Van Roten.
While Van Roten may not have been entirely responsible for those excellent numbers considering his sub-par individual grade, it goes without saying that the Jets would gladly take that level of production however they can get it.
Three plays that showcase Van Roten’s ceiling
Van Roten is not going to pop off the tape with his power, athleticism, or size. He relies on his technique and smarts to win battles.
In this one-on-one matchup, Van Roten eats up a bull rush as he lands his punch cleanly before the defender can make contact and then chops the defender’s arms down to pummel him into the turf.