With improved depth and a bevy of players who seamlessly fit the scheme, does the NY Jets’ offensive line have top-10 potential?
The New York Jets‘ offensive line has long been one of the weakest position groups on their entire roster.
Things have changed.
Now, the Jets’ offensive line depth chart boasts an improved second-string unit, high-end young talent, and plenty of players who project as excellent fits in Mike LaFleur‘s wide-zone run scheme.
It seems reasonable to think that this offensive line has the potential to be one of the NFL’s top-half units if things break right. But exactly how high can it climb? Is top-5 unrealistic? Could a top-10 ranking be within reach? Or is merely a top-15 finish the most realistic ceiling at the moment? Even if top-15 is as high as it can go, that would still be massive progress considering how bad it has been in recent years.
The player whose fate will have the greatest impact on the collective performance of the Jets’ offensive line is undoubtedly Mekhi Becton. At only 21 years old, Becton was already a solid starter as a rookie despite being considered a “project” type of prospect. Still boasting incredible upside thanks to his physical gifts and already establishing a high floor in Year 1, it is hard to place a cap on Becton’s ceiling.
To Becton’s right is the 14th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, Alijah Vera-Tucker. Becton and Vera-Tucker will form one of the most intriguing side-by-side offensive line duos in the league, building a wall on Zach Wilson‘s blindside. Vera-Tucker’s refined technique, wide-zone-ready athleticism, and top-notch smarts should give him a good chance of playing at a high level from the get-go.
In the middle, Connor McGovern will be looking to forge a bounceback season in pass protection after a troublesome 2020 in that phase. However, McGovern’s excellent run blocking tends to be underrated by fans, making him a far more competent player than most observers seem to realize. His lateral athleticism and short-area quickness will make him a great fit in the Jets’ wide-zone offense.
The right guard spot is the unit’s biggest question mark, with Greg Van Roten seemingly being the favorite to win the job after manning it last year. Van Roten certainly isn’t “good,” per se, but he has proven to be a fairly decent stopgap. There will be close to a dozen teams with a starting right guard who has a worse track record than Van Roten.
Finally, the late-offseason addition of Morgan Moses at right tackle brings the unit’s potential to a whole new level. A durable veteran who is coming off of a career-best year in terms of statistical production, Moses brings solid pass blocking and top-tier run blocking to the Jets’ front.
One of the best aspects of Moses’ arrival is what it does for the second-team offensive line. Previously, the Jets would have had to rely on the combination of Chuma Edoga and Conor McDermott as their backup tackles. Now, George Fant slides in as the top backup tackle. Fant is a substantial upgrade over those two players.
In the interior, Dan Feeney is set to play the backup center role while Alex Lewis, Cameron Clark, Tristen Hoge, and Corey Levin are the prime competitors to push Van Roten for the starting right guard spot and then compete for the backup guard spots behind Van Roten and Vera-Tucker.
Leading the unit is offensive line coach John Benton, who comes over from San Francisco after turning a bottom-tier unit into a top-tier one over four years alongside LaFleur and Robert Saleh.
It has been a long, long time since the Jets had so much positive energy surrounding their offensive line. Will the unit live up to the hype? Or, is the optimism surrounding it a little too overblown?
On the latest episode of the Cool Your Jets podcast, Ben Blessington and Michael Nania break down the strengths and weaknesses of every player on the Jets offensive line and project where the unit will rank out of 32 teams in 2021.
Think that optimism was a bit overhyped