Which offensive tackles could the New York Jets draft beyond the first round?
There are two statements that can coexist in the same universe when it comes to the New York Jets and their 2022 NFL draft strategy:
- The Jets absolutely need to plan for the future and improve their offensive tackle depth.
- The Jets don’t need to use a first-round pick to do that, and considering the holes on their roster, they shouldn’t use a first-round pick to do that.
I’ve previously spoken at length about why the Jets cannot draft a tackle (or any offensive lineman for that matter) in the first round, which you can read about here.
Today I wanted to look at the flip side of that equation. If the Jets do not draft a tackle like Ikem Ekwonu or Evan Neal in the first round, then who should they target and when?
Here are five offensive tackles that the Jets could target in the 2022 NFL draft without using their first-round picks.
Abraham Lucas – Washington State
It’s criminal how little fanfare surrounds Abraham Lucas this draft season. The 6-foot-6, 315-pound tackle is coming off one of the most dominating seasons in Washington State history from an offensive tackle.
Lucas allowed zero sacks and just nine pressures across 477 pass-blocking snaps. When it comes to sacks, that’s a 100% success rate in protecting the most prized asset on any football team. He allowed a pressure every 53 snaps in protection.
According to Pro Football Focus, Lucas earned a pass-blocking efficiency of 99.0, which ranked No. 1 among tackles in all of college football.
Lucas was quite simply the best pass-blocking right tackle in the FBS in 2021. He then went out and put up a 9.72 RAS (relative athletic score) in the run-up to the draft (fifth-best among OTs). Both his speed and his agility scores came out as “elite”, making him a good fit for a Jets system that asks a fair amount of their blockers in space.
He may not play with the power you tend to see from a man his size, but Lucas’ body control and ability to move to the second level make him a scheme fit for the Jets. He’s spent his entire career on the right-hand side of the line at Washington State.
Some have Lucas going in the second round and some have him going in the third round. When all is said and done he should be off the board around pick 40-50.
Cordell Volson – North Dakota State
Who here doesn’t like a small-school prospect? I actually stumbled upon Cordell Volson while watching wide receiver Christian Watson.
What you want to see from these small-school guys is pure domination, and that’s exactly what you see with Volson. He allowed zero sacks and just six pressures across 323 pass-blocking snaps which is good for a pressure allowed every 53.8 snaps.
There are three things that stand out when you watch Volson: he’s a mean finisher, he gets excellent depth in his pass sets and he showcases good athleticism. He’s suited to a zone-blocking scheme.
Volson spent the majority of his time on the right side of the line for North Dakota, but he does have 139 snaps of experience at LT as well.
It doesn’t look like Volson will be taken before the third round at the earliest. He could be an absolute steal.
Andrew Stueber – Michigan
Andrew Stueber allowed one sack and 11 pressures over 427 pass-blocking snaps, had a 98.5 pass-blocking efficiency rating, and played for one of the bigger schools in college football. Yet he still doesn’t garner much fan attention around draft circles.
The Michigan man is a big body at 6-foot-7 while pushing 340 pounds on occasion. He has some experience playing inside at Michigan, but his plus length makes him a likely starting tackle at the next level.
Stueber is a little different from the two previous mentions in that he’s a bit more of an old-school power lineman who’s at his best in a phonebooth and driving off the ball. That’s where he’s at his best, but he does have the power and athleticism to do more.
I’m not sure how much of a fit Stueber is with the Jets considering the quantity of zone runs they call, but I just think he’s being really undervalued in this draft cycle and someone is going to get a bargain around the fourth round.
Zach Tom – Wake Forest
Zach Tom is one of my absolute favorite prospects in the draft for the Jets. He has extensive experience at both center and left tackle, and a handful of reps at right tackle as well. I don’t think he has the length to play left tackle at the NFL level, but he plays with pristine technique, so as a swing tackle and versatile offensive lineman, he’s extremely valuable.
Back in 2019, Tom played the entire season at center and allowed zero sacks and 12 pressures on 555 pass-blocking snaps, which is good for a pressure every 46 snaps.
In 2020 and 2021 he was asked to play left tackle for the Demon Deacons and while he did an admirable job manning that position, allowing four sacks over 1,003 pass-blocking snaps (1 sack every 250 snaps) and 25 pressures (pressure every 40 snaps), his future is likely inside.
It’s the versatility I like, and in a pinch, I’d say Tom can do a job for you at all five spots across the offensive line. People will say he’s not overly athletic, but his 9.71 RAS score would rank him as the sixth-most athletic offensive tackle in this draft (and the second-most athletic center too). He plays with outstanding leverage and a level of consistency that NFL teams will love.
Most have Tom going around the fifth round and for me, that’s value of the highest order.
Kellen Diesch – Arizona State
Kellen Diesch is coming off a fine season for the Sun Devils as their starting left tackle. He allowed two sacks and eight pressures over 413 pass-blocking snaps and had a pass-blocking efficiency rating of 98.7.
Diesch is a big man at 6-foot-7 but he doesn’t carry the mass that the height would indicate, as he’s come in under 300 pounds at times which may concern teams at the next level in regards to his ability to anchor against the power rushers.
However, Diesch does have nice fluidity to his game, and his movement to the second level is perfect for a Jets team that operates a lot of zone. He has good length and foot quickness to mirror on the outside.
His RAS score of 9.74 was good for the fourth-best among tackles in the draft. He scored an “elite” status with both his explosion and speed measurables, which does translate to the field with how quick he is off the snap.
Diesch has experience at left tackle at Arizona State, but I’m confident that he could play either tackle position at the next level. While he may need a year to add some mass and bulk to his frame, he’s a fantastic prospect that an NFL team can work with to develop into that swing player.
Most outlets have Diesch as a fourth-round player at this point, which again is excellent value in my opinion.
I agree with you on the need and the picks. Would like to trade down as well for more picks and to end up with Zach Tom for the flexibility across the line (assuming we don’t draft a true center) and any of the others as they fit in the draft board.
Well done. I think with two shrewd trades down we get enough extra picks to double down on real depth needs. 2 wr 2 ol 2 edge and still get a CB TE RB LB and S. Chuma and Connor McDermott need competition and hopefully can be upgraded.