The New York Jets should pass on the offensive tackle position at the top of the NFL draft
NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu, Alabama’s Evan Neal, and Mississippi State’s Charles Cross are not only the three best offensive tackle prospects in the 2022 NFL draft, but they are three of the draft’s best overall prospects as well.
And the New York Jets shouldn’t draft any of them.
Despite all three players possessing more than enough talent to be quality starters, New York currently doesn’t have the room in its lineup for a top-10 rookie. George Fant and Mekhi Becton will battle throughout training camp for the left tackle spot, while the loser of the competition will move over to the right side.
By all indications, the Jets have no immediate plans to move on from Fant or Becton.
Becton is returning from a knee injury that sidelined him for all but one half of a single game in 2021. Before his injury, Becton showed plenty of promise and a sky-high ceiling, making it unlikely that general manager Joe Douglas gives up on his first-ever draft pick so soon.
Meanwhile, the team reportedly loves Fant, and if he wins the left tackle job outright, he will likely be rewarded with a major contract extension from New York.
Even if the team plans to move on from either of its starting tackles after 2022, that still leaves whatever tackle they draft on the bench for their first season.
Planning ahead and preparing an eventual replacement for Fant or Becton is not a bad idea in a vacuum, but the Jets currently have too many other immediate needs to use premium assets on a backup. Gaps remain at defensive end, wide receiver, defensive tackle, and safety, with all four spots lacking starters. New York needs to finish building its starting lineup before starting to worry about depth in other areas.
Drafting another tackle for depth is sound logic, and the Jets will likely take one at some point in the 2022 draft. However, that depth can be found in the middle or later rounds for a wildly cheaper cost of acquisition than a top-10 pick.
Premium assets are at a premium for a reason, and after winning just four games last year, the Jets can’t afford to use one of their premium assets on a player who will make little to no early impact.
The Oklahoma Drill Podcast continues its preview of the 2022 NFL draft with a complete analysis of the offensive and defensive line classes.
With a brain trust that values line-play in the highest regard and various needs in the trenches, New York is all but certain to add multiple linemen at the end of April.
Tune in to the full show for breakdowns of the best Jets-fits at OT, IOL, DE, and DT.