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Breaking down the New York Jets’ 2022 NFL draft plan at the offensive tackle position

New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas has done a commendable job through his first three offseasons of improving the Jets offensive line. The biggest concern for the group at the moment is arguably the depth at tackle.

The Jets currently have two offensive tackles they can feel confident in: George Fant and Mekhi Becton. This offseason, they lost Morgan Moses to free agency, a 16-game starter from a year ago. That leaves Conor McDermott as their primary backup tackle at the moment.

It should be a priority for Douglas and his staff to acquire a young offensive tackle in the NFL draft who can come in as a backup early on. If so, it would most likely happen in rounds three through five.

The top offensive tackle prospects and the best mid-round depth targets for the Jets in each part of the draft will be highlighted below.

Top-tier prospects

The consensus top four offensive tackles in the 2022 NFL draft are Ikem Ekwonu (NC State), Evan Neal (Alabama), Charles Cross (Mississippi State), and Trevor Penning (Northern Iowa).

The Jets will likely not end up landing any of these players. Of the four, the only one that seems to have a chance to be selected by the Jets is Ekwonu.

Ekwonu is one of the best prospects (if not the best) in the entire draft. New York could consider him the best player available at number four, but where he would play along the Jets offensive line with five starters already essentially locked in is the main question.

With the importance of run-blocking in Mike LaFleur‘s scheme, Neal is not the most logical fit with the fourth overall selection. Neal is considered much more refined as a pass-blocker than a run-blocker at the moment.

Cross and Penning could be valued around the 10th overall pick, although it doesn’t seem likely the Jets would take one of them over a player at another position (namely a wide receiver).

The final two offensive tackle prospects with late first-round value who could fall to the Jets’ early second-round picks (35 and 38) are Tyler Smith (Tulsa) and Bernhard Raimann (Central Michigan).

Smith and Raimann will probably be selected late in the first round. If one does fall to the second round they could be considered. However, it still feels unlikely the Jets would draft a backup offensive lineman with an early second-round pick.

Mid-round prospects

Douglas could begin to strongly consider drafting a tackle starting with the Jets’ third-round pick (69th overall).

There is a drop-off from the projected first-round tackle prospects to the next tier. At the earliest, these players will begin to go off the board in the mid-second round.

This bunch consists of Abraham Lucas (Washington State), Daniel Faalele (Minnesota), Kellen Diesch (Arizona State), Nicholas Petit-Frere (Ohio State), Max Mitchell (Louisiana), and Rasheed Walker (Penn State).

The first two likely to be taken are Lucas and Faalele. If either one makes it to the Jets’ third-round pick, they could be in consideration.

Lucas recorded a great Relative Athletic Score (9.73). He has produced as a pass blocker on the edge. Per PFF, he did not allow a sack in 2021 (78.6 grade for the year). In 2020, he only allowed one sack.

Faalele would bring a massive frame (6-foot-8, 384 lbs, 35 1/8″ arm length). He had a successful 2021 season (82.3 PFF grade, one sack allowed).

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Diesch and Petit-Frere seem to be valued in the mid to late third round. Either one could potentially make it to the Jets’ early fourth-round pick (111th).

In Diesch, incredible athletic ability is added (9.75 RAS). Petit-Frere was not consistently productive at Ohio State but is a former five-star recruit with the talent to grow.

Mitchell and Walker will likely be valued from the late third round to the mid-fourth. In 2021, Mitchell recorded a PFF grade of 94.8. Mitchell has experience at both left and right tackle (over 400 snaps at each position).

Walker started the last three years at left tackle. He did not play his best in 2021 (19 hurries allowed) but has the talent to improve.

Potential fifth-round prospects

If the Jets find better value in the third and fourth round at other positions, there are two intriguing tackles who could be available at picks 146 and 163.

Braxton Jones (Southern Utah) and Matt Waletzko (North Dakota) are two great athletes, which is the logical approach to take with upside on day three offensive tackles.

Jones recorded an 8.44 RAS headlined by his speed (4.97 40-yard). He also brings a ton of length (35 3/8″ arms).

Waleztko scored exceptionally well when it came to his RAS (9.95). In particular, his 7.26 3-cone time stands out. Waletzko also brings a great height and length combination (6-foot-7, 36 1/8″ arms).

When it comes to developing offensive tackles drafted outside of the first few rounds, having athleticism is usually a necessity to be successful.

Final outlook for the Jets

At some point, the Jets will have to improve their depth behind Fant and Becton. Drafting a young player into a backup role could pay dividends for Zach Wilson at some point in his second season.

In rounds three through five, with five total selections in those rounds, one offensive tackle should be added.

Starting in round three, Lucas would be a very good prospect to acquire. In the fourth round, if Diesch or Mitchell are available they could be in play for the Jets.

Having a young player begin his career in a reserve role behind two good starters would be the best-case scenario for the Jets at offensive tackle.

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Ryan Moran is a writer for Jets X-Factor providing in-depth analysis on all things related to the team. Email: ryan.moran310[at]gmail.com

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BigJetsFan1
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BigJetsFan1

Snap the ball, Zach runs for his life, punt. That’s not entertainment which is all football is. How about, snap the ball, Zach scans the field waiting for Moore to break free, ball delivered with perfect mechanics, touch down. The only way we start seeing great offense is with a top offensive line. Injuries are part of the line equation. They will happen. I would love Icky at 4. He can play guard or tackle. He can come in to give a breather to an O lineman to keep the line fresh. Van Rotman shouldn’t be allowed in the building.… Read more »

hh11212
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hh11212

I would love Lucas in the third, but I think good chance he goes in rd 2. Probably trade back from one of your 2nd round picks if you like him.

Jimjets
Member
Jimjets

Definitely a huge need. Our depth is a concern and I’d take a gamble with ANY of the mid tier prospects over what we currently have. Can’t do it early – at least I hope not. We need skill players on O and D before more linemen.

rex
Member
rex

“… where he would play along the Jets offensive line with five starters already locked in is the main question.” This is the most short-sighted argument against drafting Ekwonu at 4. The starters are, to date, absolutely NOT locked in as NO ONE can outright name the EXACT starting LT OR the EXACT starting RT. Furthermore, the argument assumes the Jets offensive line has inexplicably become the MOST DURABLE unit in the league after 3(+?) seasons of multiple injuries along the entire line. Anyone comfortable with McDermott, Edoga or a DEVELOPMENTAL rookie subbing in for either Fant or Becton as… Read more »

Jimjets
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Jimjets

Rex. I love Icky and Neal. Believe me. And linderbaum and Zion Johnson and others. I just think we have to a) hit the other QB b) score points. And to me edge and receiver are 1st round priority. If JD takes O line in the first round I’ll support it but I don’t think he will. Maybe with a trade back we can afford it in the second round with the extra pick.

Peter Buell
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Peter Buell

Jim, there has been talk about a trade with the Saints with the Jets giving #4 and getting #s 16 and 19. That giving us in the in the first two rounds #s 10, 16, 19, 35, 38. I’d go wr at 10, one of Wilson Williams or London. Next Karfalitis followed by cb Kiaar Elam filling 3 needs. 2nd round OT Bernard Raaiman in case there are Bechton issues. Would love if Linderbaum were still here. At 38 I’d go safety with Lewis Cine or Jaylen Pitre and at 69 LB Trey Anderson. Further down I’m not well versed… Read more »

Jimjets
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Jimjets

Interesting Peter – you think Elam will be the best corner at 19? Anyway, yea, well done…I literally can’t wait at this point.

ncjetsfan
Member
ncjetsfan

While a trade down with NO sounds intriguing, and could be great, taking a WR at #10 and Karlaftis as our Edge, would be dumb imo. At best, Karlaftis is only the 5th or 6th best Edge prospect in this draft. He sounds like a great kid, a hard worker, and a nice story, but he doesn’t have the speed or motor that the Jets need. If the Jets trade back with NO, the pick at #10 has to be Jermaine Johnson if he’s still there. If not, JD will have blown his chances to add two great players in… Read more »

Grover31
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Grover31

There’s still rounds 2-7 and a bunch of 2nd tier free agents available. It’s not like your stuck with McDermott as backup OT if you don’t draft Ickey at 4.

Jimjets
Member
Jimjets

Exactly, I think we got Morgan Moses in June last year. Guys shake free

ncjetsfan
Member
ncjetsfan

We were extremely lucky to get Moses last year. Players like him don’t usually shake free in June or later.

rex
Member
rex

2nd tier free agents are essentially Connor McDermott and Chuma Edoga. At best, they’re simply not good enough to have earned a contract with their former team. At worst, they’re long in the tooth and/or injury prone. Not exceptional when you have a team in the Jets who cannot shake the injury bug season after season. And hoping a good to great OT gets released AND chooses the Jets seems about as naive as it gets. Those options don’t always present an upgrade or even lateral move at OL for the Jets. This season should be all about getting Wilson… Read more »

Jimjets
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Jimjets

Morgan Moses was far, far better than Edoga or McDermott. By far.

rex
Member
rex

And he still couldn’t beat out Fant for the starting RT position. Also, sitting around hoping someone “shakes free” is like waiting until prom night to start asking girls to the prom.

Jimjets
Member
Jimjets

Love your passion jet brother. I want who I want you want who you want. We’ll know in exactly 6 days. Either way hope JD nails it and we start winning again. That’s what we all want.

Grover31
Member
Grover31

Nobody is expecting a good to great OT to shake lose and sign on to be the jets back up lol. We’re talking about Morgan Moses types, someone solid enough to step in in case of injury. You’ll never build a successful team if you spend all your time making sure you’re eight deep with pro bowl linemen

rex
Member
rex

So, Morgan Moses wasn’t good? And what kind of idiot math finds ONE OT added to 4 good to slightly above average linemen equates to EIGHT pro bowl linemen?

Azuma76
Member
Azuma76

The Jets line will be fortified with plenty of depth after the draft you’ll see

rex
Member
rex

DEVELOPMENTAL depth. NOT a plug and play option WHEN Becton gets hurt again or Fant proves his 2021 performance was the result of substandard competition at Edge.

Grover31
Member
Grover31

So to be clear Moses was good but the current linemen are slightly above average? And which lineman are you leaving out altogether?

ncjetsfan
Member
ncjetsfan

In addition, a “shutdown CB” is more myth than reality. I read a month or so ago that there have only been two in the NFL over the last 20 years, and Revis was one of them. I forget who the other was. The odds of Gardner or any other CB in this draft becoming a “shutdown CB” are slim and none.

Azuma76
Member
Azuma76

The Jets should not draft a lineman until the 3rd round. Lots of guys will drop and that will be the spot to take a solid backup o linemen. The Jets need playmakers on both sides of the ball, Sauce at 4 and edge rusher with the next pick. i say that because of the deebo situation

rex
Member
rex

A rookie backup does nothing for the Jets WHEN Becton gets hurt again or Fant proves his 2021 performance was the result of substandard competition at Edge.

Azuma76
Member
Azuma76

So why would you want to draft another ROOKIE OL when he will not possibly start at that pick? You are contradicting yourself young man. Either way he’s going to be a rookie backing up the starters. Waste of a pick at 4 for OL

ncjetsfan
Member
ncjetsfan

Becton is staying healthy this season and is going to play at an All-Pro level. Our OL talent is a LOT better than you give it credit for. Besides, an OL’s play is all about their play as a unit, and much less so about individual talent. Barring injury our OL will be very good this season. If our OL can’t stay healthy this season, then our training staff should be fired, and perhaps the practice regimen changed. Some teams have stopped practicing as much o r changed the way in which they practice, and they’re having fewer injuries.

ncjetsfan
Member
ncjetsfan

We don’t have any picks in the 6th or 7th round, and chances are after the 2nd or 3rd round at best, you aren’t going to find an OT who could step in and play at a quality level this season. There’s nothing out there in FA at OT, either. The only hope would be a camp cut, and that’s not likely to happen.