Should the New York Jets’ offensive line be expected to improve?

New York Jets, Mekhi Becton
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The New York Jets‘ offensive line has been disappointing the last few seasons, to say the least. Out of 32 teams and offensive lines, Pro Football Focus ranked them number 28. According to the PFF rankings, the Jets averaged just 0.7 yards before contact on rushing plays and allowed pressure in less than 2.5 seconds nearly 28% of the time. It is extremely hard for anyone to succeed with those numbers. The Jets certainly changed their line during the offseason and draft, but can they be expected to improve? Let’s compare last season’s depth chart with the one for this upcoming season:

Left Tackle

2019: Kelvin Beachum was the main player last season, playing in 13 games. In those games, he had seven penalties called against him, six of which were for holding. Those penalties totaled 63 yards against the offense. Aside from penalties, he allowed four sacks for a total loss of 30 yards. On the bright side, he did not commit any false start penalties throughout the season, which he did for the first time in his career. He was a regularity for the Jets, but a change was needed.



2020: As of right now, Mekhi Becton is slated to be the starter for the upcoming season. The newest first-round pick for the Jets has fans excited, and for good reason. The 6-foot-7, 364-pound tackle has great movement for someone his size. After playing 12 games in 2018 as a sophomore, he played 11 as a junior. Everyone seemed to have fallen in love with his combination of size, strength and athleticism to the point where his actual play is pushed aside. He has a high ceiling, don’t forget, but he has to sharpen his technique to reach it. He was able to rely on his size much more in college then he’ll be able to in the NFL. If he can improve on those skills somewhat during the season and power through his growing pains, he can be a major upgrade for Sam Darnold’s blindside.

 

Left Guard

2019: Kelechi Osemele was slated as the starter here but eventually had season-ending surgery. As a result, he played just three games. When he went down, Alex Lewis stepped in and started 12 of the remaining games but missed the Week 17 game against the Bills with an ankle injury. He did a so-so job filling in quickly. He was, however, called for six penalties, four of which were for holding. His play led Pro Football Focus to rank him number 57 out of 80 qualified guards.

2020: There is no change here, as Alex Lewis is returning as the current starting left guard. As a result, there isn’t much to dive into here. This shouldn’t be considered an upgrade, or a downgrade. This should, however, be seen as a good sign for this line going forward. In an offseason riddled with offensive line turnover, this should bring some consistency and familiarity to the group.

 

Center

2019: Jonotthan Harrison started the season as the starting center. He started 10 games, so let’s focus on him. In those 10 games, he had four penalties called on him. He played relatively well at center last season, though he mostly went unnoticed. Sure, he wasn’t playing at a level of a top center in the league, but he was a serviceable player on that dreadful line.

2020: The Jets gave former Broncos lineman Connor McGovern a three-year, $27 million contract to take over the center position. Although he was initially a guard, he moved to center last season and started all 16 games for Denver. Throughout all 16 games last season, he had zero penalties called against him. Zero! That is remarkable news for a player that moved positions. Jets fans should be excited as McGovern is a nice upgrade and should seriously improve the middle of the line.

 

Right Guard

2019: Brian Winters. That name is one that Jets fans have known for some time now. He has been with the team since 2013 when he joined as a left guard. After moving to right guard in 2015, he became the main guy for seasons to come. Throughout his seven seasons with the team, he has certainly had some ups-and-downs. He’s been somewhat inconsistent, but always found his way back onto the field. However, he has never been a “bad” guard. He’s been OK, but there was room to improve. The Jets certainly did that.

2020: The new starting right guard for the New York Jets is expected to be Greg Van Roten. After playing left guard the last two seasons for Carolina, and quite well I might add, he is slotted in as the starting right guard for the upcoming season. Over the past two seasons, Van Roten has started 27 games at left guard and has only been called for one penalty! Also, that penalty wasn’t even accepted or enforced. So, technically, he has had zero penalties that have hurt his team. Sure, right guard is different from left guard, but he should be able to adjust. He’ll be using the same mechanics and movements, just on the other side of the line. All in all, Van Roten should be a bright spot and improvement to the right guard position.

 

Right Tackle

2019: The right tackle spot was somewhat shared by Brandon Shell and Chuma Edoga last season. Last season was Shell’s fourth with the team, while Edoga was a rookie. Edoga had some growing pains, but that is expected as a rookie. He had some bad penalties called against him but, overall, it wasn’t an awful rookie campaign. He is expected to compete for the starting job this upcoming season.

2020: There should be some competition for the starting job come Week 1. Edoga played here last season and his familiarity should help him somewhat. However, the Jets also brought in former Seattle Seahawk George Fant. The one thing that might hurt Fant is that he played left tackle for Seattle. Yes, he could change to the right side, but there could be growing pains there as well. Also, he was not a consistent starter. Throughout his three seasons in the league thus far, he has started just 24 games and seven last season. He isn’t a huge improvement at right tackle, if he is at all. It’ll be interesting to see who wins the job. Either way, there should be an improvement in consistency from last season.

 

The offensive line for the New York Jets couldn’t get much worse than they were last season as a unit. There are new faces and players added in both free agency and the draft that should improve the unit. Overall, they should definitely be expected to improve upon their rank of number 28 last season.

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