New York Jets Position Group Grades: Offensive Line

New York Jets, Mekhi Becton

As the season looms, I decided to take a deep dive into each position group within the organization and grade each group. This offseason, New York Jets GM Joe Douglas devoted both financial resources and draft capital towards improving one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Now, the Jets enter 2020 with a diverse group of both young talent, productive starters, and vets looking to establish themselves. With a lot of high potential guys, stable vets, and some key talent, let’s take a closer look at how this line grades out.

LT: Mekhi Becton

The mountain of a man joined the Jets as the 11th pick in this year’s draft. As part of the core group of top linemen, Becton is already considered to be a potential star. His unique combination of size and athleticism makes him a weapon in the run game. Not only that, but he’s a solid pass blocker. His lack of advancement in terms of detecting pass rush moves is worrisome, but it remains to be seen how ready he is to handle the top pass rushers in the game.

LG: Alex Lewis

Lewis was an aggressive and vocal leader in that offensive line room last year. Now he’s carved out a role on the roster and as a starter. Right now, his health for Sunday is questionable. In the short term, Lewis is classified as an average starter, but a strong season could earn him a long term role in the green and white.

C: Connor McGovern

The prized signing of the offensive line and my favorite new addition is the key man up front. McGovern is one of the most underrated centers in the game. McGovern is one of the least penalized linemen in football and one of the highest quality centers. His veteran presence and skill will add stability at the center of the line and contribute to the cohesiveness of the entire unit.

RG: Greg VanRoten

A lifelong Jet fan will be a starter from day one. VanRoten is just like Lewis. Both want to be here. Are fighting for a job next year and are quality linemen, but not superb. VanRoten is a poor pass blocker and a solid run blocker. If he can just hold his own as a pass blocker and provide stability, that will be a big asset. In the end, my hopes are mid-level for VanRoten this season.

RT: George Fant

Fant is not a crazy talented right tackle. He’s not going to be the reason this unit takes a big step up. However, Fant is built more like a tight end than a lineman. His athleticism is the best of any lineman on this team. His ability to fit into Adam Gase’s scheme and be a lead blocker is something that is a plus for the team. Still, Fant is unproven and the most worrisome of all the starting linemen, and I’m intrigued to see if he develops throughout the season or if the Jets turn elsewhere.

Bench: Josh Andrews, Cam Clark, Connor McDermott, Chuma Edoga & Leo Koloamatangi

This bench is not one that is loaded with talent. Instead, it’s loaded with guys who have the potential to come in and be an average filler if need be. They’re cheap and young linemen who provide a lot of versatility. Two guys to watch in this bunch are Clark and Edoga. Edoga was a starter in the past and could slot in for Fant if he struggles. The rookie, Clark has the potential to be a long term fixture on this line if given a shot.

Grade: B-

This line is still not proven or where it needs to be yet. The lack of in-game reps together is worrisome. Still, the talent is there and the competitive fire. This is a group that could outperform this grade. If they can be improved, they could be the reason this offense takes a massive jump. If they don’t, they could once again be the detriment of the team.

New York Jets: Brian Winters could be an integral piece to a successful offense

New York Jets, Brian Winters

Brian Winters has been a veteran piece for the New York Jets for the longest time. This offseason has fogged up the future of Winters. With new additions across the board, the offensive line has undergone an extensive overhaul. As the offseason programs and now the preseason get hindered by COVID-19, continuity has become all the more imperative to success. With that said, all of a sudden, Brian Winters has just received a significant bump in his stock.

The Long Tenured Jet Is Efficient

Winters hasn’t been the most successful guard, but he’s been efficient at times. Despite battling injuries last season, he finished with a PFF rating of 62.4. That’s pretty underwhelming on the surface, but if you take a look back at his production from 2018, he was near the top half of offensive lineman in a few categories.

He allowed five sacks, which wasn’t great but could’ve been much worse over a 16 game span. He only had six penalties, which isn’t very bad. The very important stat, 1,001 snaps played, which was 17th best in all of football for linemen. Winters wasn’t spectacular. Nor has he ever been, but he’s efficient.

Why His Role Could Expand

With the lack of a preseason, Winters could make the roster and earn meaningful reps after all. Initially, it seemed as though Winters could be a cut candidate in the preseason. Now, with the lack of preseason, that eliminates the opportunity for the new pieces to gel in-game on the offensive line. With the lack of time to build chemistry, this could give Winters a leg up over his competitions, Greg Van Roten and Cameron Clark. Ultimately, Winters can provide a veteran leadership role for the rookies and new additions. As well as bring continuity on the overhauled line with the changing circumstances of the season. 

Should the New York Jets still be worried about their offensive line?

New York Jets, Mekhi Becton

The New York Jets committed to the rebuild of their offensive line this off-season, which was a problem that general manager Joe Douglas had no choice but to address.

The Jets ranked 31st overall in offensive line efficiency, which attested to their struggles at the quarterback position. Their adjusted sack rate was 9.8% on the season, as they turned over nearly every starting position on the line.

Ultimately, the Jets need their offensive line to mesh quickly and hit the ground running in 2020. They cannot afford to have an inexperienced unit without chemistry. The Jets made five moves in free agency to shore up the line.

They re-signed left guard Alex Lewis, left tackle George Fant, center Conor McGovern, guard Greg Van Roten, and center/guard Josh Andrews. They spent a relatively modest $40 million on all of the players acquired. In addition, they drafted Mekhi Becton with the 11th overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft.

Becton will likely slide in at left tackle, and Fant will move over to the right side. Overall, the Jets added nearly 2000 pounds to their offense of line. Interestingly, Andrews, Fant, and Van Roten were all undrafted free agents. Lewis and McGovern were later round picks. Becton is the highest of the bunch being drafted in the first round. A majority of their starters are overachievers at the NFL-level.

The new players added have 78 career starts, most of which are by McGovern over the last three seasons (36).

Overall, this unit has the potential to be solid, but they are also in a position to fall apart quickly. The majority of their players have minimal experience as starters or are average at best. McGovern made the transition to center years ago, and he solidified himself as one of the better options of the position given his new deal with the Jets. He was by far the best acquisition in terms of ready-talent. Van Roten is unpredictable, Fant is a solid run blocker but problematic in the passing game, and Lewis/Andrews are reserve options.

I believe a lot of the Jets’ success in 2020 relies on Becton, who will slide into a tough position with minimal experience against premium level talent at the collegiate level. Coming out of Louisville, Becton has faced off against some solid players, but his size might be an issue for him in the NFL. Stronger and faster pass rushers could expose his size and balance. However, he has exceptionally nimble feet for a player that’s 364 pounds. If he can adjust to the NFL quickly and protect Sam Darnold’s blindside, the Jets will be in decent shape moving forward.

The New York Jets could pursue Pro Bowl offensive guard Larry Warford

New York Jets, Larry Warford

You probably read that headline and thought, “Sheesh, how many more offensive linemen can this team sign?”. Quite frankly, Joe Douglas has spent loads of resources between draft picks and money towards fixing the offensive line. Although he’s done a great job, the New York Jets could add another offensive lineman who would turn the line into an above-average line. That lineman is the newly released 3-time pro bowler, Larry Warford.

Who is Larry Warford?

Larry Warford was a third-round pick by the New Orleans Saints during the 2013 draft. At 28 years old, Warford has started on the Saints offensive line since his inception into the NFL. He’s only missed a handful of games in that time, and he’s received three Pro Bowl nods in the last three years. Warford is a durable and talented guard. Had he hit the market at the start of free agency, he’d have been a hot commodity. Now, with the addition of Saints’ first-rounder Cesar Ruiz to pair with their other young offensive linemen, the Saints felt that Warford and his $12.9 million dollar cap hit (2nd highest next to Drew Brees) were not worth it anymore. Warford now faces a likely extensive market.

The New York Jets Should Target Him

As I previously mentioned, although the Jets overhauled their offensive line, you never say no to a Pro Bowler. The tackles and center position may be solidified, and the Jets may have established competition at guard, but Warford is an instant game-changer. His durability and leadership would make him an asset. If you release Brian Winters and allow Alex Lewis, Cameron Clark, and Greg Van Roten to compete for the other guard spot, then Warford can be a starter on the line.

The fact is, the Jets need to continue to improve and establish completion at a position that is still not all the way improved. Adding a Pro Bowler in his prime would take the Jets’ offensive line to another level.

New York Jets Sign Connor McGovern (Report)

New York Jets, Connor Mcgovern

Connor McGovern was ranked as one of the top free-agent offensive linemen on the market, and now he’s on the New York Jets. Despite missing out on Graham Glasgow, the Jets remained steadfast in their mission for a new center. The Jets were rumored to have interest in Steven Wisniewski, a long time Eagle with connections to Joe Douglas. However, they went after McGovern and signed him to anchor the center spot for the future.

The Contract

McGovern signed a three year 27 million dollar deal to join the Jets with 16 million guaranteed. He will get A LOT more guaranteed money than Fant and much more job security within the parameters. McGovern got a very similar deal to that of Matt Paradis, a guy, the Jets, struck out on a year ago.

His Role

McGovern, as previously mentioned, becomes the anchor of the center spot. He also becomes the best center this team has had since Nick Mangold. He is 26 years old (turns 27 in April) and will be a Jet for the foreseeable future. Boy, is he talented. McGovern played 1,019 snaps last year and was flagged zero times and only gave up a single sack. The guy is a beast. PFF graded him as one of the better young centers in all of football. Production-wise he is efficient, and he becomes a great young piece.

What’s Next For The Line

The Jets woke up and added McGovern and resigned Alex Lewis. The interior of the line could be entirely sured up with the addition of G Greg Van Roten from Carolina. He’d give them a very good interior line and allow the Jets to focus on the tackle spot and other areas in the draft.