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 unveil captains for the 2020 season

With takeoff scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Buffalo, the New York Jets revealed their 2020 captains on Wednesday.

The New York Jets unveiled their 2020 captains on Wednesday. Two men will each represent the offense and defense, while one more will lead the special teams unit.

Offense: QB Sam Darnold

Year three of Darnold’s Jets tenure will be his second year with the “C” patch. The 23-year-old previously held such honors in college at USC. Darnold has tallied an 11-16 record as an NFL starter thus far (including 7-6 last season) and has thrown for 5,889 yards and 36 touchdowns since his fateful New York entry in the 2018 Draft.

Offense: T George Fant

The veteran newcomer Fant is expected to be part of the Jets’ offensive line revolution. He’s the only fresh arrival to earn a patch, having spent the last four years in Seattle. Fant’s NFL journey is perhaps the perfect story for a young squad like the Jets. He entered the league undrafted out of Western Kentucky and his since transformed into a reliable blocking prescience.

Defense: S Marcus Maye

It’s about to be a big year for a certain New York safety that emerged from an SEC school and was drafted in 2017. Yes, Jamal Adams has (very publicly) moved onto Seattle, but Maye now takes over as the leader in the secondary in a contract year. It’s quite a comeback for Maye, who worked through a full season after missing ten games in 2018 due to injury. His Jets career has seen 178 tackles and four interceptions so far.

Defense: DL Steve McLendon

McLendon’s mere experience alone perhaps made him a shoo-in for captaincy honors. At 11 NFL seasons and counting (free agent arrivals Frank Gore and Joe Flacco are the only Jets with more tenure), McLendon, 34, is by far the most experienced green returnee. He has likewise risen from the ranks of the undrafted, spending seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers before changing addresses in 2016. This will be McLendon’s third year as a defensive captain.

Special Teams: S Matthias Farley

Yet another player who didn’t hear his name called at his respective draft, Farley has become a favorite of coordinator Brant Boyer for his special teams prowess. The 28-year-old Notre Dame alum played 13 games in New York last season after three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, picking up 188 tackles with a horseshoe on his helmet.

The Jets open their 2020 season on Sunday afternoon against the Buffalo Bills (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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: Reaction to Joe Douglas’s First 3 Days of Free Agency

New York Jets, Jordan Jenkins

Well it’s that time of the year again where every team in the league gives their fans hope for the new season by signing players to over-priced contracts but it seems the Jets didn’t get the memo. The Jets have gotten off to a sluggish start this offseason by being overly conservative in their approach towards free agents. General manager Joe Douglas has made some very savvy under the radar deals along with some deals that make you scratch your head.

Signing Brian Poole to a 1 year 5-million-dollar deal and Connor McGovern to a 3 year 27-million-dollar deal with 18 million guaranteed are key deals in Joe Douglas’s plan for the team, but he hasn’t been perfect. On the first day of the legal tampering period the Jets either whiffed on or completely ignored addressing either tackle spot and they got burned for doing so. The Jets missed out on solid players like Jack Conklin and Halapoulivaati Vatai who signed affordable deals that the Jets could’ve matched or even surpassed. The Jets ended up with George Fant who has been below average at best in Seattle and not only that, the Jets signed him to a 3 year 30-million-dollar contract with almost half of that guaranteed.

The patient and stable approach of Joe Douglas is a bit worrisome considering he was boasting about how the Jets would be major players in the offensive line market. In Joe Douglas’s defense it is very difficult to sell free agents on Adam Gase because he has shown his ability to alienate players no matter how talented they are. Joe Douglas has secured solid second tier players and still has more work to do in order to fill out the rest of this roster.

If Joe Douglas wants to have a successful free agency, I suggest that he becomes a little more proactive in his pursuit of talent that would fill the needs at cornerback and edge even if that means splurging a little.

OT George Fant signs with the New York Jets

New York Jets, George Fant

The New York Jets have made a move. They have signed offensive tackle George Fant. Fant has signed to a 3 year 30 million dollar deal with 13.7 million guaranteed.  Fant was a Seahawk since joining the team as a UDFA in 2016. Fant was a basketball player converted to a Tight End and then a tight end converted to an offensive tackle. Fant is athletic and a very good blocker. So what does Fant add to the team and where does he fit in the line?

Is Fant A Good Offensive Tackle?

George Fant is very talented. The jury is still out on how good Fant really is. Despite battling injuries, when Fant has played he has consistently shown signs of development. Fant was good rotating across the line and filling in for various players. Questions surround his durability as he has very few starts. However, when he has played he has been a great pass blocker. He has played 266 pass-blocking snaps and only allowed 2 sacks and 2 QB hits. If Fant can stay on the field he will be a good offensive tackle for the New York Jets. If he doesn’t work out, the Jets structured the deal to get out of it with a minimal cap hit next season.

How Does Fant Fit With The Team

Fant will immediately become a starter on the offensive line. He will likely be the left tackle until the presumed draft pick is prepared. When the pick is ready, he will likely move over to the right side. This move gives the Jets an option and as I’ve been saying for a while, the Jets needed a valuable offensive tackle. Fant will improve the tackle spot if healthy and allow the Jets to move to the interior offensive line and other spots. Fant is a potential value signing but if he can’t stay healthy then this move will have been a waste.