Did the New York Jets get an offensive line steal in UDFA Jared Hilbers?

New York Jets, Jared Hilbers

The New York Jets invested money into a lot of positions during free agency. Their biggest investment in the offseason was on the offensive line. They also spent two picks on the line as well. As they enter 2020 with a revamped line, they added another piece who was not drafted, and he may have the most potential of any UDFA. Jared Hilbers is that guy.

Strengths

The athletic tackle from Washington has a lot of potential. He caught the eyes of a lot of scouts at the East-West Shrine game and earned a lot of respect from scouts league-wide. Although he stood out, he didn’t earn a combine invite. The 6 foot 6, 270-pound swing tackle has a basketball background, which further depicts his overall athleticism. Hilbers is a moldable talent at tackle who has the ability to play anywhere on the line. If Hilbers continues to develop, he could provide immense versatility on the line. At Washington, he sat and developed behind two draft picks, Kaleb McGary and Trey Adams. He was able to shift all over the line wherever need be, and he played really well whenever he was on the field. His athleticism makes him a valuable piece to mold on the line.

Weaknesses

Lack of significant on the field reps is the only real qualm I have with Hilbers. Hilbers is a raw prospect as well who will need to be molded at the next level. The Jets depth at offensive line is plentiful as well. With Cameron Clark and Mekhi Becton also joining the Jets as rookies, Hilbers is going to have to compete for every rep. If he has one bad game, that could be it. Overall though, there aren’t a ton of flaws in Hilbers game, just need to see more reps to identify true issues, and that could be the reason the Jets don’t keep him.

General Outlook

Overall Hilbers projects as a swing tackle at the next level. Adam Gase loves his athletic linemen, and Hilbers fits the bill. If he excels in his opportunities on the field, expect him to stay as a depth lineman. He was a draftable prospect, and the Jets knew that. He got the second biggest bonus with 62,000 dollars. Hilbers is obviously someone the Jets staff likes, and if given the opportunity, he could be a steal. 

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: Adam Gase gushes over first round draft choice Mekhi Becton

New York Jets, Mekhi Becton

The New York Jets got a massive human being in Mekhi Becton, and Adam Gase is extremely happy about it.

The 2020 NFL draft was clear cut for the New York Jets, who desperately needed offensive line help to protect quarterback Sam Darnold. Investing a high round pick in a passer requires management to build around them and support them at all costs. General manager Joe Douglas did just that by selecting Mekhi Becton with their first-round pick.

Gase was also on board with Becton, expressing his initial interactions and excitement, per the New York Post.

“I think he’s a guy that can help us both in the run game and the passing game,” Gase said of Becton, who is 6-foot-7, 364 pounds. “When you’ve got a guy that size … when you meet him, that’s the first thing you notice, you just go, ‘Wow, this is a very big human being.’ I loved the first meeting we had with him at the combine.

“Before all this stuff was shut down, we got to sit down in Indy and go through some film with him. One of the first plays [offensive line coach] Frank [Pollack] had on, it was a run play and he’s pushing this guy. I mean, they’re 20 yards down the field. He might have given him a little late shove there … and Frank was kind of like, ‘a pretty good finish but a little late here.’ He goes, ‘Well, he should have thought about going down.’ I was like, ‘I like this guy.’ This guy has something to him. This guy has some nastiness to him. He’s the type of guy you want to be around.”

Becton entered the draft as one of the biggest linemen available. At 6-foot-7 and 364 pounds, the offensive tackle rated as one of the best in the draft class and was an easy selection for Gang Green. He will man the left tackle spot while new signing George Fant from the Seattle Seahawks will take over at right tackle.

While a few holes are remaining on the offensive front, Darnold can be confident that his protection scheme will be far improved in 2020. Having been sacked over 60 times in the past two years, it was about time the Jets allocated ample resources toward solving this group.

ESM’s Experts Grade the New York Jets’ Draft

New York Jets

ESM’s New York Jets experts look back on an eventful three days for Gang Green and pass their opening judgment.

Three days, nine picks, and seemingly infinite transactions later, the New York Jets’ 2020 draft proceedings are complete. 

How did they make out? ESM’s experts weigh in…

Geoff Magliocchetti: B

The concept of immediately grading drafts was tired and unfair before live sports were put on hiatus, but we’ve got nothing better to do, so here it goes…

It’s safe to say that, after Joe Douglas’ first draft at the helm, the Jets improved on all three sides of the ball. The draftings of Mekhi Becton and Denzel Mims are moves that are going to define the most hopeful era the Jets’ perpetual rebuild has seen in a long, long time. No long must their backfield saviors Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell conjure miracles to single-handedly win ball games. Defensively, the team strengthened their depth in both the pass rush (Jabari Zuniga) and the secondary (Bryce Hall). Even special teams enjoyed a must-needed boost. Third-round pick Ashtyn Davis can bolster a return game that sorely missed Andre Roberts (and later hypothetically fill in at safety if Jamal Adams or Marcus Maye depart) while Braden Mann is a great brand of insurance for an offense that struggles to reach the end zone consistently. Further strengthening their secondary depth with veteran Quincy Wilson was also a fine finishing touch.

The three-pick cluster on day three prevents this from being a perfect grade. Expected reliance on James Morgan to be Sam Darnold’s backup is iffy at best after last season’s understudy misadventures. Veteran backups/mentors for Darnold were there for the taking, so picking the young Morgan creates controversy where there is none. Additionally, while a spell option for Bell was necessary, it seemed a bit early to take Perine, especially with choices at need positions like guard Logan Stenberg or cornerback Reggie Robinson still on the board. They managed to salvage the session with another blocker, Charlotte’s Cameron Clark.

Dylan Price: B+

Build the Joe Douglas statue! Okay, not yet, but Joe Douglas had an excellent draft on paper. Douglas started the draft off with the high upside selection of the mountain of a man, Mekhi Becton. He followed that up with a savvy trade down to net an extra third-rounder and still grabbed Denzel Mims. Mims has high upside potential and could be a difference-maker immediately. Douglas grabbed Ashtyn Davis, the freak athlete from Cal. Davis could be the successor to Maye but will be a Swiss Army knife immediately.

La’Mical Perine, Cameron Clark, and Jabari Zuniga were two picks who can slot in as rotational players, but both have high upside. James Morgan was a questionable pick, but the Jets struggled to mount any offensive presence without Darnold. Morgan can at least be a developmental prospect at backup QB. Bryce Hall is a talented corner who may be their best steal because of a sketchy medical history. Braden Mann can be the punter for the long term future because he has a cannon for a leg. Joe Douglas had a B+ draft with significant upside.

Alex Wilson: A

The New York Jets did exactly what they needed to do in the 2020 NFL Draft: protect and support Sam Darnold. Having been sacked over 60 times over the past two seasons, Darnold needed to be prioritized and GM Joe Douglas did exactly that. Drafting Mekhi Becton instantly improves the line and opens up holes for Le’Veon Bell in the run game. If Darnold wasn’t satisfied with Becton in the first round, Douglas added a talented wideout in Denzel Mims in the second. A big, fast pass-catcher who can replicate Robby Anderson’s production and then some. If I were Darnold, I would be one happy camper.

Brendan Carpenter: B

Joe Douglas had a successful draft this past weekend. Taking Mekhi Becton at pick 11 gives them a mammoth of a lineman on the left side. He has some room to grow but could become a great tackle. The best move on Douglas’ part was trading down, though. Originally supposed to be at pick 48, he traded down to pick 59 and still got his receiver in Denzel Mims, someone Sam Darnold needed. Also, rather than picking a “possibility player” to end his night, he traded the pick for up-and-down veteran CB Quincy Wilson.

 

The New York Jets’ top draft picks are already a major part of team history

Mekhi Becton and Denzel Mims haven’t played a down with the New York Jets yet, but they’re set to play a major role on the team timeline.

Ah, the NFL Draft…host of the most inconsequential grade you’ll receive since your final semester of high school’s report card. At least back then, your bout of “Senioritis” would’ve featured activity that could be analyzed and calculated well enough to place a lettered grade upon it.

Even before live sports were put on hold, we have the sports-loving public have been fascinated by the concept of draft grades. These awards are bestowed months before the draftees will play a down, even weeks before they don the helmet of their choosers. That’s of no consequence to thoughtpieces across the nation, as prospects have their entire career decided for them in a blink of an eye (heck, this site is no exception). By this logic, Jalen Hurts should probably retire immediately.

But, in our world of endless, instant content demands, and draft grade pieces are certainly coming in more clutch than ever, whetting the appetite of we, the sports-loving people, famished of live content for tough but understandable reasons.

Of course, it’s hard to truly complain about immediate draft grades when high marks are attached to your team’s ledger. The jeers of Jets fans are a bigger part of draft lore than Mr. Irrelevant and hand-size comparisons combined. Even downsizing things to a virtual setting couldn’t silence the boobirds. But Joe Douglas’ first draft the general manager helm has earned positive reviews, particularly his choices at the top. Louisville blocker Mekhi Becton (chosen 11th overall) will provide protection for Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell. A surprise draft night tumbler, Baylor receiver Denzel Mims (picked 59th after a deal with Seattle) appears to be one of the biggest steals.

Time will tell if they, along with the rest of the sizable class, can live up to the rave reviews. But, for better or worse, Becton and Mims are already crucial landmarks on the Jets’ timeline.

It seems hypocritical, especially so after lampooning the concept of draft grades, to place such a judgment on this current crop of prospects, particularly the top two. Alas, it’s a weight placed on these top rookies by a demon that makes itself far too prevalent on draft day: forces beyond the rookies’ control.

The fates of these top picks have been written by the Jets’ latest fortunes. It is they who will be judged and relied upon to end the team’s postseason drought, which will reach a decade if they miss out this year.

Douglas’ opening stanzas have provided what feels like the most legitimate sense of hope in a long time. Jamal Adams’ future is uncertain, but, for now, he’s the face of the franchise. A duo of backfield saviors has emerged in Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell. To protect them, Douglas went on a shopping spree of offensive linemen, an area long neglected on his predecessor Mike Maccagnan’s watch.

Somehow, the ultimate judgment on what Douglas is trying to build is going to come down to how Becton and Mims perform.

Douglas’ free agency deals have come with a common theme: prove it. The Jets’ have inked 13 free agency contracts this season. Only one (Connor McGovern’s three-year, $27 million contract) features no potential out prior to 2022. Greg Van Roten and George Fant, for example, each got multi-year deals, but there are out clauses after the upcoming season.

Becton and Mims, however, are likely destined for four-year rookie deals. Not only will they have these lengthy contracts, but they’re both in a position to contribute immediately. Becton is going to be viewed as an anchor on the offensive line, especially if he’s set to shield Darnold’s blindside. Mims will be asked to contribute immediately with Robby Anderson gone.

A young New York resident was once told: with great power comes great responsibility. Such a resident was fictional, but the advice is all too real.

The depth of the receiver and blocking classes this season was potentially both a blessing and a curse for the Jets. They were able to get the men they wanted, but there’s major potential for second guessing. Did Mims fall for a reason? Will the Jets regret taking Becton instead of a receiver like Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb?

It’s these picks that can set the pace for the Darnold/Bell era. A Super Bowl is probably still out of reach in the immediate future, but these moves can build the team that makes the Jets attractive to championship talent. Hit these picks, and it’s the start of something big. Miss, and you’re right back where you started, albeit with all new faces filling the crucial positions.

Douglas went out this offseason and made plans for the team’s future. He, at least began, to make up for Maccagnan’s lost time on the line. With Anderson gone, he made the most out of a weak free agent class in Perriman once Amari Cooper re-upped with Dallas. But Becton and Mims, for better or worse, are going to be looked upon as the ultimate deciding factors. Some could even view them as finishing touches, depending on how optimistic the viewer is about the Jets’ either ending New England’s AFC East monopoly or nabbing the extra wild card spot.

It’s not entirely fair on either end. But that’s life in the NFL. The new semester has begun.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets land durable offensive tackle Cameron Clark on day 3 on NFL Draft

New York Jets, Cameron Clark

The New York Jets continue to load up on offensive linemen. Joe Douglas has reiterated his desire to build through the trenches and this pick continues to do that. Cameron Clark was a 1st Team All-Conference USA recipient last season and two year Captain for Charlotte, and now the formidable leader and solid offensive lineman joins the Jets.

Who is Cameron Clark?

Cameron Clark joined the Charlotte 49ers in his Sophomore year and made an impact at left tackle. Clark won team MVP for how he stepped up and made a difference. Then, in the past two years, he’s been a durable left tackle who’s started every game for the team. Clark is a very good run blocker who can assert his presence on opposing defenders. He likes to throw guys around. He didn’t get much time against high-level competition except for one incredible performance against Clemson.

He threw Clemson defenders around like rag-dolls. Clark is likely going to transition to the interior and become a guard. Having played left tackle, he could move to left guard and compete with Alex Lewis right away. Quite frankly, if he can develop into a formidable offensive guard, he would form a nasty combo with Mekhi Becton. Although he has flaws and will need development, I like this pick and it’s probably my favorite pick so far on Day 3.

Now What? What to Expect from the New York Jets on Day Two

New York Jets

The New York Jets added another stone to their blocking gauntlet in the form of Mekhi Becton. What comes next in Friday’s pair of rounds?

One pick down, seven to go. 

The virtual draft fun has just begun for the New York Jets, who will be on the board three times when the second and third rounds commence on Friday night (7:00 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2/NFL Network).

Many felt the Jets got off to a good start with the selection of Louisville offensive lineman Mekhi Becton at No. 11 overall, the team knows there is still work to be done.

General manager Joe Douglas knows about the big opportunity the Jets have on Friday. New York was allotted the 48th and 79th selections on the draft board and also own the 68th pick, obtained from the New York Giants in a trade for Leonard Williams.

“I don’t take this opportunity lightly,” Douglas said before the draft, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “We’ve got eight picks and four in the top 79. We have to do our best to get the right type of player, the right type of person that’s going to come in here and turn things around and get us going in the right direction. We’ve seen impact drafts make a real difference in a short time.”

What should Jets fans expect in the draft’s first post-Becton stages? ESM has three possibilities…

Catch A Receiver 

Becton’s name was called before any of the draft’s renowned receiving corps. Shortly after, the catchers flew off the board. Henry Ruggs was first chosen by Las Vegas immediately after the Jets’ choice. Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb respectively went to Denver and Dallas at Nos. 15 and 17.

Though the latter stages took out three more (Jalen Reagor, Justin Jefferson, and Brandon Aiyuk), plenty of viable options are still on the board and should be available by the time the Jets choose at No. 48. Clemson’s Tee Higgins and Baylor’s Denzel Mims might not make it there, but Michael Pittman and his strong hands could be a viable option. The sizable Laviska Shenault of Colorado is another intriguing Pac-12 product, while the small but speedy Chase Claypool of Notre Dame will draw suitors as well.

Though veterans will return (Jamison Crowder and the injured Quincy Enunwa) and they added Bredshad Perriman in free agency, the Jets are in need of explosive receiver help. Such an option can indeed be found on day two. Second-day yields on the receiver front from the past five drafts alone include Michael Thomas, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cooper Kupp, Chris Godwin, and Courtland Sutton, among others.

Defensive Struggle

This day two defensive struggle comes in the sweetest form: there are so many viable depth options for the Jets that it’s going to be hard to make a decision, even if a little extra capital is headed their way after the Williams trade.

While the Jets shored up their blocking on Thursday and will probably address their receiver situation at some point in the draft’s middle portions, the team must emerge from Friday’s proceedings with pass rush and secondary assistance. The former took on added importance during the first round, as Miami’s first selection means the Jets are going to have to deal with the arm and legs of Tua Tagovailoa twice a year in the near future.

The Jets dealt one of their premiere pass rushers to earn an extra pick, so it would perhaps be poetic to welcome in a replacement. It might be a little too much to hope for to see both Zach Baun and A.J. Epenesa to fall into the Jets’ grasp, but their comrade Yetur Gross-Matos might be well on his way. Bradlee Anae and Curtis Weaver have each made appearances in ESM mock drafts. In the secondary, Jaylon Johnson and Bryce Hall should be watched on the cornerback front.

Don’t Block the Idea of Another Blocker

The Jets’ offensive line has featured more renovation than an afternoon block of HGTV programming. Some saw Becton has the finishing touch, set to join a unit that already welcomed in George Fant, Greg Van Roten, and Connor McGovern (among several other depth additions) in through free agency proceedings.

But if Joe Douglas has made one thing clear, its that he views blocking as indispensable. His regime has done away with the blocking negligence of the Mike Maccagnan era and has instead brought it to the forefront of offseason concerns. Day two could be a day to stockpile depth on the line, ones who can stoke the fires of potential training camp competition.

Boise State tackle Ezra Cleveland is probably the top lineman available on Friday, but the Jets will probably look to bolster their interior units. Michigan’s Ben Bredeson would be an intriguing option in round three, as his experience on the left side could give returnee Alex Lewis some competition. LSU’s Damien Lewis could also put some heat on veteran Brian Winters.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: Arguments For And Against Drafting Isaiah Simmons

The 2020 NFL Draft is days away. The New York Giants hold the fourth overall pick, their third straight season picking inside the top-ten. General Manager Dave Gettleman is heading into his third draft as GM of the Giants and needs to put together a strong class in order to keep his job.

Holding a top-pick again, the Giants are in the position to add a franchise player this year. There are plenty of top-tier prospects that will be available to fill big positions of need. But which position should they fill? Should they take the best player available (likely Isaiah Simmons) or address the offensive tackle position? Simmons has been the fan-favorite selection for most of the pre-draft process. However, it might be time for fans to consider jumping off of the Simmons hype train and look into this year’s offensive tackle class.

Arguments For:

When Will It Be Time To Invest In The Defense?

In the last eight NFL Drafts, seven of the Giants’ first picks have been spent on the offense. The Giants’ defense only accounts for 35.85% of the team’s salary cap, ranking 30th in the NFL (via Spotrac). New York has barely invested in their defense and it shows with the team’s recent on-field performances.

Meanwhile, the Giants’ offense accounts for 49.48% of the team’s salary cap. More specifically, 22.13% of the team’s salary is spent on the offensive line. Dave Gettleman and company have made it a point to upgrade the offensive line and they have invested into it plenty. But offensive tackle is still one of the weakest positions on the team- and one of the most crucial. Maybe they should continue investing.

A Defensive Playmaker or An Offensive Tackle?

Which position of need is more important? An offensive tackle or a defensive playmaker? If the question were “Chase Young or a tackle?”, everyone would be in agreement that Chase Young is the right choice. But that’s not the debate.

The debate is between uber-versatile linebacker Isaiah Simmons and any of the top offensive tackle prospects. Which of the two options should the New York Giants spend their first-round draft pick on? The Giants do not necessarily have a hole at linebacker (after signing Blake Martinez and re-signing David Mayo), but really on the defense as a whole.

Teams can win games with a bad offensive line (see Seattle Seahawks). But it is nearly impossible to have a winning season with the defense the Giants currently have constructed. The Giants’ best players on defense are recently free agents James Bradberry and Blake Martinez- and they were brought in to replace Alec Ogletree and Janoris Jenkins.

They are upgrades, but the defense did not improve drastically this offseason and likely won’t unless they select Isaiah Simmons at fourth overall. He is a linebacker with the ability to man up on tight ends and excel in coverage.

Isaiah Simmons played over 100 snaps at five different positions in the 2019 CFB season. According to Pro Football Focus, Simmons played 100 snaps at strong safety, 116 snaps at outside linebacker, 132 snaps at free safety, 262 snaps at slot cornerback, and 299 snaps at inside linebacker.

If the Giants are looking to instantly upgrade their defense, look no further than Isaiah Simmons. He will fill the coverage role while Blake Martinez and David Mayo stuff the run. The defense would function at a much higher-level as early as this season. But the draft is not always about instant-upgrades. Sometimes teams need to plan for the future and play the long game. Investing in an offensive tackle would be the long-term solution rather than the instant-upgrade.

Arguments Against:

Talent At The Top Of The OT Class Is Loaded.

The top offensive tackles in this draft class are immensely talented. Draft analysts and experts have struggled to rank the top four tackles. Some have Mekhi Becton as high as the first-ranked tackle, others have him as the sixth-ranked tackle. There are many who believe Jedrick Wills is the best in the class while many others believe Wirfs or Thomas is the best in the class.

Regardless of where each expert has them ranked, they are all consensus first-round talents. The Giants would be finding an instant-starter (and a long-term starter) on the offensive line if they took one of those prospects at fourth overall.

Significant Drop-Off In OT Talent After The First Tier.

Those top offensive tackle prospects are great. Wirfs, Wills, Thomas, and Becton all have legitimate All-Pro potential. But after that, this offensive tackle class has a significant drop off in talent.

Second-round prospects, like Isaiah Wilson and Austin Jackson, are- simply-put- projects. They are not pro-ready. They lack technique but do possess ideal, large, strong bodies. NFL coaching might be able to turn them into capable starters but there is no guarantee. Fortunately, they are young and have room to grow, however, the Giants need an answer at offensive tackle sooner than later.

NFL Draft Watch: Top 5 OL Rankings

With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, over the next few days, I plan on breaking down the best and brightest talents in this year’s class. This offensive line class has a lot of good players. The core four have stolen a lot of the headlines, but how do they rank in my eyes and is there a surprise 5th guy who could join the party?

1. Tristan Wirfs, Iowa

Pro Comparison: Ronnie Stanley

Wirfs is the top guy in this class in my opinion. Wirfs has the most upside and the least downside. Wirfs has a few technical flaws and he needs a little more coaching and refinement. Aside from that Wirfs is a great prospect. Wirfs has incredible athleticism, size, and durability. Wirfs comes from an offensive lineman factory and he’s going to be a stud at the next level. Ronnie Stanley is an All-Pro tackle and projects to be the best-case scenario for Wirfs.

2. Jedrick Wills, Alabama

Pro Comparison: Jason Peters

Jedrick Wills is a great prospect. Good run blocker, excellent pass protector and a good resume. Wills has competed against the best of the best in the SEC, and now Wills is heading to the next level. Wills showed one technical issue, lack of effort. Wills is a superb talent, but there were a few plays where you can see he gives up after a spin move that he doesn’t adjust to. That can change at the next level. Wills biggest downfall for me is the move he’ll have to make. Many see Wills as a left tackle, but he’s typically played on the right side. If Wills has a smooth transformation, he can be a damn good player. Wills reminds me of Jason Peters. Peters is a quiet and steady lineman who does his job at a high level and gets it done consistently.

3. Andrew Thomas, Georgia

Pro Comparison: Laremy Tunsil

I like Andrew Thomas a lot. He is the safest offensive lineman. He’s proven against SEC completion that his transition should be smooth. He’s a good run blocker and good pass blocker. He’s a special player, but he doesn’t have a singular standout trait. Thomas is just a simple and good player. That’s all you can ask for an offensive lineman, Thomas is a steady player and I think his transition will be similar to Tunsil’s. Tunsil had success fairly quickly and provided stability on the left side for the Dolphins, Thomas can do that wherever he gets picked.

4. Mekhi Becton, Louisville

Pro Comparison: Jonathan Ogden

Becton is a monster. At 364 lbs, the man ran a 5.10 second 40 yd dash. Becton is superhuman and an absolute bully on the offensive line. Becton has the most upside of these prospects. If his athleticism translates to the NFL, he’ll be unstoppable. There was just a lot of inconsistency to me in his tape. Some plays he bullied edge rushers, other plays, simplistic stunts threw him off. Becton also is a scary prospect on the physical side. At 360 plus pounds, moving around quickly could cause wear and tear over time. Durability could be a question. If Becton proves to be durable and gains some more knowledge on preventing those stunts and spin moves from killing him, Becton could be the best of these top 4 guys. Jonathan Ogden brutalized defensive linemen, just like Becton has the potential to do.

5. Ezra Cleveland, Boise State

Pro Comparison: Nate Solder

Ezra Cleveland has shot up draft boards. Rumors are swirling he could end up as a first-rounder. Cleveland, Josh Jones, Cushenberry, Ruiz, and Austin Jackson are the tier 2 of offensive linemen. Cleveland has the most upside of all of them if he can gain some more mass. At 310 that sounds unreasonable to ask him to gain more weight, but Cleveland just needs to fill out physically. Cleveland has some flaws, but if coached properly, he can be a franchise cornerstone at the tackle spot. 

New York Jets #MockDraftMonday: April 20, 2020

ESM’s New York Jets experts present their final seven-round mock drafts as a big trio of days for Gang Green approaches.

The date of a full-on return has yet to be placed. But live sports are slowly working their way back into our lives. Friday saw the WNBA Draft staged in a virtual setting. NASCAR’s nationally televised virtual races returned over the weekend.

Football fans will get their fix starting on Thursday night, as the NFL Draft will likewise conduct their selection proceedings in a virtual arena (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC/NFL Network).

How will things shake out for the New York Jets? ESM’s experts weigh in and prognosticate in their final 2020 mock drafts…

Geoff Magliocchetti

1st Round (11th overall): OT Jedrick Willis, Alabama
2nd Round (48th overall): WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
3rd Round (68th overall): CB Jaylon Johnson, Utah
3rd Round (79th overall): S Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois
4th Round (120th overall): EDGE Kenny Willekes, Michigan State
5th Round (158th overall): WR Joe Reed, Virginia
6th Round (191st overall): RB Patrick Taylor Jr., Memphis
6th Round (211th overall): K Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia

The debate between a receiver and an offensive lineman has been more tightly contested battle amongst New Yorkers than the preference of Seinfeld or Friends as their favorite local 90s sitcom. But the Jets are in the enviable position NBC was placed in during that lucrative era: they’re placed in a situation where there is an endless supply of talent in the category.

Premiere picks are dedicated to filling both of these needs. Willis was the darling of the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, earning strong praise for his strength and athleticism. A deep receiver class would also yield the talents of Aiyuk, who tore apart the man coverage of the Pac-12 and developed a strong reputation as an earner of yards after the catch. Defensive needs are taken care of with the middle picks. Johnson and Chinn add depth in the secondary, while Willekes (18 sacks over the last two seasons) will raise the pressure on a division that will feature competitions against the multi-talented Josh Allen (and, possibly, Tua Tagovailoa if the Patriots or Dolphins opt to find their franchise quarterbacks).

This day three set would allow the Jets to not only address another offensive need, finding a spell option for Le’Veon Bell. The powerful Taylor could become a goal-line and short-yardage steal, especially if teams are still wary about an ankle injury that cost him a portion of his senior season. But day three could also afford the Jets an opportunity to bolster their special teams. The Georgia staple Blankenship could finally end the post-Jason Myers kicking carousel, while Reed could be the answer to Andre Roberts’ departure. Reed can also serve as a slot receiver, having earned 14 touchdown receptions over the last season seasons.

Dylan Price

1st Round (11th overall): OT Jedrick Willis, Alabama
2nd Round (48th overall): WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC
3rd Round (68th overall): CB Damon Arnette, Ohio State
3rd Round (79th overall): EDGE Jonathan Greenard, Florida
4th Round (120th overall): DT Larrell Murchison, NC State
5th Round (158th overall): OL Michael Onwenu, Michigan
6th Round (191st overall): WR John Hightower, Boise State
6th Round (211th overall): K Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia

Wills is the only pick that has remained consistent in this final mock draft, Wills becomes the anchor of the future. Pittman has familiarity with Darnold and could be the next steal from USC like JuJu Smith Schuester. Arnette is a talented outside corner who can be the next good OSU corner.

Greenard and Murchison have received a lot of interest from the Jets and would be ideal targets here to add defensive depth. Onwenu and Hightower provide size and speed respectively. Both could develop into could pieces but will begin as depth guys. Rodrigo Blankenship becomes the kicker for the future and rounds out a solid class for Joe Douglas.

Brendan Carpenter

1st Round (11th overall): OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville
2nd Round (48th overall): WR Jalen Reagor, TCU
3rd Round (68th overall): EDGE Bradlee Anae, Utah
3rd Round (79th overall): WR Bryan Edwards, South Carolina
4th Round (120th overall): CB Troy Pride Jr., Notre Dame
5th Round (158th overall): DE Jonathan Greenard, Florida
6th Round (191st overall): LB Mohamed Berry, Nebraska
6th Round (211th overall): K Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia

Taking a receiver with the first pick is tempting, but the Jets instead choose to sure up their offensive line. At 6’7″ and 364 pounds, Becton is a monster on the line. A flagged drug test at the combine has raised some questions and may make him available outside the top-10. I have gone back-and-forth between Reagor and Tee Higgins in the second, but I don’t see Higgins lasting to this pick. The Jets sure up their line in the first round and get Darnold a fresh target here. After acquiring the third pick from the Giants in the Leonard Williams trade, the Jets could look to add a new pass rusher. In 14 starts this past season, Anae recorded 13 sacks. His knack for finding the quarterback is the deciding factor here.

Edwards, at 6’3″ and 212 pounds, would be a solid target for Darnold. However, there are question marks. He missed his final two games with a knee injury and broke his foot while training for the combine. After taking Reagor in the second round, Edwards is another addition that could have decent upside. Cornerback is also a position of need for Gang Green. With Jeff Okudah most likely going in the top-five in the draft, there is no need to reach for one after that. Getting Pride Jr. in the third round would satisfy a need the Jets desperately need to address. He would slide in to play alongside Pierre Desir and Brian Poole in the secondary. He falls back past the original round three pick I had him at, so the Jets get their guy, just later.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags