Sun, 07 Jun 2020

Where Does PFF Rank Jets OL Among Most Improved Units

New York Jets
20 May 2020, 18:56 GMT+10

Jets general manager Joe Douglas has placed an emphasis on the offensive line since he took the job last June. Between free agency and the draft, Douglas added eight new faces up front and Pro Football Focus' Ben Linsey recently ranked the unit as the third most improved OL group in the NFL.

"The Jets are another team where it may be a case of quantity over quality with their offseason moves along the offensive line," Linsey said. "There is a case to be made that the players added will do a better job of protecting Sam Darnold and opening lanes for Le'Veon Bell in the run game.

"A lot of that comes down to what happens with first-round draft pick Mekhi Becton. His combination of size and athleticism is rare and it's what NFL teams were enamored with," Linsey said. "However, we wrote prior to the draft that his lack of true pass sets in a Louisville offense that heavily featured play action and designed rollouts in conjunction with his struggles when he did see true pass sets was cause for concern. That isn't to say he won't turn into a solid pass protector at the NFL level. He is coming off an 82.5 pass-blocking grade in 2019 with the Cardinals. We simply don't know as much about him in pass protection to say it's a safe bet. His run-blocking projections, on the other hand, are very favorable."

The Jets started 11 players on the OL last season and had nine different starting combinations. Their only returning opening-day starter is RG Brian Winters. Douglas re-signed Alex Lewis, who started 12 games for the Green & White at left guard last season and brought in T George Fant, C Connor McGovern, G Greg Van Roten and G Josh Andrews.

"From the free-agent ranks, both Connor McGovern (72.0 overall grade, 10th at center) and Greg Van Roten (65.6 overall grade, 15th at left guard) were solid starters on the interior in 2019," Linsey wrote. "If they carry over a similar performance in 2020, that would be a nice upgrade over what New York saw at those positions last season."

In last month's draft, the Jets doubled down at tackle, selecting Becton at No. 11 overall and Charlotte's Cameron Clark at No. 129 before signing undrafted free agent Jared Hilbers out of Washington. Both Becton and Clark offer position versatility and hold nasty mean streaks in the run game. Becton figures to project as a starter early on, but PFF believes Clark is a "potential wild card to draw snaps early."

"From a technical standpoint, he's already pretty advanced, which is rare from a small-school prospect," Linsey wrote. "Like all the other players, though, there's uncertainty. The Jets certainly made the offensive line a priority, but can Becton develop into a top-flight left tackle? Were the performances from McGovern and Van Roten last season what New York should expect moving forward? Regardless, the Jets should have done enough to ensure their line is improved in 2020. To what extent remains to be seen."

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