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Draft

New York Jets: Top 2 ways to address offensive line in draft

By Jerry Romei
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July 29, 2012; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets offensive and defensive players line up prior to a play during training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets have a golden opportunity to fix their offensive line once and for all by addressing it in the first two rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Jets have had quite a busy offseason so far.  The ongoing negotiations with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick along with the retirement of D’Brickashaw Ferguson had left a lot of us fans in an uneasy mood.  But then, general manager Mike Maccagnan goes and pulls off a sneaky trade for offensive tackle Ryan Clady which, (if it turns out like we all hope) would be an upgrade at the left tackle position for years to come.

Related Story: Top 3 crazy draft trades that might happen

But there are still some big questions on this offensive line.  Are we really confident going into next year with Breno Giacomini as our starting right tackle?  How long is Nick Mangold going to continue to play?  Is Brian Winters our guy at right guard or will Jarvis Harrison make a push?

The first question is easy to answer.  NO.  Absolutely not.  Giacomini was a big liability in pass protection last year and if it wasn’t for the quick-strike play calling on offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s behalf we may have seen a lot more sacks on Fitzpatrick.

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The second question is a long shot.

With the ever-growing development of knowledge about players with CTE, you have to assume that more and more players are going to call it quits sooner rather than later, especially at positions that have constant head contact.

Mangold has been the most steady and reliable player the Jets have drafted in the past 15 years if not longer, but there is going to be a point where he either slows down, breaks down or calls it quits and the Jets need to be prepared for this.

The third question is tough one.

The demand for instant gratification from fans and organizations can run a player out-of-town quickly if they don’t perform right away.  Winters held is own last year after the injury to Willie Colon.  He has shown to be a tough hard-nosed player but the attitude can only get you so far.

Winter’s is an average run blocker and a below average pass blocker and definitely has some of his flaws hidden by being next to a future hall of fame center.  This regime did not draft him and I do not expect them to make a push to keep him or look forward to him being the guy that holds that spot on the line.

Last year, this regime did draft a guard in Harrison.  Coming out of Texas A&M, he was looked at as having a ton of talent but bad attitude.  He was on the practice squad for most of the 2015 season and was given a reserve/future contract in January. It’s tough to tell now whether he is going to be a major factor in the competition for right guard.  This offseason will tell whether he is or not.

Looking at the schedule that the Jets have been dealt, it is easy to say that they need as much consistency at every position as they can get.  In the first six games, they are playing teams that have high-flying offenses or dangerous defenses and they need to hit big in the draft.

Here are the two ways, or rather, players that can immediately come in and provide depth and impactful playing time for the Jets via this year’s draft.

Next: Take this top offensive lineman in the first round

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Nov 1, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Taylor Decker (68) against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive tackle Taylor Decker, Ohio State

Decker is a monster at 6’7 and 310 pounds.  He has a mean attitude on the field and a good reliable attitude off of it.  He is hard-working and very rarely makes mental mistakes.  Knows all his assignments and executes them well.  A tough and hard-nosed run blocker, smashing opposing defenders right in the mouth.

Decker is very tall and sometimes does not keep his pad level down allowing defenders to get underneath him.  This is something that can be fixed with technique and discipline which the Jets can develop him in.  He uses his hands and feet well and will be able to take on bull rushes and finesse rushes well.

There is a growing amount of pass rushers that are becoming dangerous from the right side but Decker can pick them up with ease and precision.  Keep in mind teams are no longer placing their best pass rusher on the quarterback’s blind side and having someone who can hold up at the right tackle position is very important.  He would be an instant upgrade at the right tackle position for the Jets and has the potential to be a long-term starter for many years to come.

Next: Draft this hidden gem of an offensive tackle in second round

Dec 31, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide tackle Ryan Kelly (70) protects quarterback Jake Coker (14) against the Michigan State Spartans in the third quarter in the 2015 CFP semifinal at the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 31, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide tackle Ryan Kelly (70) protects quarterback Jake Coker (14) against the Michigan State Spartans in the third quarter in the 2015 CFP semifinal at the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

Dec 31, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide tackle Ryan Kelly (70) protects quarterback Jake Coker (14) against the Michigan State Spartans in the third quarter in the 2015 CFP semifinal at the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive tackle/Center Ryan Kelly, Alabama

Kelly is one of the most pro-ready offensive linemen in this year’s draft and by far the best center.  Mangold is not getting any younger and to have a premiere center on a line that can make calls and help the signal caller out is not a luxury anymore, it is a necessity.  Any single time the Jets have not had Mangold in the lineup, the run and pass game have suffered tremendously.

He brings the intelligence and toughness that a team looks for in a lineman and work be a solid pickup for the Jets. It’s hard to believe that Kelly will be around for the Jets to pick in the second round but if he is, they need to pounce and ensure the position for the next 10-12 years.

If he is within 10 picks of them and not taken, they need to go up and get him immediately.  While it’s not advised to give up draft picks, but if a player of Kelly’s caliber is available for a decent price, do it.  Kelly would be a bit undersized to play guard but with the type of offense the Jets are running, that he could be a viable fill in at the position until it is time for him to take the reins at center from Mangold.

More jets: Ryan Fitzpatrick needs to wake up

Keeping whoever is playing quarterback safe is a top priority.  If it’s Fitzpatrick, it could lead to even greater success than we saw last year.  If it is a young gun like Bryce Petty or someone who is drafted then it is even more important to keep them safe to allow them to grow as a signal caller.  By addressing the offensive line with these two players, the Jets would set themselves up in a great position for the future.

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