As the New York Jets prepare for training camp, here’s an early look at their current situation at offensive line.
Offensive line is not necessarily a strength of the New York Jets, although it’s by no means a weakness. Gang Green was hit with stunning news when D’Brickashaw Ferguson made the decision to hang it up, but general manager Mike Maccagnan strung together a quick fix. A pretty good fix too.
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‘Magic Mike’ sent the Denver Broncos the team’s 2016 fifth-round pick in exchange for left tackle Ryan Clady and a seventh-round pick. Much like the Brandon Marshall Chicago Bears trade last offseason, Maccagnan won the deal big time.
With the All-Pro, the Jets have themselves a stud who’s an obvious upgrade over Ferguson. The long-time Jet was never injured however, his production was becoming minimal as he continuously got beat off the edge.
The one issue for Clady will be staying healthy and he hasn’t done that as of late. He suffered a Lisfranc foot injury in 2013 which ended his season early and he tore his ACL in last year’s organized team activities. If he could somehow stay on the field as much as Ferguson did, New York would be in business.
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The Kent State product has begun his career with three up and down seasons that have many people wondering if he’s capable of being a starter.
Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey has said on numerous occasions that he’s comfortable with the majority of his linemen, so anyone can be on the hot seat.
Right tackle is the other weak spot on the line that the Jets could’ve addressed a tad bit more a few months ago. Brent Qvale is an intriguing option and they drafted Brandon Shell in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, but neither can realistically be a cornerstone piece. The same could be said about Breno Giacomini.
The veteran logged in yet another disappointing year and he truly doesn’t get enough blame for the Week 17 loss in Buffalo. There’s no hiding that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had a poor performance, however he was under pressure constantly and a lot of it was coming from the right side. Giacomini is a guy that must improve in 2016 or else he’s toast.
Ben Ijalana, Wesley Johnson, Craig Watts, Jesse Davis, Kyle Friend and Mike Liedtke round out the rest of the unit. Ijalana will more likely than not back up Clady at left tackle while Johnson is in line to be the second-string center/left guard. The other four are on the outside looking in with Friend having a slim chance at making the final 53-man roster.
If the Jets do choose to part ways with Johnson, Friend would in fact be the only backup center on the roster. Watts, Davis and Liedtke seem to be third and fourth on the depth chart at their respective positions for the time being.
Overall, Gang Green has pure talent on the left side of the line and at center along with solid depth. The one concern will be the right side and if somehow things click for them, New York has what it takes to be vicious in the trenches like they were not too long ago.