Offensive linemen are more important than a franchise QB
By Michael Pallas
The New York Jets have been searching for decades to find a franchise quarterback, but they need to prioritize offensive line first.
One of the major takeaways from the Week 2 matchup for the New York Jets against the Detroit Lions is their offensive line is atrocious. The Jets have said they want to build through the draft. However, in their history, they’ve built their offensive line both through the draft and free agency and have been successful.
In 1998, they signed two key free agents. One at left tackle (Jumbo Elliott), and one at center (Kevin Mawae). That season, they went to the AFC Championship Game and came within a half of going to the Super Bowl.
In 2006, they spent two first round picks on a left tackle (D’Brickashaw Ferguson) and a center (Nick Mangold). In 2009-10, they made it to consecutive AFC Championship Games. Most people expect the Jets to take quarterback Sam Darnold in the 2018 NFL Draft if he declares and they end up with the No. 1 overall pick.
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The Jets, however, should not do that. They have a clearly stated goal as pointed out by Darryl Slater of NJ.com. General manager Mike Maccagnan told reporters this in April 2015:
“I think historically, when you look at teams that are successful, one of the things they do in the draft is they find value in offensive line prospects that they can kind of grow and develop.”
If the Jets finish with the worst record in the NFL, they need to consider using the No. 1 and 33 overall picks on offensive linemen. You can have a franchise quarterback with all the talent in the world, but if he’s always running for his life or flat on his back, he does you no good (just ask David Carr). The draft is full of No. 1 overall picks at quarterbacks that are labeled as busts. Here a just a few of the names: Carr, JaMarcus Russell, Tim Couch, and Jeff George.
Even though the sample size is small, offensive tackles have been more successful that quarterbacks when they’re selected No. 1 overall. Ron Yary and Orlando Pace were the first two ever selected No. 1 overall (29 years apart), and they both ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Jake Long is a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, and Eric Fisher is an above average offensive tackle who will get his share of accolades.
The Jets need to learn from the Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts on how to and not to build their franchise. The Cowboys built their offensive line first, then they landed a good running back and quarterback. The Colts, on the other hand, landed their franchise quarterback and built poorly around him.
Must Read: Grading 2017 inside linebacker situation of the Jets
Build the foundation, put the rest of the house together, then add the roof at the end.
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