The New York Jets will undoubtedly look to bolster their offensive line in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft. Here are three players they could target in the first round.
The New York Jets may be entering the offseason with an abundance of needs, but one need is evidently at the top of the team’s offseason checklist.
The offense could use a game-changer at wide receiver and the defense certainly needs an upgrade at cornerback and edge rusher, but there is no need on the roster greater than along the offensive line.
After a few offseason additions, there was reason to think that the Jets would host an improved unit in 2019. But countless and injuries and disappointments paved the way for a disastrous season from the Jets’ five-man unit up front.
Want your voice heard? Join the The Jet Press team!
Now, with a full offseason to correct the mistakes of previous regimes, general manager Joe Douglas will have free reign to remake the team’s offensive line. And with a top-11 selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, he should have the ability to do so.
The draft is top-heavy with three offensive tackles who are all expected to be selected in the top-15 picks. It’s likely the Jets won’t have their pick of the three, but they should at least be fortunate enough to have one of the following names still on the board when they select.
With that, let’s take a look at those top three offensive linemen the Jets should target in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Next: 3. Tristan Wirfs
3. Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
All three of the top offensive tackles have been fairly evenly ranked with each of the three listed as the top option available by different sources. Let’s first focus on Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs.
Wirfs comes from a long line of Iowa offensive linemen who have found success in the NFL. Names like Bryan Bulaga, Brandon Scherff, Marshal Yanda, Riley Reiff, James Daniels, and Austin Blythe continue to play at very high levels and they all got their careers started at Iowa.
Wirfs might be next-in-line for greatness.
The soon-to-be 21-year-old was named the Big Ten Offensive Linemen of the Year this season anchoring the right side of Iowa’s offensive line. He’s a plug-and-play starter with few technical issues and above-average athleticism for the position.
Some seem to think that his ceiling isn’t as high as the others on this list and question if he could properly transition to left tackle. Others feel that he might be better suited playing offensive guard in the NFL.
Regardless, it seems pretty clear that he’d be an immediate Day 1 starter for the Jets and an instant upgrade on the offensive line.
A technically-refined prospect from a school with a history of excellent offensive linemen? Sounds like a home-run draft pick to me.
Next: 2. Jedrick Wills
2. Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Much like the aforementioned Wirfs, Alabama’s Jedrick Wills is a superb right tackle prospect who should be an immediate starter at the NFL level.
Wills was named First-Team All-SEC in 2019 after a junior season that saw him shoot up draft boards. At the moment, he is a near-consensus top-15 pick with a good chance to hear his name called as early as the top-five.
CBS Sports latest mock draft has Wills going No. 3 to the Detroit Lions. And while other mocks and rankings value him a little less, it’s evident that he’s still a very talented prospect held in high regard around the league.
Wills is perhaps the best pass protector in the class with exceptional strength at the point of attack and refined technical abilities. Scouts have raved about his powerful hands and mobile feet that make him tough to beat around the edge.
Similarly to Wirfs, some have questioned if he could play left tackle in the NFL and feel that he could benefit from moving to guard. But given his incredible ability to curb opposing edge rushers, that seems like it would be a waste of his talents.
Wills would be an ideal fit for a Jets team looking to protect quarterback Sam Darnold and construct an offensive line built to defend the pass rush.
Next: 1. Andrew Thomas
1. Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
While there is no true consensus top offensive tackle in the class, Georgia’s Andrew Thomas has most often found himself at the top of boards around the league.
And that’s likely because of his incredible upside.
More from The Jet Press
- NY Jets: Jonnu Smith would be a smart free-agent target
- NY Jets: 3 non-quarterback trade targets on offense
- NY Jets expected to be ‘much more aggressive’ in free agency this year
- NY Jets: Patriots will not use the franchise tag on Joe Thuney
- NY Jets officially place the franchise tag on safety Marcus Maye
Out of the top three, Thomas is the most athletically gifted and possesses the exceptional power and speed blend to be a dominant offensive tackle for years to come.
Thomas has been voted First-Team All-SEC each of the last two seasons and was a Unanimous All-American in 2019. On top of that, he was awarded the Jacobs Blocking Trophy this season given to the SEC’s best offensive linemen.
The 20-year-old is a premier run blocker who might be pound-for-pound the strongest player in the class. And if he could improve upon his footwork a bit, there’s no telling where his ceiling could be.
Thomas is a little less refined than the other two on this list as his footwork needs work and his technique isn’t at the same level as others, but his size and agility give him a higher upside than any offensive lineman in this class.
Coming from a pro scheme while at Georgia, Thomas should be given an extra advantage when it comes to developing his game further at the NFL level. On top of that, he’s the only one of the three who started at left tackle in college.
If Thomas is still on the board at No. 11 when the Jets pick, they would be foolish to pass on the high-upside mauler.