The New York Jets are looking ahead to the 2020 NFL Draft as they attempt to remake their offensive line in the offseason. Some mid-round targets are already shining at the 2020 Senior Bowl practices.
It’s no secret that the New York Jets will be looking for offensive line help this offseason. With multiple new starters expected along the offensive line, the Jets will turn to both free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft to address their massive need.
While free agency could be a good way to land established, experienced veterans, the most successful offensive lines are built through the draft. And the draft process kicks off each year with the Senior Bowl.
The 2020 Senior Bowl is set to take place this Saturday, but the game is oftentimes secondary to the week of practice leading up to it. The week of practices kicked off on Tuesday with both the North and South teams taking the field.
There were a few notable standouts from the first day of practice, and chief among them were a few offensive linemen projected to be mid-round options in the upcoming draft. And that spells good news for the Jets who are very likely to double-up at the position this April.
LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry III excelled in his first day looking the part while matching up with possible top-10 pick Javon Kinlaw. Cushenberry was lined up at center — where he primarily played at LSU — but has the flexibility to play guard in the NFL as well.
The Jets have continuously passed on mid-round center options in recent years, instead opting for quick fixes like Spencer Long and Ryan Kalil in free agency before resorting back to Jonotthan Harrison when each struggled.
Hopefully things will be different this year and Cushenberry could be an ideal long-term solution at either center or guard — two positions the Jets will look to upgrade in the offseason.
But Cushenberry wasn’t the only offensive linemen who stood out on Tuesday. Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones impressed scouts lining up on both the left and right side of the offensive line.
Jones is seen as a major project with technical flaws aplenty, but the 6-foot-5, 311-pound senior has the size, length, and agility to be a special player at the next level.
Physically, he’s an elite prospect. And more efforts like this will show scouts that he’s further along in his development than initially anticipated.
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Much like Jones, South Carolina State’s Alex Taylor also impressed on Tuesday. And also much like Jones, he needs a good week of practice to show that he’s more than a developmental project.
Taylor is a physical freak standing at 6-foot-9 with massive 36 and 1/8 inch long arms and 11-inch hands. But at just 309 pounds, he still needs to fill out his frame and gain more strength at the point of attack.
He’s long and lanky which helps him with speed rushers around the edge, but his lack of core strength makes him a liability in the running game.
That said, we’ve seen offensive linemen make the jump from the FCS level to the NFL in a year — Houston’s Tytus Howard springs to mind — so there’s no reason why Taylor can’t make a similar leap if he continues to add some weight and work on his technique.
The Jets should have plenty of opportunities to address the offensive line in this year’s draft and they would be wise to keep an eye on the Senior Bowl to see which players could improve their draft stock.
As far as Day 1 of practices is concerned, the offensive line class came away looking stronger than ever.