NY Jets must prioritize the interior offensive line in free agency

NY Jets (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets are in need of massive upgrades along the offensive line, but they absolutely must prioritize the interior offensive line in free agency.

It’s safe to say that the NY Jets didn’t see the production that they wanted out of their offensive line in 2019. After making a few stop-gap additions in the offseason, the hope was that the offensive line would be improved after a below-average 2018 campaign.

Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what happened.

The team’s two former Pro Bowl signees fell flat as both Kelechi Osemele and Ryan Kalil were out of the starting lineup by the midway point of the season. Meanwhile, the likes of Brian Winters and Brandon Shell proved to be subpar starting options.

Altogether, there are very few pieces on the roster right now to get excited about. The only player expected to be given a starting role in 2020 is 2019 third-round pick Chuma Edoga and he struggled immensely in his rookie season.

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The likes of Kelvin Beachum or Alex Lewis could return as well, but realistically the Jets need at least three new offensive linemen.

The team will turn to both free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft to upgrade up front. Both provide plenty of options to make improvements, but they must be strategic about how they allocate their resources.

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In order for the Jets to maximize their improvements, it would make sense for them to prioritize the interior offensive line in free agency.

The draft is stacked with offensive tackle talents at the top of the board with the likes of Andrew Thomas, Mekhi Becton, Tristan Wirfs, and Jedrick Wills Jr. at the forefront of a deep class.

The Jets are likely to target one of those four players with the No. 11 overall pick and the plan is for that player to be a stalwart at tackle for years to come. And with the right tackle position already filled for next season with Edoga as the starter, both tackle spots should be solidified.

Of course, every prospect is different and the Jets might prefer a player like Tristan Wirfs to play guard for a few years while he develops. If that’s the case, bringing back Beachum as a stop-gap makes sense.

But either way, it wouldn’t make sense to target one of the top offensive tackles over one of the top guards in free agency.

Players like Brandon Scherff, Joe Thuney, and Graham Glasgow should be high on the Jets’ list of priorities in free agency. Jack Conklin is a great player. Anthony Castonzo would be an instant upgrade.

But there are long-term tackle options available in the draft.

Meanwhile, the Jets will need a new center and at least one new offensive guard going into 2020. They’re more likely to find those players in free agency than in the draft.

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If the Jets are going to spend big money on the offensive line in free agency, it would be wise for it to be to fix the interior rather than the tackle position.