The NY Jets are very likely to select one of the top offensive tackles in the first round of this week’s 2020 NFL Draft. But which of those four should be their top target?
It seems all but certain at this point that the NY Jets will select an offensive lineman with their first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Sure there’s been chatter that the team could go receiver, but provided the board falls in a favorable way, that still seems unlikely.
Given everything we’ve seen from general manager Joe Douglas and his offseason roster-building strategy, it seems safe to say that the Jets will do everything they can to take an offensive lineman at No. 11.
But which one will it end up being?
Of course, much of that will be determined by how the board ends up falling. In reality, the Jets might not have much of a decision to make after all.
But if the Jets were given the choice between the top four offensive tackles in this year’s class, who would they take? And more importantly, who should they take?
It often isn’t as simple as just “taking the best available offensive lineman.” While fans gush over highlight reels of the top-end receivers, they often ignore the importance of the offensive line scouting process.
Just because you draft an offensive lineman, doesn’t mean you’re going to hit on that pick. In fact, the first-round is often a crapshoot at that position. You also have to take into account scheme/organizational fit which could oftentimes supersedes talent.
We did our best to rank the top four offensive tackles in order of who would be the best pick. In an ideal scenario, this is the order we’d want to see the prospects ranked on a hypothetical Jets big board.
Next: 4. Mekhi Becton
4. Mekhi Becton — Louisville
Before we start it should be stated that all four of these players are upper-echelon offensive tackle prospects. In a normal year, all four would likely be considered the top offensive tackle in their class.
But the football gods have blessed up with four excellent prospects and for that, the Jets should be counting their blessings.
However, if we had to analyze the four by pure risk alone, Louisville’s Mekhi Becton definitely has the lowest floor out of the group.
The 2019 first-team All-ACC selection is the living embodiment of a “people mover” standing at a whopping 6-foot-7, 364 pounds. He’s a mauler in the run game tossing aside defenders with ease — side note: check out his tape if you haven’t already, it’s so fun to watch.
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Becton projects as a developmental pass blocker with supreme upside if he could iron out the flaws in his technique. But it’s those very flaws that keep him from being ranked higher on our list.
Too often Becton will be overaggressive in pass protection lunging at defenders instead of allowing the play to develop. That sometimes leads to him getting beat across his face more than you’d like out of a possible top-10 selection.
Combine that with the fact that his 364-pound frame doesn’t exactly fit with the Jets’ preference for leaner offensive linemen and he might not be a great fit for Gang Green. Of course, there’s always the red flag that was the failed drug test at the NFL Combine to worry about as well.
Becton should have no trouble stepping in as a Week 1 starter and immediately dominating in the run game. But it may take some time for his pass-blocking to catch up and there’s no guarantee that it ever does.
The Jets need a sure thing, and for that reason, he can’t be ranked any higher on our list.
Next: 3. Andrew Thomas
3. Andrew Thomas — Georgia
If the Jets are looking for a player whose resume includes three years of stellar starting experience — primarily at left tackle — for a major SEC pro-style school, then Andrew Thomas will likely be their top target.
Thomas started all three seasons at Georgia, including 15 games as a true freshman that earned him Freshman All-American honors. In the two subsequent years, Thomas established himself as one of college football’s best offensive tackles earning All-American honors in both 2018 and 2019.
The 21-year-old is a powerful, nasty run blocker who can drive defensive linemen back five yards as effectively as he could climb to the second level and block linebackers in open space.
Thomas also has a lengthy frame at 6-foot-5, 315 pounds that allows him to handle speed rushers around the edge in pass protection. However, there are concerns about his overall foot speed and balance as a pass blocker.
The Georgia product will sometimes find himself flat-footed in pass protection and he must continue to iron out his technique at the next level. But the potential is there for him to be an early starter with Pro-Bowl-potential.
Ultimately, Thomas is a similar prospect to Becton albeit with a higher floor and lower ceiling. But what makes him rank ahead of Becton is purely based on his possible scheme fit in the Jets’ offense.
Thomas excelled in a West Coast scheme in college and quick passes could help mask his footwork deficiencies early on.
A prime example of scheme-fit trumping upside.
Next: 2. Tristan Wirfs
2. Tristan Wirfs — Iowa
No one knows the order in which the top four offensive tackles will come off the board come Thursday, but the one player who seems least likely to fall to the Jets is Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs.
Wirfs started three years at Iowa playing primarily right tackle earning first-team All-American honors in 2019 and being named the Big Ten’s Offensive Lineman of the Year.
At 6-foot-4, 320 pounds, Wirfs is exceptionally powerful at the point of attack and he broke numerous power-lifting records at Iowa showing off his incredible strength. On top of that, he isn’t solely a power-blocker.
Wirfs is very athletic for a player of his size and he has no difficulties exploding out of his stance and climbing into the second level. His background in track-and-field is likely one of the primary sources of his athleticism.
However, some scouts have concerns about his overall length as he lacks the ideal arm length generally desired to play offensive tackle. It wasn’t a huge issue in college, but some have projected that he might struggle with speed rushers around the edge in the NFL as a result.
But this is also the time of year that many tend to overthink things. Wirfs is an offensive tackle until proven otherwise.
And if anything, his versatility to move inside to guard, if need be, only further limits his chance of busting.
Wirfs would be an exceptional pick, but the concerns about his length keep him from being the No. 1 name on our list.
Next: 1. Jedrick Wills Jr.
1. Jedrick Wills Jr. — Alabama
Much like with Wirfs, it seems as though people are beginning to overthink Alabama’s Jedrick Wills Jr. Wills was widely considered to be the top offensive lineman in this class a number of months ago, but now it seems that there’s no general consensus.
What’s changed? In reality, nothing. Quite frankly, I have no idea what the discussion is about.
Wills is the premier offensive tackle prospect in this class and one of the very best players in the entire draft and he has the tape, measurables, and NFL projection to support that claim.
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The 20-year-old started the last two seasons at right tackle for Alabama but flew relatively under the radar until his junior season where he earned second-team All-American and first-team All-SEC honors.
Wills is an unbelievably complete pass-blocking prospect — better than we’ve seen out of any prospect in years. From his technique to his length/athleticism, there’s really nothing that would make you believe he won’t be an All-Pro caliber pass-blocker at the next level.
And even though his calling-card is his pass-protection, he’s far from a slouch as a run blocker ether. Wills plays with a mean streak that allows him to violently open up running lanes for his running backs.
The only knock on him? He only played right tackle in high school and in college.
However, it should be noted that Wills blocked for lefty quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in college meaning that he was technically defending his QB’s blindside. Not to mention that the distinction between left and right tackle is an antiquated thought process, to begin with.
Wills could and should be a stud in the NFL, whether that’s at left or right tackle. And that’s why he should be the Jets’ dream pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.