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NY Jets Post-NFL Draft State of the Roster: Offensive Line

NY Jets (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
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The NY Jets will sport a revamped offensive line unit in 2020

The NY Jets went into the offseason with one primary goal in mind — fix the offensive line.

After trudging through 17 weeks of abysmal offensive line play in 2019, general manager Joe Douglas knew that something had to be done. And that something was a complete overhaul of the five-man unit that started last season.

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Needless to say, the Jets’ offensive line will look vastly different than how it did last year. From free-agent additions to multiple draft picks, Douglas left no stone unturned when it came to addressing the offensive trenches.

In fact, no position group saw as much change in the offseason — both starters and reserves — than the offensive line. That’s a testament not only to how poor it was in 2019, but to how intent the Jets were on fixing it.

The hope is that the five-man alignment up front will be vastly improved from where it was at a year ago. Of course, only time will tell if the Jets’ offseason adjustments truly work out.

But for now, let’s take a look at the state of the Jets’ offensive line heading into 2020.

NY Jets projected starters

  • Mekhi Becton, LT (R)
  • Alex Lewis, LG
  • Connor McGovern, C
  • Greg Van Roten, RG
  • Chuma Edoga, RT

There’s a good chance that the Jets will start five new players on the offensive line from the unit they deployed in 2019. Of those five new projected starters, perhaps only one or two of them will have ever played a game with the Jets before.

Safe it say, it will take some time to develop chemistry together.

The only true guarantee is free-agent addition Connor McGovern who will assume the starting center role. However, both Mekhi Becton and Alex Lewis seem like near-locks to start at their projected positions.

The real intrigue will come on the right side of the offensive line as both free-agent pickup Greg Van Roten and 2019 third-round pick Chuma Edoga will have to fight for their starting spots.

Van Roten appears to have the edge over the incumbent Brian Winters whose roster spot is still in jeopardy if the Jets need to clear some cap space. The Long Island native played well with the Carolina Panthers last season and figures to be an upgrade over Winters if he could secure the starting job.

Edoga, on the other hand, will likely be given a tougher task as he’ll compete with free-agent signing George Fant at right tackle. Fant has the experience and will be receiving a hefty sum of money in 2020, but the Jets are clearly still high on Edoga.

Expect Gang Green to give Edoga every opportunity to win the starting job, but don’t be surprised if Fant is the starting right tackle come Week 1 either.

This one feels like a toss-up.

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NY Jets projected reserves

  • George Fant, OT
  • Brian Winters, OG
  • Cameron Clark, OT/OG (R)
  • Jonotthan Harrison, C
  • Josh Andrews, C/OG

Joe Douglas not only did an excellent job of improving the starters on the offensive line, but giving the team the best depth they’ve had in years.

Fant and Winters, as previously mentioned, will be competing for starting spots but both narrowly miss out in these projections. Nonetheless, expect them to serve as very reliable backups in case of injury.

Fourth-round rookie Cameron Clark may be a year away from seeing a prominent role on offense — barring injury — but the Jets are high on his potential and see him as a future starter at one of the two guard spots.

That could come as soon as next year provided his development goes well.

Jonotthan Harrison will return and serve as the team’s primary backup center behind McGovern. He’s filled a part-time starter role in each of the last two seasons but the hope is that he isn’t forced to do the same again in 2020.

Finally, free-agent signing Josh Andrews will be competing for one of the final roster spots, and his versatility to play any spot on the interior offensive line gives him a leg up on the competition.

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Others fighting for a roster spot

  • Conor McDermott, OT
  • Ben Braden, OG
  • Jared Hilbers, OT (R)
  • Leo Koloamatangi, C
  • Brad Lundblade, C/OG
  • Jimmy Murray, C/OG

Of the six offensive linemen in this section, Conor McDermott and Ben Braden likely have the best shot at earning a roster spot.

McDermott played sparingly with the Jets down the stretch last season even starting two games. If the Jets view Cameron Clark as more of a guard, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the former Buffalo Bills linemen earn a roster spot.

Meanwhile, Braden will likely be competing with Josh Andrews for one of the final interior offensive line spots. He’s spent considerable time on the Jets’ practice squad over the past two seasons appearing in three regular-season games with the team.

Of the others, undrafted rookie Jared Hilbers has a chance of at least hearing a spot on the practice squad. The Jets gave the Washington product a whopping $62,000 in guarantees so expect him to stick around in some fashion.

The other three — Leo Koloamatangi, Brad Lundblade, and Jimmy Murray — will all likely be vying for practice squad spot barring injury. Koloamatangi spent time on the Jets’ active roster last season, but he’s the only one to never appear in an NFL game.

Next. NY Jets Post-NFL Draft State of the Roster: Tight ends

Ultimately, the Jets will hope that the offseason additions are enough to fix what was a downright awful offensive line group last season. At the very least, improvement shouldn’t be too much to come by.

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