NY Jets: Cameron Clark could be a starter by the 2021 season
By Justin Fried
NY Jets’ rookie offensive lineman Cameron Clark could start as soon as 2021.
The NY Jets made a concerted effort to completely overhaul their offensive line in the offseason. And for the first time in years, they seem to have a plan not only for this upcoming season, but for the future as well.
But while the key members of that plan such as first-round pick Mekhi Becton and free-agent acquisition Connor McGovern have received most of the attention, fourth-round rookie Cameron Clark has been overlooked to this point.
That’s probably because he isn’t slated to be a starter in 2020 and few are likely thinking of him in that role by the following season. But if all goes according to plan, it isn’t far-fetched to imagine him in the starting lineup by 2021.
The Jets seem to have a long-term plan at both offensive tackle positions. Becton is undoubtedly considered the future of the left side of the offensive line while the team still hopes that 2019 third-rounder Chuma Edoga is the same for the right side.
Edoga struggled mightily in his rookie season but the Jets knew that he was going to be a project coming out of USC. A highly-athletic, but technically-raw prospect, Edoga will look to follow in the footsteps of players like Kolton Miller and take that all-important second-year leap.
Plans could change, but that seems to be what the Jets have in mind at both tackle positions. The interior of the offensive line is a little more difficult to predict, however.
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What does the future hold for the NY Jets’ interior offensive line?
McGovern should hold down the center position for at least the duration of his contract, but neither left or right guard seems to have a long-term starter in line.
Free-agent signing Greg Van Roten will compete with the incumbent Brian Winters for the right guard job, but neither is expected to remain in that role for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, left guard Alex Lewis is more of a stop-gap than a true solution.
That’s where a player like Cameron Clark could come into play.
Clark was drafted as a tackle which is where he played in college. But the Charlotte product was seen as more of an interior prospect by many analysts due to his limited length and subpar agility.
That’s perfectly fine though for a Jets team that could really use his power and run-blocking ability on an interior that really struggled in that regard last season.
Clark has a future as a starter with the Jets, only it likely won’t be at offensive tackle. Sure, if Edoga fails the team could always try him at right tackle as a long-term replacement.
But as of right now, it’s likely they see Clark as a future starter at one of the two guard spots.
Clark boasts a similar skillset to Becton — albeit not quite as athletic or massive. The two are both mean road-graders who specialize in run-blocking over pass-protection at the moment.
A future left side of the offensive line featuring Becton and Clark could give the Jets an actual strength of the line to run behind. And after a few years of lackluster running games, that would go a long way towards balancing the offense.
Clark might not get his opportunity this year, but if his development goes according to plan, he very well could be a starting offensive guard for the Jets as soon as 2021.