The NY Jets will be hoping to see Alex Lewis solidify the left guard position in 2020.
The NY Jets made a concerted effort to completely remake their offensive line in the offseason bringing in a ton of new faces to compete for starting spots. But one returning player who’s been a bit overlooked has been guard Alex Lewis.
In fact, there’s a chance that Lewis is the only member of the starting five who was even on the team last season. That’s quite the bode of confidence from management.
The Jets acquired Lewis in early August of last year in a trade that sent a conditional seventh-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens. That trade turned out to be a steal as Lewis would go on to start 12 games with the team in 2019 playing admirably in the process.
Once Kelechi Osemele went down with an injury, Lewis stepped in at left guard and while he was far from a star, he at least held down the fort. His play was enough to earn him a rewarding three-year, $18.6 million extension in the offseason — proof of the team’s trust in him.
Now going into 2020, Lewis is penciled in as the Week 1 starter at left guard.
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In perhaps the biggest opportunity of his career, how could Lewis make the most of it and make 2020 a success?
How Alex Lewis can find success with the NY Jets in 2020
Lewis may be the Week 1 starter at left guard, but few likely see him as the long-term answer at the position. After all, the former fourth-round pick is already 28-years-old and has never been a full-time starter in his career.
And it’s not as if his play last season was exactly above-average either.
But Lewis will have a golden opportunity to solidify his place on the Jets’ offensive line if he can impress team officials in 2020. So what exactly does he have to do? Let’s start with what Lewis does well.
The former Ravens lineman is actually quite proficient as a pass-blocker earning a very respectable 68.5 grade from Pro Football Focus last season. While he ranked 60th out of 83 guards overall, he jumped up to 41st in terms of pass-blocking.
Lewis has the fundamentals of the game down. He’s technically-refined in pass-protection showing savvy hand placement and good overall balance that makes him far from a liability in the passing game.
However, his run-blocking leaves a lot to be desired.
Lewis’ physical limitations have held him back to this point as he doesn’t have the above-average strength or athleticism to be a quality run-blocker. He’s either getting driven 2-3 yards into the backfield or failing to gain leverage due to his slow feet.
There really isn’t much Lewis could do about this either. At this point in his career, it’s just who he is. All he can hope is that his technical skills make up for his lack of elite physical traits.
Realistically speaking, Lewis will likely never be more than a fringe starter/quality backup. But if he could show enough promise in 2020, the Jets might just consider keeping him in the starting lineup for another year.
Lewis will find success in 2020 if he earns and keeps his starting job throughout the duration of the season and convinces the Jets to give it another go next season.
Given that his cap hit jumps up to over $7 million next season and the fact that the Jets have an out in his contract worth under $2 million in dead cap, Lewis will need to work hard to prove to the organization that he’s worth keeping around.
And if he could do that, the 2020 season will have been the most successful year of Lewis’ career.