NY Jets Optimistic Roster Breakdown: C Connor McGovern

NY Jets, Connor McGovern (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
NY Jets, Connor McGovern (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets signed center Connor McGovern in the offseason to bolster the offensive line.

The NY Jets underwent a near-complete offensive line overhaul in the offseason. And that overhaul started in free agency with the signing of center Connor McGovern.

While the biggest — literally and figuratively — offensive line addition of the offseason is undoubtedly the selection of Mekhi Becton in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, McGovern could provide the most substantial day one impact.

A fifth-round pick of the Denver Broncos in the 2016 NFL Draft, McGovern wouldn’t earn a full-time starting role until the 2018 season where he assumed the every-day right guard job.

That’s where he would spend most of the season before shifting over to center in Week 11 following an injury suffered by Matt Paradis. And after Paradis departed in free agency, McGovern would remain the Broncos’ center going into 2019.

The change in position would prove to the best thing for McGovern as he would go on to play the best football of his career in 2019. The former Missouri standout allowed just one sack and wasn’t flagged for a single accepted penalty all season.

His excellent play would earn him a very solid 72.0 Pro Football Focus grade which ranked him as the 10th-best center in the NFL. And he would be rewarded with a three-year, $27 million contract in the offseason as he signed with the Jets.

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Now going into 2020, McGovern will look to anchor a new-look Jets offensive line. How could he turn his 2019 success into an even better 2020 season?

How Connor McGovern can find success with the NY Jets in 2020

McGovern was an average/below-average starter at guard in 2018, but he found his most success playing center in 2019. Fortunately, that’s exactly the role he’ll be expected to fill with the Jets in 2020.

Evaluating his strengths and weaknesses as a player is a little tricky seeing as though the 2018 and 2019 versions of himself pretty much flip-flopped.

In 2018, McGovern was a major liability in pass-protection being given a woeful 38.7 pass-block grade by PFF. However, he followed that up with an incredible 2019 season where he was a top-five pass-protecting center in the NFL earning a stellar 82.5 PFF grade.

On the other hand, McGovern was below-average as a run-blocker in 2019 being tagged with a 64.1 run-block grade from PFF. But in 2018, he fared a lot better as a run-blocker earning an above-average 68.9 run-block grade.

So what exactly should we make of this?

Obviously, McGovern played the entirety of the 2019 season at center while he only started a handful of games at that position in 2018. Perhaps the change in position could provide reasoning for his lack of consistency at each phase of the game.

Or perhaps he simply improved upon his shortcomings from the year prior.

While his run-block grade did decrease slightly, his performance in that area didn’t diminish enough to warrant concern. Instead, his pass-blocking was truly the story as his performance in 2019 was night and day from a year prior.

McGovern went from one of the worst pass-blocking centers in the NFL to one of the best. And that should really be the takeaway here.

For McGovern to find success with the Jets in 2020, he must prove that his 2019 season wasn’t a fluke and that he truly is one of the better pass-blocking centers in the league.

Moreover, he must bounce back from a down season as a run-blocker a year ago and continue to work on that area of his game. If he could do both of those things, then there’s no reason why McGovern can’t maintain his status as a top-10 center in football.

The Jets’ offensive line is in desperate need of some semblance of consistency and an established starting presence.

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And if McGovern plays how he did last season, he should be able to provide them with just that.