1. Offensive linemen the NY Jets could target at No. 23
The Jets have their left tackle of the future in last year’s first-round pick Mekhi Becton, and the team is installing a new zone-blocking scheme up front with former San Francisco 49ers offensive line coach John Benton.
Many of the returning offensive linemen, like George Fant based on his skill set, could benefit from the change in scheme and be better players than they were a year ago.
However, the Jets offensive line is missing another standout player, a foundation piece on the same line as Mekhi Becton. Someone who can work in tandem with him for many years to come.
The same type of elite pairing that D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold were for so many years. Can the Jets get that type of player at 23?
With that in mind, here are the top offensive linemen that are projected by many publications and outlets to be probable selections in Round 1.
- Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
- Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern
- Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
- Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG, USC
- Teven Jenkins, OT/OG, Oklahoma State
- Landon Dickerson, C/OG, Alabama
Teams that could realistically draft offensive linemen in the first 22 picks before the Jets are on the clock at 23, based on their individual needs, are as followed.
Bengals (No. 5), Panthers (No. 8), Cowboys (No. 10), Giants (No. 11), Eagles (No. 12), Chargers (No. 13), Vikings (No. 14), Raiders (No. 17), Dolphins (No. 18), Washington (No. 19), Bears (No. 20), Colts (No. 21), Titans (No. 22).
It’s safe to assume that Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater will be the top two offensive linemen taken off the board, most likely in the top-10. Then it’s a matter of personal preference for teams amongst the remaining group.
The Chargers at 13 and the Vikings at 14 seem like logical destinations for the best-rated players up front left on the board. Both Los Angeles and Minnesota are in desperate need of help on their offensive line, and this could be the area where Vera-Tucker and Darrisaw go off the board.
Two other teams that have pressing needs at offensive tackle are Washington at 19 and the Colts at 21. Indianapolis, in particular, will be looking to replace starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo, who retired this offseason.
With so many teams in the teens and beyond potentially looking to address their offensive lines, the likelihood for the Jets at 23 is that their best bet for a premium lineman to fall to them will be Landon Dickerson. Would the Jets repeat 2006 and go center again as they did with Nick Mangold 15 years ago?
The Jets have Connor McGovern locked in as their starting center, but he does have history playing at guard if the Jets decide to bring on a new pivot man for their offense.
Dickerson checks off many the boxes as a Rimington Award winner as the nation’s best center, but he has some red flags based on his history of season-ending injuries. Most recently, an ACL tear suffered in December.
The other issue with a player like Dickerson is whether he fits in the Jets’ new scheme. At 6-foot-6 333 pounds, on paper, Dickerson is not your prototypical interior player in a zone-blocking system.
Dickerson is not known for his agility or ability to operate well on the move, in space, or at the second level of a defense. So, despite the high draft pedigree, he may very well be a square peg in a round hole for the Jets.
Two other interior players who could likely be drafted in Round 1 based on supply and demand are Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Quinn Meinerz and Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey. Either player could be targets of the Jets as well, but perhaps not at 23.
The bottom line is if the Jets are looking to land Alijah Vera-Tucker, Christian Darrisaw, or a Teven Jenkins, to guarantee it, they will most likely have to make a move up the board to get them.
Next: Cornerback options at 23