3. The NY Jets need to add more offensive linemen to protect Zach Wilson
The Jets have prioritized rebuilding a much neglected offensive line in the past few years. As a result, 2020 and 2021 saw the team spend first-round picks on offensive linemen Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker, proof of Joe Douglas’s commitment to fortifying the trenches.
While the offensive line still allowed the fourth-most sacks in the league the past season, the unit showed considerable improvement across the board.
Despite the progress, the Jets’ offensive line still has some question marks. Becton missed all but one game this past season after getting rolled up on in the season opener, raising some doubt about whether he can withstand the rigors of an entire NFL season at his size.
George Fant did an exceptional job filling in at left tackle, but his contract status (scheduled to hit free agency after next season) may push Douglas to look to add young talent to the position group.
The Jets need a starting-caliber right guard in this draft. The team did well with the midseason trade acquisition of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to help stabilize the unit upon his insertion into the starting lineup in Week 11.
Still, his age and complicated doctoral obligations cloud his status as a sure bet for the Jets next season. After him, the Jets are left with Dan Feeney and Greg Van Roten, who should not see the field in most best-case scenarios.
Fortunately, this draft class is loaded across the offensive line with premium talent at tackle (Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu, Charles Cross) and the interior line positions (Tyler Linderbaum, Kenyon Green, Zion Johnson).
In addition, this class also has considerable depth with several potential late-round gems who would thrive in the Jets’ zone-based blocking scheme.
The Jets are counting on Wilson to take a big jump in his second year as a starter. But, for that to happen, the team needs to continue to add talented players to the trenches to help bring the sacks allowed total down and open up more holes in the run game.