The secret is out — the NY Jets love their offensive linemen. They've pulled the trigger early on offensive linemen in drafts prior, and they could very well do so again in 2022.
To the happiness of Jets fans everywhere, Jets general manager Joe Douglas took offensive linemen in the first round of the last two drafts: Alijah Vera-Tucker at 14th overall in 2021 and Mekhi Becton at 11th overall in 2020.
Dipping in the first round for yet another offensive lineman may not be the smartest idea this time around, though.
It goes without saying that the offensive line is one of the most important position groups in football, and improving the line makes quarterback Zach Wilson's job that much easier in 2022.
In 2021, the Jets' O-line ranked in the top-15 of the league according to Pro Football Focus, as each of the team's five starting offensive linemen earned at least average overall PFF grades.
This offseason saw New York make smart moves to upgrade an already well-oiled unit with the big addition coming in the form of free-agent left guard Laken Tomlinson.
NY Jets may pluck another first-round offensive linemen in 2022 NFL Draft
Elsewhere on the offensive line, the Mekhi Becton/George Fant battle for left tackle will be a fun one to watch, and the team has retained starters Alijah Vera-Tucker and Connor McGovern along with depth pieces in Greg Van Roten, Conor McDermott, and Dan Feeney.
All in all, not a group that badly needs first-round reinforcements.
Yet history says New York could complete the three-peat and sure up that position in the first round for the third straight year, as this year's draft carries plenty of talent in the trenches.
The three top offensive line prospects in 2022 have all been mocked to the Jets at some point this offseason. Alabama's Evan Neal, North Carolina State's Ikem Ekwonu, and Mississippi State's Charles Cross each possess their own impressive skill sets, but the Jets arguably have more pressing needs at edge rusher and wide receiver.
If the choice came down to, say, Ikem Ekwonu and Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux, many fans would be incensed if New York didn't take Thibodeaux, arguably the best defensive end prospect in this draft.
Like most teams, the Jets will enter the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft with ample room for flexibility, and it'll be up to Joe Douglas and the coaches to walk the fine line between player value and team needs.
Having extra starting-caliber offensive linemen on the roster is a luxury for any NFL team, and it's one the Jets may not be able to afford in 2022.