When NY Jets general manager Joe Douglas took over in June of 2019, he inherited a roster that was among the worst in the NFL. It was a roster stripped of talent and loaded with bad contracts.
Douglas was forced to tear everything down and rebuild from scratch, and while he's had his share of missteps along the way, the work he's done to reshape the team's offensive line should not be overlooked.
The Jets don't have a hole in their projected starting lineup. All five starters are at worst average players with others having the potential to be among the best at their position.
Nothing is guaranteed, but this Jets offensive line has the potential to be a top-10 unit in 2022. And on paper, it's probably already the best in the division.
This NY Jets offensive line can be special
The Jets actually managed to finish ranked 11th in the entire NFL in Pro Football Focus' end-of-the-year offensive line rankings. That was without Mekhi Becton for essentially the entire season and with a noticeable hole at right guard, not to mention players like Dan Feeney and Conor McDermott filling in as spot starters.
While 11th might be a bit high for most, there's no doubt that the Jets' offensive line was significantly improved this past season. The likes of George Fant and Connor McGovern improved in the team's new zone-blocking scheme with Alijah Vera-Tucker showing flashes of greatness as a rookie.
The arrow was already pointing up. That was before the Jets went out and signed Pro Bowl guard Laken Tomlinson to a three-year, $41.2 million contract this offseason. All of a sudden, the Jets' biggest weakness on their offensive line is arguably their greatest strength.
Let's break it down position by position.
At left tackle, George Fant was one of the best pass-blocking tackles in the NFL last season. He allowed just 18 pressures in 15 games while playing nearly 600 pass-blocking snaps. Fant was phenomenal this past year, and the hope is that he carries over that momentum into 2022.
At left guard, you have Vera-Tucker who put together a strong rookie season. There's no reason he shouldn't continue to ascend in Year 2, especially at a position like guard where young players don't tend to reach their ceilings until Year 3 or 4.
Connor McGovern is likely returning as the team's starting center and, despite being the "weak link" of the offensive line, the veteran lineman was actually pretty solid this past season. His 75.8 Pro Football Focus grade ranked ninth among all centers in football.
Of course, you have Laken Tomlinson at right guard. The 30-year-old hasn't played right guard in his NFL career, but the Jets are confident that he can adapt well, especially given his familiarity with the team's offensive scheme. His ceiling and floor might be the highest in the unit.
Finally, you have Mekhi Becton. Becton is expected to compete with Fant for the starting left tackle job, but the assumption right now is that the latter has the edge. Nonetheless, if Becton can stay healthy, his potential is obviously through the roof.
It's easy to forget, but Becton was seen as one of the fastest-rising stars in the NFL not too long ago. In a June 2021 poll of NFL personnel, Becton was ranked as the sixth-best offensive tackle in the entire NFL.
The Jets want to see a healthy and motivated Becton show up to camp this summer. Everyone in the organization knows his potential — now, it's all about reaching it.
Obviously, things are bound to go wrong. It isn't smart to plan for best-case scenarios as injuries and other factors always come into play. That said, it seems pretty clear that this Jets offensive line can legitimately be one of the best in the league if all goes right.
And if/when things go south, there's enough talent here to suggest that the Jets should have their best offensive line in over a decade, likely since 2010.
The New England Patriots have questions at both guard spots and a potential hole at right tackle if Trent Brown doesn't return. The Buffalo Bills also have uncertainties at left and right guard. And the less said about the Miami Dolphins' offensive line the better.
The Jets already have the best offensive line in the AFC East on paper. And it has the potential to be so much more in 2022.