2020 New York Jets Preview: Offensive Tackles

2020 New York Jets
Spread the love

As the 2020 season approaches, it will mark a decade since the New York Jets had a pair of reliable tackles upfront. In 2010, right tackle Damien Woody was in his final season with the Jets while left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson was at the top of his game. Just how much did their play impact the team? Well, simply put, the Jets had one of the best offensive lines in the league in both the run and pass game on their way to the conference championship.

While the Jets may not get that level of play from the position this season, for the first time in years, it seems like there is potential going forward. No more band-aids at the tackle position, no more late-round investments thrown into the lineup right away. General manager Joe Douglas made numerous moves to improve the position and enter camp with multiple starting options. So who exactly are the Jets offensive tackles in 2020 and beyond?

2020 New York Jets Preview: Offensive Tackles

The Competition: Mekhi Becton (OT), George Fant (OT), and Chuma Edoga (RT)

The Good

Unlike his predecessor, Joe Douglas invested high draft capital into the offensive line. Selecting Louisville’s Mekhi Becton with the 11th overall pick in this year’s draft, the Jets acquired arguably the draft’s most promising tackle. A massive player at 6’7” and 364 pounds, Becton is a mauler who can play either tackle spot for the Jets. With freak athleticism for his size, the Jets would love for Becton to prove he can start out of the gate and become that long-term Ferguson-like left tackle right away. Unfortunately, nothing is guaranteed in the NFL, as he will need to work his way into the lineup.

This being in large part because of veteran swing-tackle George Fant. The 28-year old enters his fifth season, and first with the Jets. Fant signed a three-year deal worth $30-million this off-season, an addition that came with questions. Fant has only played in 46 games with just 24 starts, making many wonder why he got such a large deal. Douglas’ long-term plan this past free agency was built around flexibility, as Fant’s deal has a potential out after 2020, like fellow lineman Alex Lewis and Greg Van Roten. Ultimately, Fant has a one-year deal with the chance to start at either tackle position.

While Fant competes with Becton at left tackle, the loser will compete against the second-year pro Chuma Edoga on the right side. A third-round pick in the 2019 draft, Edoga was regarded as a developmental prospect. However, injuries pushed him into the starting lineup quickly, a move that allowed him to get significant playtime quickly. He flashed the ability to survive on the outside despite a leaner frame in only half a season. A knee injury ended his season after eight games, as the Jets will hope he returns healthy and ready to improve.

The Bad

As mentioned in the interior offensive lineman preview, chemistry is going to be crucial for the Jets. With so many new additions to the line, the Jets must get them to adjust to the playbook and each other during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not to mention figure out which five will be starting.

For the tackles, there is a major concern over consistency. Becton has ridiculous athleticism and power, although there are a few technical issues to cover. Fant battled plenty of ups and downs in addition to injuries during his time with the Seattle Seahawks. Meanwhile, Edoga struggled through eight starts last season, grading out as the third-worst tackle in the league per PFF. He had his good moments with his quick feet, although it was mightly outweighed by poor pass protection. If two of the three continue with their career struggles, quarterback Sam Darnold will continue to be forced to overcome poor blocking yet again.

The Backups: Cameron Clark

With three potential starters, that leaves rookie Cameron Clark as the only lock for a backup job. One of the Jets’ three fourth-round picks, the former Charlotte left tackle very well could transition inside to guard, although remains listed as a tackle. At 6’4” and 308 pounds, Clark plays with raw power and great “pop” off the line. With the Jets struggles in the run game last season, Clark could see early reps as he excels in run blocking. There are technique and footwork issues in his pass protection that will need work, but the Jets hope he can develop into a starter as soon as 2021 somewhere along the line.

The Bubble: Conor McDermott and Jared Hilbers

With all the injuries along the Jets offensive line last season, the team took advantage of the waiver wire to fill their line. One of the benefactors of that move was former New England Patriots’ sixth-round pick, Conor McDermott. After bouncing from New England to the Buffalo Bills, the Jets acquired McDermott last October, and by season’s end saw him in the starting lineup. Playing both guard and tackle, McDermott brings versatility and experience in the Jets system. Like McDermott, rookie Jared Hilbers is another versatile player competing for a roster spot. The 6’6” and 310 pounds former Washington tackle played both sides of the line in college. Hilbers is at his best in run blocking, with quick feet and promise as a swing tackle. He also could see reps at guard too, as he does lack the desired length for a tackle in the NFL.

Last Word on the 2020 New York Jets Preview: Offensive Tackles

The New York Jets offensive line is not going to be as dominant as it was a decade ago. Nevertheless, for the first time in years, the Jets have a group with plenty of upside in the long-term. The trio of Becton, Fant, and Edoga will fight it out in 2020 for two starting jobs. From there, Becton hopes to be the left tackles of the future with Edoga or Clark opposite of him. One thing for sure is that the Jets have depth at the position – something they have not for years.

Stay tuned for the next article in the 2020 New York Jets Preview series with edge Rushers!

2020 New York Jets Preview Series: Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, Tight Ends, Interior Offensive Line

Embed from Getty Images