Should the NY Jets seek help on the inside offensive line in the NFL Draft?

Analysis of the New York Jets’ 2022 NFL Draft approach for the interior offensive line

The interior of the New York Jets offensive line is in good stead right now.

General manager Joe Douglas said at his pre-draft press conference Thursday that he felt the Jets had “one of the best guard combinations in the league, if not the best” with Laken Tomlinson and Alijah Vera -Tucker.

Center Connor McGovern will be back for his third year with the team after a strong 2021 season.

Depth inside the offensive line was addressed early in free agency with the re-signing of Dan Feeney. Greg Van Roten remains with the team as a veteran reserve guard.

At some point in the draft, the Jets could be looking for a developing inside offensive lineman who could start his career in a reserve role.

Let’s discuss guards and centers in this draft class and where the Jets could target them.

Leading leads

The interior offensive line class of the 2022 NFL Draft has been highlighted for some time by three players: Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa), Zion Johnson (Boston College) and Kenyon Green (Texas A&M).

None of the three seem likely to end up with the Jets. They are each rated as late first-round picks. At least one and probably two of the three will be selected in the first round.

If one drops to the Jets’ 35th or 38th pick in the second round, they shouldn’t be ruled out as a potential pick. Ultimately though, the Jets probably won’t use a high second-round pick on a player who would be a backup to start the season.

Second- and third-round prospects

The second tier of interior offensive linemen in this draft starts with Cole Strange (Chattanooga), Sean Ryan (UCLA) and Darian Kinnard (Kentucky).

The guard/tackle flexibility offered by Rhyan and Kinnard makes them fascinating options for the Jets. There is currently an issue with the Jets’ tackle depth behind George Fant and Mekhi Becton.

If Strange is available when the Jets make their third-round selection (69th overall), it will be interesting to see if they choose him. Strange has the potential to become a long-term starting center if he has time to acclimate to the position, which the Jets can give him with McGovern under contract for one more year.

After Strange, Rhyan and Kinnard, the next group of potential mid-to-late third-round picks consists of Dylan Parham (Memphis), Jamaree Salyer (Georgia) and Ed Ingram (LSU).

If any of those three players fall into the Jets’ first fourth-round selections (111th and 117th), they could be highly considered by Douglas.

Parham offers potential for development at the center in the years to come. Salyer has experience from 2020-21 at left tackle. Ingram played every snap of 2019 at 21 at left guard. He was successful as a pass blocker in 2021, allowing just one QB hit.

Fourth-round prospects

To start day three of the draft, some of the potential guard and center prospects for the Jets at picks 111 and 117 include:

  • Luke Fortner (Kentucky)
  • Lecitus Smith (Virginia Tech)
  • Marquess Hayes (Oklahoma)
  • Cam Jürgens (Nebraska)
  • Luke Goedeke (middle Michigan)
  • Zach Tom (Wake Forest)

Jurgens has played every snap at center Nebraska for the past three years. Fortner is someone who offers versatility between guard and centre.

Goedeke can help fill the Jets’ need for tackle depth as he brings guard/tackle versatility. He recorded over 1,700 right tackle snaps in 2019 and 2021.

Tom offers center experience (1,030 snaps in 2019) and 1,729 tackle snaps over the past two years. He shouldn’t be a tackle due to a lack of height (6-foot-4, 304 pounds).

Smith and Hayes have gained most of their experience over the past three seasons at left guard. Hayes played 2,399 of his 2,401 snaps at left guard and Smith played 1,926 of his 1,988 snaps at left guard.

Fifth-round prospects

With the Jets’ two fifth-round selections (146th and 163rd), a few possible inside offensive linemen they could add are Thayer Munford (Ohio State), Cordell Volson (North Dakota State), Dohnovan West (Arizona State), Andrew Stueber (Michigan), Alec Lindstrom (Boston College) and Cade Mays (Tennessee).

Stueber and Volson played mostly right tackle. Volson has recorded 262 total snaps at right guard over the past two seasons. Neither necessarily have the desired athleticism Volson (4.75 RAS) and Stueber (5.09 RAS). Both should be guards in the NFL.

Munford played every snap of the 2019 and 2020 seasons at left tackle before being moved to left guard last year. He provides a good frame (6-foot-5, 328 pounds, 35 1/8″ arms). It will be interesting to see if the league sees him as a tackle or a keeper.

Mays, West and Lindstrom all present center experience or potential to play the position at the next level.

Mays played on the right side for most of his college career. In 2019-20 he was a goalkeeper and last season he played tackle. His minimal experience at center came in 2019 (46 snaps) but he could be used there in the NFL.

West is a 20-year-old prospect. Versatility is a huge plus in his game. He started at right guard in 2019, left guard in 2020, and center last year (760 snaps).

Lindstrom has a very good RAS of 8.35. Most notably, he posted big numbers in the 10-yard split (1.74), 3-cone (7.5), and long jump. All 2,438 of his snaps over the past three years have been played at center.

Final outlook for the Jets

With five veterans currently inside the offensive line in Vera-Tucker, Tomlinson, McGovern, Feeney and Van Roten, drafting a guard or center isn’t essential.

It would be a luxury to select an inside offensive lineman at some point in the fourth or fifth round. Writing someone to develop could pay off down the road. Adding a player with multi-position versatility — either a tackle/guard or a guard/center — would be especially helpful for the Jets’ depth chart.

Betty K. Park