Analyzing the New York Jets’ 2022 NFL draft approach for the interior offensive line
The interior of the New York Jets offensive line is in a good place at the moment.
General manager Joe Douglas stated in his pre-draft press conference on Thursday that he feels the Jets have “one of if not the best guard combinations in the league” with Laken Tomlinson and Alijah Vera-Tucker.
Center Connor McGovern will be back for his third year with the team after a solid 2021 season.
The depth on the inside of 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 backup guard.
At some point in the draft, the Jets could look for a developmental interior offensive lineman who can begin his career in a reserve role.
Let’s discuss the guards and centers of this draft class and where the Jets could target them.
The 2022 NFL draft’s interior offensive line class has been highlighted for quite 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 valued as late first-round picks. At least one and probably two of the three will be selected in round one.
If one does fall to the Jets’ 35th or 38th pick in the second round, they should not be ruled out as potential choices. Ultimately though, the Jets will probably not 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 a concern with the Jets’ depth at tackle behind George Fant and Mekhi Becton.
If Strange is available when the Jets make their early third-round selection (69th overall) it will be interesting to see if they pick him. Strange has the potential to become a long-term starting center if he gets some time to acclimate himself 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 these three players fall to the Jets’ early fourth-round selections (111th and 117th), they could be strongly considered by Douglas.
Parham offers developmental potential at center in future years. Salyer has experience from 2020-21 at left tackle. Ingram played every snap from 2019-21 at left guard. He was successful as a pass blocker in 2021, allowing only 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)
- Marquis Hayes (Oklahoma)
- Cam Jurgens (Nebraska)
- Luke Goedeke (Central Michigan)
- Zach Tom (Wake Forest)
Jurgens played every snap at center for Nebraska over the past three years. Fortner is someone who offers versatility between guard and center.
Goedeke can help address the Jets’ need for tackle depth as he brings guard/tackle versatility. He logged over 1,700 snaps at right tackle in 2019 and 2021.
Tom offers center experience (1,030 snaps in 2019) and 1,729 snaps at tackle over the last two years. He is not projected to be a tackle due to a lack of size (6-foot-4, 304 lbs).
Both Smith and Hayes gained nearly all of their experience in the last 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.
With the Jets’ two fifth-round selections (146th and 163rd), a few possible interior 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 predominantly at right tackle. Volson did record 262 total snaps at right guard over the last two seasons. Neither one necessarily has the desired athleticism Volson (4.75 RAS) and Stueber (5.09 RAS). Both are projected to 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 lbs, 35 1/8″ arms). It will be interesting to see if the league looks at him as a tackle or guard.
Mays, West, and Lindstrom all present either 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 at guard and last season he played tackle. His minimal center experience came in 2019 (46 snaps) but he could be utilized there in the NFL.
West is a young prospect at 20 years old. Versatility is a huge plus to 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 great numbers in the 10-yard split (1.74), 3-cone (7.5), and broad jump. All 2,438 of his snaps over the past three years were played at center.
Final outlook for the Jets
With five veterans currently on the interior of the offensive line in Vera-Tucker, Tomlinson, McGovern, Feeney, and Van Roten, drafting a guard or center is not a must.
It would be a luxury to select an interior offensive lineman at some point in rounds four or five. Drafting someone to develop could pay off down the road. Adding a player with multi-position versatility – either a tackle/guard or guard/center – would be especially useful for the Jets’ depth chart.