With yesterday’s news that the Jets have traded for Jeff Otah, it would seem that the Jets offensive line isn’t as set in stone as we once thought just a few days ago. Here’s a quick summation of who could be in the running at the top spots.
Position: Right Tackle
Top Contenders: Wayne Hunter and Jeff Otah
Darkhorses: Austin Howard, Dennis Landolt
Analysis: All offseason we’ve wondered what the Jets were planning to do with Wayne Hunter and now we know. Hunter was a solid backup, but struggled in full-time work for the Jets. Ducasse was who the Jets wanted to contend for the Right Tackle spot, but that’s not worked out well either. The Jets made a half-hearted attempt in signing Stephon Heyer, but maybe that wasn’t enough. Otah was likely about to be cut by the Panthers according to accounts from the NY Post, but it’s hard to blame the Jets for taking a seventh round flier on a player who came into the league as heralded as Otah was back in 2008 but who has struggled so much to stay healthy. Hunter still will hold the top spot, but if the Jets like what they see from Otah’s conditioning tests and initial practices in camp, look to see if he doesn’t challenge for the job. Also, remember that the Dolphins took Jake Long with the first pick that year, but the Otah was projected late first so would have been on Sparano’s radar in the event they went with Chris Long or Matt Ryan at the top.
Position: Left Guard
Top Contenders: Matt Slauson and Vlad Ducasse
Analysis: I don’t expect any of the backup offensive linemen to make a play at the LG spot other than Vlad Ducasse. The Jets have said that they want to see much more production from Ducasse and they can’t have been happy to learn about Slauson keeping injury information from the team last season, even if there was a lockout. While Slauson had some positive moments in 2011 and definitely is learning on the job, his production was not what they needed it to be that the Jets might now consider their options at this spot if the much more athletically gifted Ducasse looks to be destined to becoming an interior lineman.