Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comThe roster is never set for the season in the beginning of April, as the five starting rookies from last season can attest. With twelve picks in what has been stated is one of the deepest draft classes in recent memory the Jets still have areas of need, which we fully expect them to fill between now and next Sunday. Here’s our quick look at the Jets positions of need and some players that might end up with the Jets. Next up, offensive line.
Current Status: D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold are the best of the bunch, but the rest of the line is not what it was just three or four years ago. The Jets might have some hold-the-fort veterans, the question is how long they can go on doing so. Free agent pickup RT Breno Giacomini might be a downgrade from Austin Howard. Willie Colon will return on another one-year deal, but the team might be eyeing longer term answers. Brian Winters was a rookie in 2013 and was thrown to the wolves after the benching of Vlad Ducasse; it was a rough season for Winters, but he did manage better play during December. Last year John Idzik drafted Oday Aboushi and Will Campbell and scooped up Ben Ijalana off waivers and kept them on the active roster but inactive for all the games … can these players make the necessary leap to justify hiding them on the 2013 roster?
Day One Options: OT Morgan Moses (Virginia), OG Zach Martin (Notre Dame), OG Xavier Su’a-Filo (UCLA)
Morgan Moses seems like a late riser, but might be a middle first round pick. While he can have trouble with pad level at times and with his burst, he’s an athletic player who looks ideally suited to playing right tackle. Martin might be the first tackle off the board and he is ready to play guard from day one, with potential to move into a tackle’s role in time. While Martin is a powerful and technically proficient player, he lacks the ideal size and length to play tackle. Su’a-Filo has the ability to get out and block at the second level and also is a reliable pass-protector.
Day Two Options: OT Cyrus Kouandijo (Alabama), OG Joel Bitonio (Nevada), OG Gabe Jackson (Mississippi State)
Kouandijo was a potential first round pick, but recent concern around his knee will likely drop him into the second round. ESPN’s Todd McShay says Kouandijo would have been better served returning to school, but that if teams can be patient with him he might become one of the better starting tackles in the league in three years. Joel Bitonio might be long gone by the time the Jets pick in the second round, but if for some reason he was still there, he’d be a steal. Bitonio has the potential to be a starting guard in the NFL for the next 7-10 years.
At 6’3″and 333 pounds, Gabe Jackson is much more than the stereotypical road-grader. Jackson has the agility to use his frame to move blockers out of the way to create lanes for runners. His leverage and strong hands allow him to grip and drive defensive linemen out of the play.
Day Three Options: OT Jack Mewhort (Ohio State), OT Michael Schofield (Michigan), OL Blake Treadwell (Michigan State), C Gabe Ikard (Oklahoma)
Mewhort might not have the athleticism of players taken ahead of him, but he is massive (6’6″ 309 lbs) and is a tough competitor who played all over the line during his time at Ohio State. While Mehort played predominantly at left tackle, expect him to project to the right side in the NFL. Schofield has great reach (6’7″) but might struggle with the transition to the NFL at tackle due to questions about whether his agility could hold up against NFL edge rushers. While he does have a good kick slide out of the snap and he does a good job of maintaining his leverage through his pad level and has a wide base to wall off running lanes, he might struggler against speed rushers due to limited range and tight hips. Blake Treadwell wasn’t invited to the Combine, but he has strong hands and can mirror pass rushers well. As for Ikard? The Jets need a proper backup center who might be able to play elsewhere if required.