The Jets will field first- and second-year players on the left side of the offensive line. Confidence in the duo is present, however.
The offensive line over in Florham Park has a tough task on its hands — protect the Jets‘ rookie quarterback. Zach Wilson will need all the help he can get in order to develop on the field and the play of the offensive line will carry significant weight in how well he performs.
As for the o-line unit, there’s a lack of noteworthy experience on the left side. The Jets are set to start second-year tackle and 2020 first-round pick Mekhi Becton as well as rookie guard and 2021 first-round pick Alijah Vera-Tucker. The two combined have just 14 career NFL games and 13 starts under their belts (all Becton, obviously).
It’s understandable if this is a concern for some, especially in regard to how Vera-Tucker performs in his first season. However, there doesn’t seem to be much stress from the middleman of the unit when it comes to that left side.
Jets center Connor McGovern spoke highly of the duo following Thursday’s training camp practice and especially praised the rookie right next to him.
“[Alijah] has been awesome. Really similar to Bec [Becton] — he’s really smart, x’s and o’s,” McGovern told the media. “I think that’s the thing that hurts a lot of rookies on the offensive line, the mentality side of the game. [Playing on the] offensive line is so detailed, and once you get to the NFL, you can’t rely on that athleticism as much as you did in the past.
“He’s been really really good mentally, and that matches his physical ability. He’s extremely quick, fast, twitchy, big body, long arms, and has a great hip roll. Not a lot of guys coming out of college have that explosive, loose hip roll, but he’s got it. He’s going to be a special player just like Bec. The left side’s young, but they’re smart. I definitely don’t feel like when I get to the line of scrimmage I have to explain everything to them. They’re locked in and ready to go.”
Becton and Vera-Tucker are two of the only offensive linemen who, at this point, are essentially slated to start. McGovern should start as well after doing so in all 16 games for the Jets last year.
The right guard and right tackle spots are uncertain though.
For the interior role, the Jets could field Greg Van Roten or Alex Lewis but also employ Dan Feeney on the roster. The organization acquired Feeney on a one-year deal this offseason.
The right tackle role will likely play host to one of the more intriguing position battles of training camp. George Fant primarily resided in that position last year but the Jets did sign veteran Morgan Moses to a one-year deal earlier this month.
Moses started all 16 regular-season games for Washington each of the last six years and recorded an impressive 80.6 Pro Football Focus grade in 2020.