In part one of breaking down the weaknesses and prospects available for the 2008 NY Jets, we’re going to focus on what was without question the biggest problem for the team last season, the offensive line.
How can one classify the Jets moves concerning the offensive line in 2007? Odd, that’s the best way to put it. After spending a very large amount of money and high draft picks on two blue chip prospects in 2006, they completely gave up on continuing the building process in 2007. Whether it was overconfidence or just plain stupidity is a mystery, but what is a certainty now is the fact that Anthony Clement, and probably even Brandon Moore should not be starting on this football team next year. We know that Adrien Clarke is now a goner with his release yesterday. The front office needs to start from scratch and build a unit around Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson, which it should have done last year.
The Kendall move backfired badly and turned out to be a disaster for the Jets. If one had to point to the most consistent problem on offense all season, it would hands down be the left guard position. In fact, the problems at LG all season can be directly correlated to the problems with the running game and injuries to the quarterback. If Jet fans remember correctly, it was Adrien Clarke’s shoddy play that got Kellen Clemens injured in the Jets’ second meeting with New England. For in the words of Jetsinsider correspondent Glenn Bernardi right after that game: “It was only a matter of time before (he) got someone killed.”
Brandon Moore is nothing more than a serviceable player who could possibly make an impact on a studded offense line where he could benefit from everyone else’s play. Bottom line is that he’s not a difference maker. Anthony Clement was possibly the worst starting right tackle in the NFL last year, and Adrien Clarke showed why the Eagles gave up on him so quickly. In every single start last season, he looked overweight and slow.
So what can Jet fans look forward to in terms of fixing three out of five positions on the offensive line? Hopefully, a ton of action in not only free agency, but also the draft. The Alan Faneca rumors have been rampant, as have been several other key FA’s, but we’re going to focus on several prospects who could come in and make an immediate impact for the Jets at guard and tackle. Keep in mind this is an excellent tackle class in the first two rounds, so it’s not a bad year to have a need at RT.
Jake Long, OT, Michigan: You know the name by now. Long’s been one of the top 3 prospects for the 2008 draft since the end of the 2007 draft. Long plays with a nasty demeanor and is versatile for both positions. At pick six, he would be a good pickup, and at that point the Jets would have an obscene amount of money invested in their bookends. It’s unlikely that Long will be there at 6 from the way things look right now though. He’s a consensus top 3 prospect from almost every angle, and with the value of prospects who can play left tackle at his level, it’s hard to see him slipping. Even if he got past the top 3, he’s such a logical pick for the Chiefs due to their glaring weakness at LT, and they pick before we do.
Ryan Clady, OT, Boise St: Clady is one of the most intriguing prospects in this draft. An outstanding pass blocker with a huge frame, he’s currently carrying a mid first round grade. Where Clady comes into play for the Jets is in the event of a trade-down scenario within round one, which isn’t unlikely if you really think about it. With Tannenbaum’s history of moving up and/or down within any given round thus far, it’s not too far-fetched to see him trading down for more picks in an effort to acquire more talented bodies, of which the Jets are severely lacking. Clady in this writer’s opinion would be an excellent pickup for the Jets in that given scenario, he’d be excellent value in the mid-first and is ready to start at an immediate position of need. Keep in mind though Jet fans, that Clady’s strength is in pass blocking, thus the interior line would still need to be solidified in order to let Brick and Clady maximize their strengths.
Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College: You simply can’t deny the linemen that BC has been cranking out for some time now. The Jets have been keeping a close eye on Gosder and it’s very likely that if the Jets stand pat with their picks in the early rounds, Cherilus could be their second round pick. He was a tad inconsistent throughout his senior year and also has a few character concerns, but the natural ability is there to be an absolute stud in the NFL.
Other OT prospects to keep an eye on and their possible draft position:
Jeff Otah, Pittsburgh - Late first to early second.
Chris Williams, Vanderbilt - Late first to early second.
Carl Nicks, Nebraska - Early to late second.
Oniel Cousins, UTEP - Mid second to mid third.
Brandon Albert, Virginia: Standing at a tall 6 foot 7, as of right now, Albert is the only guard in this draft class who could possibly get a first round grade. Some project him to be better suited for tackle, but one can’t deny Albert’s consistent and dominant play for Virginia the past several years. Jet fans shouldn’t be surprised at all if Tannenbaum makes a push for Albert in round 2 if he’s still on the board.
Roy Schuening, Oregon St: Now here’s a very intriguing prospect for the Jets and a player most certain to be on Tannenbaum’s radar come draft day. Schuening is a notoriously hard word worker and locker room leader, the epitome of a Mangini player. He’s not the most consistent guard, but the talent is most certainly there and he’s a naturally aggressive player with one heck of a mean streak and an excellent run blocker as well. If he’s on the board in round 3, this is a very probable pick for Gang Green if he’s on the board. I’ve also been a personal fan of Schuening’s for a long time, so I’d be ecstatic if he was Tannenbaum’s third round choice.
Mike McGlynn, Pittsburgh: The other bookend of one of the best pairs of tackles last season in college football, McGlynn is most likely going to play guard at the next level. His versatility would make him an excellent asset to a rebuilding team like the Jets and his aggressiveness is exactly what this line needs. Though his upside may be limited somewhat from an athletic standpoint, his intangibles are second to none in this guard class and he’d be an excellent pickup in the later-mid rounds, probably somewhere between the late fourth and early fifth.
Other OG prospects to keep an eye on and their possible draft position:
Eric Young, Tennessee - Late second to early third.
Chilo Rachal, USC - Early to late third.
Chad Rinehart, Northern Iowa - Late third to late fourth.
Kerry Brown, Appalachian St - Early fourth to early fifth.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this series coming soon!