Sunday, January 16, 2022

Jets fans debate after NFL draft analyst suggests polarization strategy

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What should the New York Jets do with their two first-round picks in 2022?

That’s the popular question fans are debating right now, and NFL draft analyst Matt Miller suggested a polarizing strategy for Gang Green on Jan. 14. He tweeted: “There’s an argument about cap hits for that, but I’m not sure the Jets shouldn’t just draft [OT] Karlskreuz u [C] Tyler Linderbaum on Round 1.”

After receiving a plethora of mostly negative responses, Miller followed: “I see Jets fans are not happy. Surprise. You can’t just craft a pass rusher or an elite WR and whoops, they’re available or a value [pick]. It is highly unlikely that there isn’t an EDGE or WR with a top 10 rating that makes it past the selection [three].”

This hot take comes after news that Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams suffered one cruciate ligament tear and expects Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux to finish in the top three. Miller doesn’t appear to be as high on Purdue edge rusher George Karlaftis as some analysts.

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I have no doubt that there are many Jets supporters who feel the offensive job is not done. I agree with you, it is not.

However, it can also be argued that spending two more first-rounders on the offensive line in 2022 would be overkill. Pro Football Focus ranked the Jets O-line 11th in the NFL this season – to the surprise of many. That’s just outside the top 10.

Much of this should benefit OL coach John Benton for his work with players like center Connor McGovern and offensive tackle George Fant. McGovern’s overall score of 75.8 was the Jets’ best blocking score by an offensive lineman in 2021 (at least 200 snaps), according to the PFF.

The worst results came from right-back, shared by Greg Van Roten and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. The Jets are expected to solidify that position in 2022, but do they need to upgrade other areas of this unit?

Miller seems to think so, but I’m not so sure.

I agree that if Morgan Moses leaves with a free hand, the Jets should bring another offensive tackle into the draft, but I’m not sure you need to do that in round one. Fant is under contract until 2023 as long as Douglas wants it – no guaranteed money owed in 2022.

Mekhi Becton is also expected to return. Whether or not he can stay sane is another story, but the Jets can’t embrace his status one way or another.

However, Cross is a first-round talent who excels as a pass protector, according to The Draft Network. He’s making his mark as the NFL’s left tackle, which would create an even bigger block as Fant also seems more comfortable on the blindside.

The more obvious move here is to bring Fant back and assign Becton a 24/7 personal trainer. They could then design a tackle for depth later, but Cross doesn’t fit with the Jets’ priorities.

The case could speak for the not-to-be-missed center Linderbaum at No. 10 – especially if McGovern is willing to move on to right guard. That might even have been the original long-term plan for Douglas, but with the way McGovern has improved one could also consider extending the 28-year-old to 2023 and beyond.

However, one first-round option Miller doesn’t mention could make more sense than Cross and Linderbaum, and that’s potential Ikem Ekwonu. The NC State product provides the versatility needed to start at right defense and serve as a potential right tackle should Becton or Fant sustain an injury.

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This tweet certainly got some attention from the fanbase. Beat reporter DJ Bien-Aime has been vocal in advocating that the Jets shouldn’t draft a center in round one. He answered: “I respect your opinion. I’m curious what your reasoning is[?]”

Others reacted less diplomatically. Takeflightnation wrote: “There is simply no need. Fantastic [and] Beckon is fine. And I don’t want a middle 10th overall. This team needs offensive playmakers alongside Elijah Moore and Michael Carter and pretty much a whole new defense.”

Then a fan with the handle “@forevershinin” commented: “Pure rubbish. Jets must take all defensive measures and stop this O-Line deal immediately. We can add the free hand only if jets are good if they have a spike [eight] or better go defense [playmakers] in defense”.

A fan named Added Bryan Fields: “[Four] out [five] First Round Picks [on] O line shines [like an] excessive resource consumption. With holes almost everywhere else, is this the best way to go about it? Likewise [Douglas’] Background is O-Line and the scheme is kind and fair to say he should be able to find a mid-round starter?

However, some agreed with Miller. A fan named Louie admitted: “I’m actually reservedly cool with them as long as they add a playful TE and WR in the free hand.”

Another name Mikey T loved the plan. “Great orienteers change teams. Onboard with these 100%. Would need to fit this into a broader plan where we address the D/pass rush in FA [and] Trades and grab a WR on top [round two].”

While there are many opinions on this, I feel like there is a clear strategy for Douglas and Robert Saleh. If no one stands out at #4, trade down.

Don’t force yourself into a box by calling up two offensive linemen you don’t need in 2022 – just because they’re the best players available – and don’t attack at a weak position when the right player isn’t there.

I repeat, assuming Douglas and Saleh don’t see anyone perfectly fitting in 4th place, the only step is to trade down.

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The case could speak for the not-to-be-missed center Linderbaum at No. 10 – especially if McGovern is willing to move on to right guard. That might even have been the original long-term plan for Douglas, but with the way McGovern has improved one could also consider extending the 28-year-old to 2023 and beyond.



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