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Jets general manager Joe Douglas stated publicly that the team was going to make the offensive line a priority in free agency this offseason. And he wasn't kidding. So far, the Jets have agreed to terms with four new offensive linemen and re-signed last year's left guard, Alex Lewis.
Looking at the players the Jets have brought in, some very clear patterns have emerged, from which we can infer several things about the plans for Adam Gase's offense in 2020.
It's not completely clear where each of these pieces will fit into the offensive line next season, in part because the team probably hasn't finished in terms of its overhaul process. While it perhaps now seems unlikely they'll make a splashy move for a big name like Trent Williams, they could still opt to re-sign Kelvin Beachum and are still expected to draft at least one offensive lineman early on in next month's draft.
For now, you can pencil in George Fant at left tackle and Connor McGovern in at center. Greg Van Roten is also a probable starter but could end up on either side depending what the team decides to do with Brian Winters. Crucially, though, all three are capable of playing multiple positions.
Fant has started games at both tackle positions and also played a versatile role as an extra tight end, sometimes going in motion or lining up in the slot or in the backfield. McGovern and Van Roten have each played guard, center and tackle at some point in their career. That will give the Jets maximum flexibility in terms of who they can select in the draft and their ability to get the five best linemen on the field.
As for what each player brings to the table, the most obvious thing is athletic ability. All three players have outstanding workout numbers and exhibit this on film. Fant's numbers compare favorably to those of Tristan Wirfs, who recently blew up the combine, and he impresses with his quick feet and ability to move laterally. McGovern and Van Roten also posted tremendous workout numbers across the board and are impressive in their ability to block on the move and adjust to pick up interior pressure.
In 2019, the Jets had a somewhat pedestrian running game and primarily relied on two staple plays: an inside zone run up the middle and a blast play that relied on a pulling lineman and a tight end blocking the edge on the opposite side of the formation. That's likely to change in 2020 as adding these athletic players to the starting five will enable the Jets to be a lot more effective on outside zone runs and able to run more counters and tendency-breakers.
That will be a boost for Le'Veon Bell, who has excelled on such plays in the past and will enable the offense to evolve into something more unpredictable and dynamic than what we saw from them in 2019. They can still use a mixture of zone and power, but all the new additions have experience in both types of systems.
One other commonality between these three players is on-field discipline. In 2019, McGovern didn't commit a single penalty, while Fant and Van Roten only had one each, officially. The Jets have actually been in the middle of the pack for penalties over the past few seasons, but they obviously want to limit the number of times a drive stalls for this reason, which certainly happened at inopportune moments several times last year.
The fourth new addition to the offensive line is Josh Andrews, who has played fewer than 100 offensive snaps in his six-year career, so he's more of a depth addition. However, he also brings versatility and excellent athletic numbers to the table.
While the makeover may only be partially completed, we can also make some determinations about further moves the Jets might make. In fact, we can perhaps narrow down their draft wish list to the most athletic, versatile and dependable players.
For example, if the Jets still opt to draft a tackle in the first round, they might be more inclined to target someone like Wirfs or Jedrick Wills if they drop to 11 than someone like Andrew Thomas, who is technically sound but less of an athletic specimen.
When it comes to offensive linemen, Douglas obviously "has a type." All four of these players are strong, athletic, high-character individuals with big beards. The versatility and on-field discipline that they all bring to the table is obviously not a coincidence. Having all three starters -- as well as Lewis -- on three-year deals also provides some stability.