The offensive line was a huge disappointment for the Jets in 2017, especially on the interior. In 2016, Wesley Johnson started eight games for the injured Nick Mangold, and the line didn't seem to suffer too badly. However, he struggled throughout the 2017 season after moving into the full-time starter role.
Guards Brian Winters and James Carpenter also failed to play as well as they had in 2016, although that may partly have been caused by Johnson struggling on their inside shoulder. Injuries were also an issue here, with Winters in particular playing most of the season hurt, and eventually requiring surgery on an abdominal issue.
Dakota Dozier's performances in relief of Winters over the past few years have some people wondering if it was really wise to give Winters a big money extension, when Dozier doesn't appear to be much of a downgrade. However, he's out of contract now, so the Jets may need to replenish their depth.
Rick Dennison being hired as the new running game coordinator is another factor. The Jets will be specifically looking for players who can thrive in a zone-blocking scheme, which generally means smaller and more mobile linemen. Carpenter may not be ideally suited to this system, so it's possible the Jets will move on from him, and require a new starter at one of their guard positions.
The only interior lineman who is currently regarded as a realistic possibility with the sixth pick is Notre Dame's Quenton Nelson. Ordinarily, selecting a guard that high wouldn't be recommended because it's not commonly viewed as a high-influence position. However, Nelson has a chance to be special.
Would Nelson's impact on an offense be that much more significant than the next best guard, though? Teams might be reluctant to pass on a premium talent at a more influential positon if they think they can get a guard that's almost as good with a later pick.
Two contenders to be considered as the next best guard could be UTEP's Will Hernandez or Georgia's Isaiah Wynn. Hernandez's stock has been rising, but he's looking to dispel concerns that he's ineffective at blocking on the move, which would mean he was ill-suited to a system like Dennison's. Wynn is versatile, having played left tackle this year and some center in the past. While he lacks ideal length, he might be the best technician in this year's class.
At the center position, the top prospects will be hoping they can sneak into the first round but might be an option for the Jets with one of their second round picks if they don't. Ohio State's Billy Price is the name that seems to be getting the most hype, but Frank Ragnow from Arkansas has more impressive film and pass protection numbers. He missed much of last year through injury though.
Many of the remaining interior linemen prospects can play both center and guard, which boosts their value to a team like the Jets who need long-term starters and short-term depth at multiple positions.
Most of the top center prospects would also be capable of playing guard, especially in a zone blocking scheme. 2017 starting centers James Daniels from Iowa, Bradley Bozeman from Alabama, Scott Quessenberry from UCLA, and Michigan State's Brian Allen all started multiple games at guard earlier in their career. Quessenberry and Allen could be good value on day three.
Another guard who showed off his versatility last year was Iowa's Sean Welsh, who started multiple games at tackle. He struggled there, but was solid at his preferred guard position, although he perhaps needs to add some strength.
One player who has received a lot of attention is Washington State's Cody O'Connell. He's absolutely huge at 6-foot-8, 354 pounds, but looks to be raw on film, as he obviously needs to improve his footwork. He could be an interesting development project though.
Auburn's Braden Smith, North Carolina State's Tony Adams, and Wyatt Teller from Virginia Tech are three other guard options. Smith didn't have a single penalty in 2017, while Teller and Adams got through the whole season without giving up a sack.
Upgrading the interior line is a major priority for the Jets. The Jets might feel that the scheme changes and better health will improve matters in 2018. However, if they can find a few starter-level players in the draft rather than by spending big money in free agency, this will give them the best chance of building an offensive line that can be competitive for several years.