Regardless of the name of the Jets quarterback in Week 1 in September, the conventional wisdom is that the Jets suffered greatly last season because of the constant churn on the offensive line. Looking back, Mekhi Becton (who is entering his fourth season in the NFL) has played little because of injuries the past two seasons; the versatile Alijah Vera-Tucker sustained a season-ending injury in Week 7; rookie Max Mitchell stepped in and played well before missing the final month or so of the season with a blood disorder; and the veteran Duane Brown played nearly the entire season with a badly injured shoulder.
Looking ahead, T George Fant, T Nate Herbig, T Cedric Ogbuehi, T Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, backup G Dan Feeney and C Connor McGovern are free agents.
The Jets, holding the No. 13 overall selection in the NFL Draft, have been mentioned as a landing spot for one of several top players on the offensive line.
“To me, [Peter] Skornoski [Northwestern] is the best one,” Jeremiah said. “He can hold up and play tackle, my comparison is to Alijah Vera-Tucker. At the Senior Bowl, he kicked out to tackle and showed he can play it. He might end up as an All-Pro guard who can play tackle. He’s the best in the draft.
“After that, you got two big big guys, intriguing guys with big high ceilings. Paris Johnson [Ohio State] and Broderick Jones [Georgia]. Each has things to work on, they’re not perfect. I think their upsides are tremendous. I think that [Darnell] Wright [Tennessee] is working his way into the conversation. He had a nice week at the Senior Bowl, he’s 340 pounds, but he can move.”
Wright (6-6, 342) is the only senior among those four; Skronoski (6-4, 315) and Jones (6-4, 310) are juniors; and Wright (6-6, 342) is a sophomore.
In a conference call with the media last week, Jeremiah predicted that Jones would be taken by the Jets at No. 13.
“When you look at Broderick Jones, I think his best football is still ahead of him,” Jeremiah said. “He is incredibly strong. He is incredibly athletic. What he can do in the second level stuff and the run game as well as in the screen game is outstanding.”
He added: “Maybe a little top-heavy at times. He gets a little over-aggressive. He is a pretty physical player, but I think there’s a lot to really like about him. I think he could play either side. I think he could play right tackle. He could play left tackle. That would be — that’s why I had him going there. I think it would be a really good fit.”
In addition to the uncertainty at quarterback and along the O-line, Jeremiah said that the Jets, if they’re interested, could land a linebacker in later rounds. Quincy Williams and Kwon Alexander could become free agents next month, while Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen are youthful depth pieces.
With all that said, after last year’s boffo draft, which brought Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson and Jermaine Johnson in the first round and then Breece Hall in the second, Jeremiah sees exciting days ahead for the Jets.
“I think they’re very close,” he said. “You can look at when they were healthy and everyone was saying, ‘gosh they’re only a quarterback away.’ I would say they were [good] health away from making the playoffs. Even though they did not get great play at the quarterback position, I think they would have gotten to the postseason. They have to figure out the quarterback and get it right, and I’m confident they will do that. And they just got to keep these guys healthy. If they can keep players healthy, this is as talented as any team in the league.”