Joe Douglas is currently in the process of learning the Jets’ roster.The team’s new general manager started learning about his players by combing through game film from last season. Now, he’s on to tape from spring practices for an updated look at the group in front of him.But we figured we could lend Douglas a hand by taking a look, position by position, at the Jets’ roster and assessing what the new GM has to work with at each spot.
With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of the Jets’ situation on the offensive line:
Starters: Kelvin Beachum, Kelechi Osemele, Jonotthan Harrison, Brian Winters, Brandon Shell
Backups: Jon Toth, Tom Compton, Ben Braden, Brent Qvale, Chuma Edoga
Fringe players: Tyler Jones, Jordan Morgan, Toa Lobendahn, Wyatt Miller, Calvin Anderson, Eric Smith
Injury concerns ?
Brandon Shell: The Jets’ starting right tackle suffered a knee injury at the end of last season, which cost him the final two games. But after the season, Shell said he had a six-week timetable for recovery. The Jets were cautious with him at the beginning of this spring, but he’s now back to full health.
Kelechi Osemele: This isn’t so much a current concern as one rooted in the past. As of right now, Osemele is just fine. But he was plagued by injuries in 2018 and believes they are the reason that he did not perform up to his typical standard. He’s on the brink of turning 30, though, so there has to be some level of concern that Osemele is in physical decline – at least until proven otherwise.
With all of the moves the Jets have made this offseason, which players are in better shape now than they were at the end of 2018? Who has fallen out of favor?
Jonotthan Harrison: Harrison spent most of last year as a backup interior lineman, until injuries put him in the starting center job. He fared well enough that the Jets have seemingly penciled him into that role again this season – barring a move to add another starting-caliber center, which seems unlikely at this point. Head coach Adam Gase has raved about Harrison’s intelligence and chemistry with Sam Darnold, which should help him secure the starting job.
Kelechi Osemele: Maybe Osemele is just going from one bad team to another by moving from the Raiders to the Jets. But the fact is that the Jets believed in him and invested in him, swapping an early fifth-round pick for a late sixth-round selection to get him. That also gives Osemele a fresh start after a disappointing 2018, which he surely must welcome.
Brent Qvale: Qvale was the team’s primary backup tackle last season. But this offseason, the Jets signed Compton and drafted Chuma Edoga in the third round. All of a sudden, Qvale could find himself well down the depth chart and, if things go poorly, on the fringes of the roster.
Kelvin Beachum/Brandon Shell: In all likelihood, these two starters aren’t in immediate danger of losing out to Edoga. But bringing the rookie in could be a sign that the Jets will not bring back one of these two players after 2019 – assuming Edoga develops properly, of course.
Pending free agents
Kelvin Beachum: Beachum is in the final season of a deal he signed back in 2016. He’ll hit the open market come March.
Tom Compton: The Jets signed Compton to a one-year deal this past March, so he’ll get to test unrestricted free agency again in 2020.
Brent Qvale: The Jets re-signed Qvale on a one-year contract this spring.
Brandon Shell: Shell is in the fourth and final season of his rookie deal. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Ben Braden: Braden is entering the final year of his deal, but will be an exclusive rights free agent after this season, given his lack of service time. So, the Jets will be able to re-sign him on the cheap next offseason, if he’s still around at that point.
Eric Smith: Smith is entering the final year of his deal, but – like Braden – will be an exclusive rights free agent after this season.
Strengths: Perhaps the best news for the Jets is that there’s some continuity on the offensive line, at least in terms of starters, between this season and last. Yes, the Jets ditched two starters in James Carpenter and Spencer Long. But because Harrison spent the back half of the season in the lineup, the Jets four of their five OL back from the unit that took the field over the final few weeks of 2018.Plus, they got a big upgrade at left guard in Osemele, which should help shore things up.
Weaknesses: Continuity is great and all, but can it really overcome all the issues and inconsistencies that this unit put on display last season? Beachum and Osemele will both be over 30 when the season begins and none of the starters will be younger than 27. So this isn’t even just a line that struggled last year – it’s also an aging unit. Not necessarily the best combo. On the bright side, there’s a chance to overhaul the unit again next year, with two starters playing out their contracts.