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ESPN's Matt Miller on the Jets: 'It Starts With Protecting Aaron Rodgers' in NFL Draft

G&W Have Three ‘Solid Young Players’ on OL: Alijah Vera-Tucker, Joe Tippmann and Carter Warren


Perhaps the worst-kept secret in the NFL is that the Jets must beef up and add depth to their offensive line if quarterback Aaron Rodgers is to stay upright in his return from Achilles tendon surgery.

"It starts with protecting Aaron Rodgers, that is the biggest thing," ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller said on a recent edition of "The Official Jets Podcast." "You have a 40-year-old quarterback coming off an Achilles injury. We have not seen that happen. You have to protect him, and we say that even in limited time with Aaron last season."

The Green & White basically saw their season go sideways only four plays into the Week 1 opener against Buffalo when Rodgers crumpled to the MetLife Stadium turf. His torn Achilles tendon ended his season before it really began. Even if Rodgers had not been injured, he like the other three QBs the Jets used, would have had to navigate a difficult situation that saw the team trot out 13 different combinations on the offensive line.

"The Jets need linemen," Miller said in his conversation with Eric Allen. "I think we are still trying to figure out what AVT is going to be. I was a huge fan of his coming out of USC, he has so much versatility. I thought [guard] Carter Warren showed some things last year and [center] Tippmann is still in the mix, so they can feel like they have got a couple of guys.

"The Jets have three guys that I feel like are solid young players. They have figured out their nucleus. So, can they bring in a veteran tackle? Maybe Tyron Smith [Dallas' free-agent tackle] wants to come to New York and chase a ring and you have your left tackle figured out. And then you are sitting at [No.] 10 [in April's NFL Draft] thinking you can address something there. This is a very right tackle heavy draft. Left tackle might be a free-agency move, right tackle is rich at pick 10."

Vera-Tucker, 24, who will be entering his third season with the Jets after being selected No. 14 overall in the 2021 draft, is also coming off an Achilles tendon injury. Though he is among the most versatile O-linemen in the league, having played guard and tackle, GM Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh have pledged to anchor AVT at one position in the 2024 season.

Miller floated the possibility that the Jets could opt to trade down from the No. 10 selection if they could in free agency land someone to play left tackle. Those options include Tyron Smith (Chiefs), Jonah Williams (Bengals), Donovan Smith (Chiefs), Charles Leno (Commanders) and Jermaine Eluemunor (Raiders).

"If you can solve left tackle in free agency or trade, then you can slide back and get a right tackle," Miller said. "That group of guys is grouped very closely together. There is not one of those right tackles outside of [Taliese] Fuaga [Oregon State] that I would say I need to use No. 10 to draft him. If Fuaga is off the board, they might like Tyler Guyton [TCU/Oklahoma] just as much and that is a scenario where they can move back and pick up some of that extra draft capital they used to get a guy like Aaron Rodgers."

Miller went even a bit deeper in his praise of Guyton (6-7, 328), who played both left and right tackle for the Sooners after transferring from TCU in January 2022. In his first season with Oklahoma, he took 400 snaps and allowed only 2 sacks and zero QB hits.

"I love him," Miller said. "I think it is a matter of he is learning. But my goodness, all of the athletic tools are there. My comparison for him is Lane Johnson [Eagles], who was a guy that moved from quarterback to tight end to offensive tackle. Guyton has some of that similar good to his game. The frame is there, the agility is there, the movement is there, the mentality is all there, he just needs a little more time to become great. He could be your Week 1 starting right tackle, but there is a lot of room there to get better."

Staying with the offense, Miller believes the Jets would be well served to consider drafting a quarterback on Day 3, April 27, of the draft. Douglas said that the Jets have given Zach Wilson's representative permission to seek a trade, which means the Green & White will be in the market for a No. 2 and perhaps a No. 3 who could be developed over the next several years.

"I would draft a quarterback every year if you have the picks to do it," Miller said. At present, the Jets have five draft picks (none in the second round) including two in the fourth round while three late-round compensatory selections could be on the way.

"This is a weak quarterback class on Day 3," Miller said. "Spencer Rattler [Oklahoma/South Carolina] would be fun behind Aaron Rodgers, but he is probably going to go in the third round and I can't justify spending a third-round pick on a quarterback. But I think you look at a guy like Carter Bradley from South Alabama, Michael Pratt from Tulane. I think this is a year to be smart and they have even said they want to try and have a better plan behind Aaron this year. But, I do think this is a year you make sure you get a young QB in the building."

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