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Jets OL Reset: One Last Pre-Camp Look at the Redesigned Line

Winters Returns; New Arrivals Include Fant, McGovern, Van Roten, Becton & Clark

Denver Broncos offensive guard Connor McGovern (60) blocks during an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders, Monday, Sept. 9, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. The Raiders defeated the Broncos, 24-16. (Ryan Kang via AP)
Table inside Article
How Signed Returning Jets Newly Arrived Recently Departed
Draft G Brian Winters (2013 3rd Rd), T Chuma Edoga (2019 3rd Rd) T Mekhi Becton (2020 1st Rd), OL Cameron Clark (2020 4th Rd) T Brandon Shell (2016 5th Rd/2020 UFA SEA)
UFAs OL Connor McGovern (2020 DEN), T George Fant (2020 SEA), G Greg Van Roten (2020 CAR), OL Josh Andrews (2020 IND) T Kelvin Beachum (2017 JAX/2020 VFA ARZ), G Tom Compton (2019 MIN/2020 UFA SF)
Trades OL Alex Lewis (2019 BAL/Re-signed)
Waivers OL Conor McDermott (2019 BUF)
VFAs OL Jonotthan Harrison (2017), OL Ben Braden (2019), OL Leo Koloamatangi (2019), OL Jimmy Murray (2019) OL Brent Qvale (2016 VFA/2020 UFA HOU), C Ryan Kalil (2019 VFA/2020 VFA)
1YFAs OL Corbin Kaufusi (2019), OL Brian Lundblade (2019)
UDRFAs OL Jared Hilbers (2020)

Cornerstones and Returnees
With all the changes that GM Joe Douglas, HC Adam Gase and their staffs implemented along the Jets' offensive line this offseason, it only seems as if no familiar names are returning, but there are a few. Most recognizable is G Brian Winters, who is not the longest tenured NFL player on the Jets but is the longest tenured Jet as he starts his eighth season in green and white. Injuries have bothered him throughout his career, including last year when he spent the last seven games on IR with knee and shoulder woes. But when healthy he's been stout and his cumulative Jets numbers are impressive: 89 games, 79 starts, 5,040 offensive snaps and 284 more plays on ST.

Returning with Winters for camp are several other players who made starts: C Jonotthan Harrison,a half-season starter for the third straight season, last season coming on for Ryan Kalil; Chuma Edoga, the 2019 third-rounder who made eight starts (six at RT, two at LT); Alex Lewis, a trade acquisition from the Ravens last year who wound up starting 12 games at LG; and Conor McDermott, a September waiver pickup from the Bills who pitched in with two late-season starts at RG.

Ben Braden also saw limited action, Leo Koloamatangi was active for the second half but didn't play, and Jimmy Murray, Corbin Kaufusi and Brian Lundblade spent time on the practice squad and signed reserve/future deals.

See the Jets OL in Images Leading Up to the 2020 Season

Comings and Goings
A steady stream of new, experienced arrivals flowed through the spring. Connor McGovern, the Broncos' starter at RG and C for three years, was the first to climb aboard the Jets, as an unrestricted free agent. Three days later, Greg Van Roten, the Panthers' LG starter for 27 consecutive games in 2018-19, and Josh Andrews, a versatile backup for the Eagles and Colts, came in next, also as UFAs. And George Fant came cross-country after playing 48 games (including playoffs) and starting 24, at LT, RT and third TE, for the Seahawks since 2016.

Then the Jets' rookie class was unveiled, starting with their first-round pick, 11th overall, of 6'7", 363-pound Mekhi Becton out of Louisville. T Cameron Clark was next in the fourth round from Charlotte. And Jared Hilbers, another 6'7" O-lineman (but a mere 315 pounds) was signed as an undrafted FA out of Washington.

Kelvin Beachum, after three Jets seasons and 45 starts at LT, left as a UFA and signed with the Cardinals earlier this month. Brandon Shell, after four Jets seasons and 40 starts (all but one at RT), reversed Fant's course for a new team and signed with the Seahawks. Brent Qvale, after finishing on the active roster in his sixth season as a Jets jack-of-all-trades linemen, left as a UFA and signed with the Texans. Tom Compton got five starts at RG, finished on IR, and relocated to the 49ers. Ryan Kalil, after coming out of retirement to start the first seven games at C, then going on injured reserve the rest of the way, left as a free agent.

OL coach Frank Pollack has had a different offseason trying to get all his new and returning linemen on the same chemistry page, what with the COVID pandemic forcing all teams to turn to virtual offseason programs. But he likes his group's youthful experience, versatility and mental grasp of the offense from their video sessions.

And he's not yet revealing who he thinks will be starting this season and at what positions.

"I always come in every year, wherever I've been, with the stance that every job's open," Pollack said. "From a player's perspective, you need to keep that pressure on yourself so you can compete at a high level. And from a coaching perspective, I want guys to compete at their best. I'm not going to limit anyone.

"We've got great competition at all five spots. It's everywhere and I'm real excited about that. We've got talent, we've got experience, we've got depth, which allows us to take that approach. And I'm real excited about getting that going."