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Jets O-Lineman Max Mitchell: 'It Was Just a Crazy, Crazy Year'

Injuries Again Had a Big Impact in Year 2 of Tackle’s NFL Career


The Jets' 2022 draft class yielded four starters with superstar potential: CB Sauce Gardner, WR Garrett Wilson, edge Jermaine Johnson and RB Breece Hall.

After selecting TE Jeremy Ruckert in the third round, with the 111th pick, the Jets on Day 3 of the draft selected offensive lineman Max Mitchell out of Louisiana Lafayette. Pro Football Focus rated him highest in the nation among tackles and figured to provide insurance on an O-line that included Mekhi Becton, George Fant, Duane Brown and Laken Tomlinson.

But Mitchell unexpectedly found himself starting in Week 1 of the 2022 season against Baltimore. He played 100% of the snaps on offense through three games, missed six games with a dislocated knee, returned to limited duty in two games and then was sidelined for the balance of the season as he dealt with a serious blood-clot disorder, V Leiden.

"Last year was definitely one of the more interesting years of my life," Mitchell, 24, said. "I couldn't do much toward the end of the year. I got home and had some things to work around."

Year 2 started slowly, inactive for the first two games, limited snaps over the next three. Then a string of six-straight games in which he played all the snaps on offense before he was supplanted at right tackle by rookie Carter Warren. A neck injury sustained against Houston in Week 14 (Dec. 10) kept him out of the Miami game the next week and limited him to spot duty on special teams the rest of the way.

"It was a rollercoaster of the year," he said. "The hype preseason [with the acquisition of QB Aaron Rodgers], "Hard Knocks," it was cool being a part of that. When Aaron went down, it kind of changed our whole season. Every week after that after Week 1 win [in OT vs. Buffalo on Sept. 11] there was something different we were dealing with, especially with O-line and how banged up we were. It was just a crazy, crazy year."

Take a look through some of the best photos throughout the Jets 2023 season.

He added: "This was definitely the most interesting team I've ever been a part of. I felt like a sponge this year. I learned so much this year from the veterans in the room, we had a lot of guys who were seasoned in there. It was another year kind of figuring things out, how the league works, how the team works. I just took a lot out of it."

With his health less of an issue at the beginning of this offseason, the burly Mitchell (6-6, 299) said he is motivated to compete even more after the devastation on the offensive line this past season that saw the Jets' four starting quarterbacks playing behind an ever-changing unit.

"I didn't take the stride I wanted to this past year, it was more of a consistency issue," he said. "I think there's another level out there that I can achieve. I look forward to going into Year 3 as a big steppingstone year. This year I wanted to improve my pass pro. There's always some specifics there that I want to improve. But I just don't want to have to leave a doubt if I'm going to start that I can maintain the role and be more of a consistent anchor.

"I don't want to leave any doubt that I can start, or at least maintain my role, whatever role I'm put in. So, I definitely want to be in the conversation next season."

What that conversation will sound like, and what the O-line will look like, will certainly be a huge topic of conversation as the free-agency period begins in mid-March, to be followed by the NFL Draft at the end of April. The view from January is that the Jets can pencil in only two players -- C Joe Tippmann and G Alijah Vera-Tucker -- in the five-man unit.

"I couldn't be more excited," Mitchell said. "Last year was such a weird way to end the year. This year coming off being healthy most of the year makes me excited to kind of do the things I want to do."

He's heading home to Louisiana before beginning his offseason training regimen in Texas, followed by a bit of travel.

"Just reset, and come back ready to go," Michell said.

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