Entering free agency General Manager Joe Douglas talked about the Jets' offensive line being in a better place, but maintained it could be better. And at the start of the League Year, Douglas added a Pro Bowl OL in Laken Tomlinson, a free agent who spent the past four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.
The Jets coaching staff became well acquainted with Tomlinson in San Francisco from 2017-20 as OC Mike LaFleur and OL coach/run game coordinator John Benton held staff positions under Kyle Shanahan while Robert Saleh guided the defense. The durable Tomlinson has been a fixture on the 49ers' offensive line. After missing his first game with San Francisco, Tomlinson played the remaining 15 games in 2017, then all 16 regular-season contests in 2018, 2019 and 2020. He played in all 17 games this past season, when the NFL expanded the regular-season schedule with an additional game. Over the past five seasons, Tomlinson has played in 6,292 of 6,294 possible snaps.
According to Pro Football Focus, Tomlinson in 2021 had a second consecutive overall grade above 75, and he also recorded a much-improved, career-best 75.2 pass-blocking grade. In the past three seasons he has played 100% of the 49ers' snaps on offense. In 2021, he took 1,091 snaps while committing only 8 total penalties (4 holding, 4 false starts).
See the best images of the former 49er and Jets free agency addition.
Tomlinson, 30, a four-year starter at Duke, was taken by Detroit in the first round (No. 28 overall) in the 2015 NFL Draft. He became the first Blue Devil taken in the first round since Mike Junkin in 1987. Tomlinson (6-3, 315) graduated from Duke with degrees in evolutionary anthropology and psychology. He was traded to the 49ers for a fifth-round pick in August 2017.
After developing under Benton into one of the best and most consistent guards in the league, Tomlinson will fit in seamlessly in the Jets' wide-zone scheme being run by LaFleur. Douglas has addressed the offensive line in the first round of each of his two drafts as general manager and Tomlinson (30) joins a group that includes Alijah Vera-Tucker, George Fant, Mekhi Becton and Connor McGovern.
Tomlinson was born in Jamaica and moved to Chicago with his family when he was 11 years old. He was a two-sport star (football and track) at Lane Technical College Prep High School. He was all-state in football his senior year, and excelled in the discus and shot put.