Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Randy Lange and Olivia Landis will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: Which new Jets offensive lineman will have the most significant impact in 2020?
EA: GM Joe Douglas made a lot of moves to bolster his offensive line this offseason, but none bigger — literally and figuratively — than the drafting of Mekhi Becton. The best five Jets offensive linemen will play and Becton will have to earn his time, but the 6'7", 364-pounder has chance to make a significant impact immediately. Becton is a people transporter who was a mauler in the run game at Louisville. He wants to dominate and plays with an element of nastiness that the Jets love. "Tremendous athleticism and quickness. And then the power, the power to just take defensive ends and just toss them to the ground," said ESPN's Louis Riddick of Becton during the draft. "And if he gets up to the second level on linebackers, it's really all over." As Joe Douglas said about Becton, he has a lot of "unusual traits" to his game. He played both right tackle (12 starts) and left tackle (21 starts), so he has the versatility to line up on either side. And while it's going to be tough for edge rushers to get around Mt. Becton, the rookie will help QB Sam Darnold by creating holes for RB Le'Veon Bell and setting up play-action opportunities down the field.
EG: The new man at the pivot, Connor McGovern. Sam Darnold played with somewhat of a revolving door at center through two seasons. Spencer Long started eight games Darnold's rookie year before Jonotthan Harrison took over. Last season, Ryan Kalil came out of retirement in August and didn't play in the preseason before starting seven games for the Jets. Like 2018, Harrison then started for the rest of the season. McGovern was the second player general manager Joe Douglas agreed to terms with during free agency and he provides stability. The fifth-year pro started 31 games for the Broncos in 2018-19 and played every snap last season without committing a penalty. According to PFF, he graded No. 10 overall among centers to play at least 50% of their teams' snaps and No. 5 in pass protection. Douglas said he was looking for linemen who have durability and flexibility. McGovern certainly offers durability and he has experience at both center and guard. He'll provide stability not only for Darnold but for the rest of the line as well. The Missouri product will be in charge with helping his signal-caller and linemates with different checks and identifying different defensive fronts. While most of the O-lineman added will make a significant impact in 2020, I'm going with the QB of the group.
RL: Undoubtedly, Connor McGovern and George Fant will have significant impacts at C and T respectively, and hopefully rookie Mekhi Becton too. But I'm very interested to see how Greg Van Roten fares at G. Van Roten wasn't perceived as the Jets' top OL signing this offseason but he performed quite well for Carolina before he missed the final 5 games last year with injury. In GVR's 26 starts at LG in 2018-19, he contributed to a unit that in that span was No. 1 in the NFL in yards/rush (5.08), No. 4 in rush yards/game (130.3) and No. 4 in best run stuff percentage allowed (7.2%). The pass protection for that unit wasn't as impressive at 6.7% sack rate allowed, 13th-best in the league, but keep in mind Kyle Allen, the second-most-sackable QB in the NFL last year, was the Panthers starter from Games 3-11. I am optimistic that Van Roten will be a key contributor to the group in getting Le'Veon Bell back to running the way he knows how and thus helping the Sam Darnold-led passing game to fire on all cyclinders right out of the gate.
OL: If given the opportunity to start, I believe Mekhi Becton will impact the line significantly in 2020. Taken No. 11 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft the rookie's rare combination of size and athleticism at the tackle position were recognized by GM Joe Douglas. At 6'7" and 364 pounds, Becton is one of the largest protectors not only in this year's draft but also along any offensive line in the league. At Louisville, Becton showed his versatility by starting 12 games at RT and 21 at LT, making him a perfect fit for Douglas' vision of having multitalented linemen. Last season, Sam Darnold and the Jets QBs were sacked a total of 52 times or on 10.0% of their dropbacks (ranked No. 30), and the team averaged just 3.28 yards per rush (ranked 32nd). Becton's size, mobility and speed may play a large role in filling big gaps this season and bringing the protection to the third-year signal-caller that Douglas promised this offseason.