NFL Draft 2018 – Mid-Round Offensive Line Targets

Michael Nania with mid round offensive line targets for the New York Jets in the NFL Draft…

The quarterback debate has gotten the lion’s share of attention among Jets observers leading up to the draft, and for good reason. This pick is going to crown the next face of New York Jets football. However, it should not go forgotten that nearly as important as the franchise quarterback himself is the tandem of five behemoths tasked with protecting his majesty; together forming a highly important barrier that is only as strong as its weakest link. In their current state, the Jets lack the necessary depth and talent to construct a wall of protection fit for their new prodigy.

Mysteriously, the Jets have ignored investing premium draft resources in the offensive line for years, and thus the brittle unit of protection they currently sport should come as no surprise. Their last offensive line selection even as high as round three was Brian Winters in 2013. They have only selected one offensive tackle in their past four drafts (Brandon Shell in the fifth round of 2016). Their last tackle selection of value was Vlad Ducasse in the second round of 2010; who is also the team’s only OL selection taken earlier than round three in the last eleven years.

All in all, since hitting two home runs with D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold in the first round of the 2006 draft, the Jets have not spent a single first round pick on the offensive line. The only other teams without a first round offensive line pick in that span are Tampa Bay and Oakland, who have combined for a whopping zero playoff wins over that period.

The bottom line is this team is sore for some homegrown talent on the offensive front. With the Jets’ second selection not coming until overall selection #72 near the start of the third round, here are a few potential offensive line targets for the Jets in that range.

Martinas Rankin, LT (projected interior), Mississippi State

CBS Sports Overall Ranking: #56

Dalbin Osorio TOJ Big Board Ranking: #80

Conner Rogers TOJ Big Board Ranking: #68

Height/Weight: 6′ 4⅜”, 308 lbs

Key Measurables: Among all OL, 71st-percentile wingspan (81 3/8″) but 45th-percentile bench press (24 reps) and 39th-percentile weight (308 lbs)

Rankin started at left tackle at Mississippi State, but is projected by many as a future starter at guard or center in the NFL due to his lack of sufficient strength and power to survive as a tackle but impressive technique and instincts that could potentially shine more on the inside.

Here’s an example of impressive fundamentals and timing as Rankin executes the open field cut block very well on the screen play.

On the very next play, Rankin allows a hit on the quarterback. The edge rusher sets him up outside and beats him cleanly with an inside swim move.

Rankin’s awareness and instincts are lauded in his scouting reports, and that’s a trait that caught my eye immediately. Communication issues seemed to plague the Jets offensive line tremendously in 2017. His versatility and lauded intangibles alone make him a considerable selection if available in round three. The concerns about his ability to hold up in the run game and in power situations as a tackle are definitely there, but there are nice traits to build off of with Rankin.

Jamarco Jones, LT, Ohio State

CBS Sports Overall Ranking: #82

Dalbin Osorio TOJ Big Board Ranking: #87

Conner Rogers TOJ Big Board Ranking: #72

Height/Weight: 6’5, 310 lbs

Key Measurables: Among tackles, 90th-percentile wingspan (85⅛”) and arm length (35⅛”), but below 15th-percentile hand size, 40, vertical, and 3-cone.

Jones had an accomplished final two years at Ohio State after sitting behind future Detroit Lions first-round pick Taylor Decker. He started every game for the Buckeyes in his junior and senior seasons, being named second-team All-Big Ten in his junior year and elevating to first-team All-Big Ten in his senior year.

Scouts like Jones’ length and ability to “bend but not break,” so to speak, getting the job done with a multitude of adequate skills in spite of a lack of elite traits. However, especially after a poor combine, evaluators seriously question if he has  the required athletic ability or size to survive as a starter.

Here you can see those question marks showing up. Jones is slow off the snap and opens up far too quickly. He is absolutely smoked here allowing the pressure on J.T. Barrett. It’s reps like this one that likely have NFL teams wondering if Jones has adequate athleticism to be a pro tackle.

Next, you’ll see a couple of examples of how Jones has taken advantage of his best tool, his length, to get the job done. The TV announcer incorrectly called out Jones for getting beat here, but this is a designed QB run and Jones does his job perfectly.

NFL.com’s scouting report of Jones cited “[getting] fooled by end/tackle twists” as one of his weaknesses, but here he picks it up well on a good pass protecting snap that ended up a touchdown.

I like Jones’ ability to take advantage of his length and upper body strength, and he seems to understand how to, again, just “do his job.” The history of success for Ohio State linemen combined with Jones’ successful career for the championship-contending Buckeyes also adds intrigue to the idea of drafting him. The scouting community’s concerns about his athleticism are real, though. I’d be a bit hesitant to make him a high third round pick because of those questions, but would be more comfortable with selecting him in the early fourth.

Austin Corbett, LT, Nevada

CBS Sports Overall Ranking: #86

Dalbin Osorio TOJ Big Board Ranking: #82

Conner Rogers TOJ Big Board Ranking: #39

Height/Weight: 6’4 3/8″, 306 lbs

Key Measurables: Among all OL, 77th-percentile 40 time (5.15) and 90th-percentile 20 yard shuttle (4.50), but 31st-percentile arm length (33 1/8″) and 10th percentile bench press (19 reps)

Corbett walked on at Nevada and started four years at left tackle after redshirting in 2013. Similar to Rankin, he projects as an interior lineman in the NFL. He is lauded for his tenacity, athleticism, and intangibles, but is not expected to be able to stick at tackle due to a lack of size and play strength.

Corbett’s intensity stands out as soon as you start focusing on him. Watch him manhandle this defensive tackle for the duration of this play. The DT is further outside and closer to the ball yet still can’t escape Corbett’s clutches to get to the play. Corbett puts him on the ground at the tail end as they disappear from the camera angle.

Below, another nasty block. Though there questions about his size and strength, Corbett combines his plus athleticism with downright mean ferocity to create punishing blocks.

This is a really strong pass protection snap that while watching gave me a hunch of confidence that he can hold up in 1-on-1 power pass pro like this at center, for example, if he were to slide inside.

One weakness I noticed more than a couple of times from Corbett was his cut blocking. He had a few less-than-effective attempts at this type of block.

I was really impressed with what I watched of Corbett. His game film looks like a highlight tape of pancakes. While I agree with the perception that he probably will not be an effective tackle, I’m intrigued to see how he does inside. His tenacity combined with plus movement ability makes him an intriguing prospect. I’m officially labeling him one of “my guys” in this draft, and would be rooting for his selection if on the board at #72.

Photo Credit: NFL.com 

Author: Michael Nania

You can follow me on Twitter @Michael_Nania. I'll be hosting the weekly Jets opponent preview podcast, Know Your Foe, starting with the 2018 regular season. I've been writing for Turn On The Jets since January 2018, and you can also check out more of my work on the Jets over at Gang Green Nation.