The Jets didn’t exactly make the splash in free agency fans hoped for when the front office targeted George Fant on the first day of the tampering period. However, Fant’s athleticism remains intriguing and characteristic of what to expect for the future of the offensive line.
At first, admittedly, Fant looked like a desperation play after missing out on some of the more prominent names. Still, as I was able to take a step back and examine the situation objectively, the move appears to make sense. For starters, the contract works in the Jets’ favor; his 13.7m in guarantees will be relatively easy to walk away from if he doesn’t pan out.
From a physical standpoint, Fant is the perfect fit for the zone system the Jets deploy. His measurables are very similar to that of Tristan Wirfs (OT)—who broke multiple records at the combine—which should be reassuring for the fanbase.
George Fant (pro day results):
- 6′ 5″ 296 lbs.
- 4.83 Forty yard dash
- 37″ Vertical Jump
- 9′ 11″ Broad Jump
- 22 Bench reps
- 6′ 5″ 320 lbs.
- 4.85 Forty yard dash
- 36.5” Vertical Jump (combine record)
- 10′ 1″ Broad Jump (combine record)
- 24 Bench reps
Last season the Jets were hog-tied by their personnel—mainly along the offensive line—and were missing a key piece to the scheme: the outside zone. The Jets ran stretch plays less than the league average and by all indications that will change.
OZ is a staple of any zone-based system, but finding the right personnel is crucial, and I expect Joe D. to continue targeting players, like Fant, who fit the bill. Ultimately, the Jets want scheme versatile offensive linemen, but for them—and all teams that employ a zone stretch—athleticism comes before power and lateral mobility before vertical push.
Frank Pollack (OL coach) was hired chiefly for his expertise in an outside zone, and as Gang Green builds a team suited for the concept, his knowledge will be indispensable.
Although the Jets re-signed Alex Lewis and retained Brian Winters (for now), that won’t stop Douglas from bringing in more players to compete for starting jobs. I predict he’ll draft at least three OL, including another tackle (preferably at pick 11) to compete with Fant and Edoga; the best two will start. At the very least, Fant will settle in as the swing tackle (6th man).
Below are some draft prospects that project well in a zone-blocking system:
Tristan Wirfs (OT), Iowa, Round 1
Josh Jones (OT), Houston, Round 1
Cesar Ruiz (IOL), Michigan, Round 1-2
Lloyd Cushenberry (IOL), LSU, Round 1-2
Ezra Cleveland (OT), Boise State, Round 1-2
Austin Jackson (OT), USC, Round 1-2
Lucas Niang (OT), TCU, Round 2-3
Jonah Jackson (IOL), Ohio State, Round 2-3
Prince Tega Wanogho (OT), Auburn, Round 2-3
Matt Peart (OT), UConn, Round 2-3
Matt Hennessey (IOL), Temple, Round 2-3
Netane Muti (IOL), Fresno State, Round 2-4
Saahdiq Charles (OT), LSU, Round 3-4
Nick Harris (IOL), Washington, Round 3-5
Hakeem Adeniji (IOL), Kansas, Round 3-5
Josh Jones, in particular, is a player to watch in round one—if the “Big Four” are gone. After Tristan Wirfs, he possesses the attributes that would fit best in a zone-based scheme. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were very high on Joe Douglas’ board.
A tidbit on Connor McGovern:
Last season with the Broncos, McGovern recorded the best performance of his career playing in Rich Scangarello’s offense. Scangarello is a disciple of the Shanahan coaching tree, so McGovern’s transition to the Jets’ zone system should be seamless.
Based on McGovern’s bench reps (33), he must lift moose in the offseason. Strength and mobility are very much part of his game, and according to McGovern’s scouting report on NFL.com, he “takes good angles up to the second level on zone plays targeting the outside shoulder of the linebacker. Solid short area foot quickness and athleticism.” Three years, 27m, and 18m guaranteed is a solid deal for a player of his skill set, who is interchangeable along the interior offensive line.
- 5.11 Forty yard dash
- 9’ 1” Broad Jump
- 7.50 Three Cone Drill
- 4.65 20 Yard Short Shuttle
- 33 Bench Reps