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What will the New York Jets offensive line look like in 2016? Starting lineup and key backups?
Joe Caporoso – The New York Jets primary moves this off-season on the offensive line will be restructuring D’Brickashaw Ferguson, finding a replacement right tackle and adding interior depth/competition. On the free agent market, they could look to tackles like Andre Smith or Mitchell Schwartz or an interior depth player like Kraig Urbik, if he is released. In the draft, their first overall pick could end up being a tackle and it wouldn’t be surprising if they added another depth option in later rounds.
Ultimately, they will open camp with Ferguson, Nick Mangold, James Carpenter, Brian Winters and a right tackle not currently on the roster as starters. Jarvis Harrison and a guard currently not on the roster will compete with Winters for the starting role. Brent Qvale will remain on the roster as a depth tackle. Ben Ijalana will not be back next season.
Dalbin Osorio – If it was up to me, the Jets OL (one of the worst units in the league) would add 3 new starters in free agency and the draft. However, this isn’t Madden and that’s probably not going to happen. I would sign Andre Smith from the Bengals, draft Ronnie Stanley from Notre Dame, and restructure D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Stanley could start at OG until Brick retires and then move to LT. With that said, I think the Jets OL remains largely the same. The one obvious candidate to get cut is Breno Giacomini, but even his release isn’t as sure a thing as I first thought when the offseason began. A lot of people like to point out the low sack total given up as proof that the Jets OL isn’t as bad as it really is, but that’s more a testament to the offense and Ryan Fitzpatrick getting the ball out quickly. Add all that up and I think Maccagnan opts for continuity and keeps the same 5 guys as the starters heading into week one
Joe Malfa – While everyone is focused on the men in the trenches on the defensive side of the ball, I believe the biggest question marks lie on the offensive side of the trenches. While Snacks may be the only player gone on the defensive line, there may be a lot of maneuvering on the offensive line. All of the offensive linemen are under contract, but by no means are they all safe.The two locks are Mangold at center and Carpenter at left guard, but outside of those two, it may be a very fluid offseason. Giacomini may get cut, Ferguson may either restructure his deal or find himself on the chopping block as well, and they cannot head into the season with Brian Winters as the other guard. They may look to add players in free agency with OT Kelvin Beachum, OG Ramon Foster, and OT Mike Adams from Pittsburgh (who has a nightmarish cap situation), and OG Alex Boone from San Francisco being the top targets. They may also look to add through the draft with Ohio State’s Taylor Decker at #20 overall. The young pups in Dakota Dozier and Jarvis Harrison are the forgotten men in this equation, but they will get a fair shot at supplanting Winters as well.
When the dust settles, I believe Ferguson will be back at left tackle at a reduced rate. Carpenter and Mangold are locks at left guard and center. Maccagnan will look to bolster right guard through free agency and retain Dozier and Harrison as backups for at least another year of refining. Lastly, they will keep Giacomini for the time being, but he will not be safe because they will still look to draft Taylor Decker at #20 if he is the best player available.
David Aitken – This is a unit that was in need of an overhaul a few years ago, and the Jets will continue to feel the effects of missed draft picks and blown opportunities if the position group is not addressed ASAP. Unfortunately if the Jets are to retain important pieces set to hit free agency, splashing the cash to bring in definite upgrades on the offensive line will be difficult. I expect Giacomini to be released and Ferguson to take a heavily restructured deal. From there it’s a game of finding an immediate upgrade for Giacomini and addressing the near future behind Ferguson. It wouldn’t hurt to address depth in the interior later in the draft too.
An educated guess at the starting five and key depth: the starting line looks largely the same, with Joe Barksdale coming in on a cheap contract to start at right tackle. In the first three rounds the Jets are also drafting another offensive tackle, I’ll go with LSU’s Jerald Hawkins in round two. Jarvis Harrison and Dakota Dozier get a shot to stake their claim at right guard, and Qvale remains on the active roster as a swing tackle.Kevin Zielaznicki – The most talked about members of the OL group this offseason will be D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Breno Giacomini. After seeing a major decline in his level of play the past two seasons and having a huge cap number, there is an chance Brick won’t be back with the Jets in 2016. Giacomini’s play has been below average since he came here from the Seattle Seahawks and I will be shocked if he is still on the roster come August. That being said, it is a real possibility that the Jets could have to find replacements at LT and RT in one offseason. That is a huge task for second year GM Mike Maccagnan. Some potential free agent names that have been linked to the Jets as replacements have been Andre Smith, Mitchell Schwartz, and Joe Barksdale. In the draft, it is possible the Jets could land an OT like Ronnie Stanley, Taylor Decker, and Jack Conklin. Once Macc figures out the OT situation, look for the Jets to make small free agent moves to improve the inside depth of the o-line.
My prediction for the Jets starting offensive line next season: LT – Brick. LG – James Carpenter. C – Nick Mangold. RG – Jarvis Harrison. RT – Taylor Decker (R). Key backups: Brent Qvale, Dakota Dozier, and Brian Winters.
Anthony Cappuccino – This is most likely the toughest position group to predict heading into the 2016 season for the Jets. In 2015 we saw D’brick show major signs of decline, Giacomini had a disappointing season, and when Mangold went down, the Jets were a mess. In order for the Jets to make a playoff push next year, this unit needs to vastly improve.
That being said, like my colleagues above, I expect the Jets to cut Giacomini and restructure Ferguson to create more usable cap space. To fill the void at Right Tackle, the Jets should look towards the free agent class to find cost friendly replacements. Names like Andre Smith and Mitchell Schwartz are two names that they could look to bolster the right side of the line. As for the draft, the name Nick Martin out of Notre Dame really stands out to me. Projected currently as a 2nd-3rd round pick, he can play both the center and guard positions and would be an ideal add to compete for the right guard spot with Brian Winters and Jarvis Harrison while also providing much needed depth at center. An early prediction at the line going into camp: Ferguson, Carpenter, Mangold, Winters/Nick Martin, Andre Smith. Backups will be Qvale, Dozier, and Jarvis Harrision.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com