Pros & cons: Should Jets draft an offensive lineman in the first round?

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The 2022 NFL draft could put Joe Douglas’ “best player available” strategy to the test.

There is a very real possibility that some of the best offensive linemen in the class could fall to the Jets at No. 4 or No. 10. But should Douglas take an offensive lineman in the first round for a third consecutive year? It’s a tough question considering Douglas’ preference to take the top player in spite of positional need.

The Jets don’t need an elite offensive lineman, but that doesn’t mean they won’t draft one. We broke down the pros and cons of making such a pick in the first round.

Pro: Mekhi Becton insurance

(Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

The Jets expect Becton to be fully recovered from a dislocated kneecap by training camp, but that doesn’t mean he’ll return to his 2020 form. Becton already has to fight for the left tackle position with George Fant, and he could be moved to the right side of the offensive line. If the Jets take a tackle with either the fourth or 10th pick, that would provide a level of security in case Becton isn’t healthy or flops in Year 3.

Con: Ignoring other positions

(Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports)

The offensive line isn’t a major need for Gang Green. The Jets could use another edge rusher, cornerback and receiver – if they don’t trade for one. So even if an offensive lineman is the best player on the board, not taking one of the positions of need could hurt the Jets’ ability to improve.

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Pro: Possible cap flexility

(Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

The Jets could get a little cap relief if they draft an offensive lineman to replace one of the veteran starters. New York could save about $9 million each by releasing center Connor McGovern or tackle George Fant. The Jets wouldn’t cut either player, though, unless they took an offensive lineman who could supplant that starter.

Con: Might not be Day 1 starter

(Nell Redmond-AP)

One of the positive reasons for drafting an offensive lineman in the first round is also a major consequence. Douglas said he expects to draft two “impact” players in the first round, but an offensive lineman wouldn’t be guaranteed to start Day 1. The Jets’ starting five on the offensive is already locked in with Becton, Fant, McGovern, Laken Tomlinson and Alijah Vera-Tucker, and only Becton and Fant are jockeying for a position. That doesn’t leave much room for a rookie to come in and win a job.

Verdict

(Michael Conroy)

Even if an offensive lineman is the best player on the board at No. 4 or No. 10, the Jets have much bigger needs. New York would be better-served drafting and edge rusher, defensive back or receiver instead.

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