Breaking down the New York Jets' roster, unit by unit, in preparation for training camp, which begins July 29:
Position: Offensive line
Top storyline: Welcome to the post-Mangold era. For the first time since 2005, the offensive line won't have Nick Mangold at center, directing traffic. He was a stabilizing force, helping the offense as it went from Chad Pennington to Brett Favre to Mark Sanchez to Geno Smith to Ryan Fitzpatrick. But nothing lasts forever in the NFL, and it was time to move on. As one opposing scout said, "Mangold looked like he was done." The post-Mangold line will have at least two new starters, Johnson and Beachum. It'll be three if Shell beats out Qvale and Ijalana, who is making starter's money ($5.5 million) and is one of the best five. We gave Shell a slight edge because the organization likes his upside. This could be a solid line if everything breaks right.
Player to watch: Johnson did a serviceable job as Mangold's fill-in last season, starting eight games and playing 588 snaps in the pivot, but the degree of difficulty goes up when you're The Guy. He's never been an opening-day starter, so the Jets are taking a calculated gamble. Johnson is very smart, so mastering the new offense shouldn't be a problem. He's not overpowering at the point of attack, so he'd probably be more efficient in zone-blocking scheme.
Wild card: Beachum was the Jets' lone splurge in free agency -- a $12 million guarantee. The question is, will they get the 2015 Beachum or the 2016 version? He was a player on the rise with the Pittsburgh Steelers before knee surgery in October 2015. He went to the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he failed to regain his pre-injury form. Sometimes it takes a full season after surgery before a player feels right; the Jets are betting on that. At his best, Beachum -- only 6-foot-3 -- is a surprisingly agile pass protector.
Training camp will be a success if ...: Everyone is healthy and gets substantial practice time. That may sound obvious, but consider the circumstances: Winters didn't practice in the spring because of rotator-cuff surgery; Ijalana missed some time due to a knee scope; and Beachum was limited due to knee soreness. Get the picture?
By the numbers: This might surprise you, but the Jets were among the top teams last season in short-yardage situations. They converted 19 of 24 third-and-1 plays when running the ball, the fourth-best percentage (79.2) in the league, per ESPN Stats & Information. They weren't as effective on fourth-and-1, as they converted only three of six chances. This year's line needs to establish a smash-mouth mentality because, let's face it, they won't be throwing their way to many wins.