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Jets' aging offensive line needs infusion of young talent

This is the fifth installment of our position-by-position breakdown for the New York Jets as we head to the April 28-30 draft:

Position: Offensive line

Current personnel: Ryan Clady, James Carpenter, Nick Mangold, Brian Winters, Breno Giacomini, Brent Qvale, Ben Ijalana, Wesley Johnson, Dakota Dozier, Jarvis Harrison, Craig Watts, Lawrence Okoye, Luke Marquardt.

Key newcomers: Clady.

Departures: D'Brickashaw Ferguson (retired), Willie Colon (free agent).

Projected starters: Clady, Carpenter, Mangold, Winters, Giacomini.

Overview: A once-formidable offensive line (circa 2008-2010) has eroded because of neglect and poor drafting. The Jets are one of only three teams that haven't drafted a lineman in the first round since 2006, when they picked Ferguson and Mangold. It's time to start replenishing the pipeline. Only one starter -- Carpenter at left guard -- factors into the long-term plan. Assuming he's healthy, Clady is a nice stop-gap at left tackle, replacing Ferguson. Clady will be 30 by opening day and has a recent history of major injuries, so you can't count on him beyond this year. Mangold's window is closing. On the right side, Winters and Giacomini are marginal starters. The Jets need to come out of this draft with at least two linemen who can take over starting jobs in 2017. They could take a lineman with the 20th pick, which wouldn't bode well for Winters or Giacomini.

The last offensive lineman drafted: A year ago, the Jets picked Harrison in the fifth round, and he spent most of the season on the practice squad. In 2013 and 2014, they drafted four linemen in the mid to late rounds, none of whom have panned out -- an indictment of the old scouting department.

Potential targets (projected round)

  • Taylor Decker, Ohio State (first round): He's generally regarded as the fourth-best tackle in the draft. There's a chance the Big Ten offensive lineman of the year could fall to the Jets at 20. Decker (6-foot-7, 310 pounds) played left tackle in college, but many believe he projects to right tackle in the NFL. He's a nasty run blocker; the Buckeyes averaged a conference-best 7.4 yards per carry on runs outside the left tackle last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Decker was a solid pass protector on the college level (two sacks allowed), but he may not have the athleticism to handle the left side in the league. He wouldn't be a sexy pick for the Jets, but he'd upgrade the talent level on the line.

  • Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M (first round): Suddenly, Ifedi is a hot name. It's amazing how that happens, isn't it? He intrigued talent evaluators because of his massive body (6-foot-6 324 pounds) and long arms (36 inches). He's also an excellent athlete, but he needs a lot of technique work. He allowed five sacks and was charged with 12 penalties as a right tackle last season, per PFF, but he can slide inside to guard. He has a high ceiling, but he'd be a reach at 20 because he'll need time.

  • Jason Spriggs, Indiana (first/second round): Spriggs recently visited the Jets. He's one of the better athletes among the tackles, ideal in a zone-blocking scheme (the Jets are mainly a man-blocking team). He had only two penalties and three sacks allowed in 1,100 snaps last season, per PFF. He could play right tackle for a year and switch to the left side. He'd be a great pick in the second round (51), but he'll probably be off the board by then.

Need factor (based on a scale of 1 to 10): 8.