Sun, 26 Sep 2021

Mekhi Becton, Alijah Vera-Tucker Could Become Neighbors Up Front in 2021   Ethan Greenberg

What's New

The Jets have some new players up front, most recently former Washington T Morgan Moses. Moses (6-6, 330) signed with the Green & White July 2 after playing seven seasons in Washington and starting all 16 games in each of the last six seasons. He adds a nasty demeanor up front and should improve the team's rushing attack. He ranked seventh in the NFL in run blocking among tackles with an 85.9 grade, according to Pro Football Focus.

General Manager Joe Douglas also signed OL Dan Feeney in free agency. Feeney played LG, C and RG for the Chargers over the last four seasons. Outside of bringing a spectacular mullet to the OL room, Feeney brings "a little bit of grit, a little bit of toughness, a little bit of want-to."

He's been one of the most available linemen in the NFL since he was drafted in the third round out of Indiana in 2017. He's taken the 23rd-most offensive snap counts among all O-linemen in the league in the past four seasons combined, he's one of 21 players and one of 15 O-linemen to start all 48 regular-season games and he tied for the NFL lead among all positions in most offensive snaps -- he played in every single of LA's plays.

Then in the first round of the NFL Draft, Douglas traded up nine spots from No. 23 to No. 14 and selected USC OL Alijah Vera-Tucker. Vera-Tucker (6-5, 308) is another versatile lineman -- he played LG in 2019 before he kicked out to LT in 2020 when he won the Morris Award, given to the top linemen in the Pac 12.

"Where we were sitting at 23, we felt we had a unique opportunity to get a top-10 player in our minds as our board was stacked," Douglas said of the trade up. "To go up and get a guy like Alijah Vera-Tucker, a player that has started at tackle, has started at guard and has been highly productive at both. That versatility and that production is something we really value."

Players to Watch

C Connor McGovern quietly closed out the 2020 season -- his first as a Jet -- on a high note. After a self-described rocky start to the season, he finished Weeks 7-17 with a 71.2 PFF grade, which ranked No. 10 among all centers in the NFL. From Weeks 9-17, he had a 73.3 grade, which ranked No. 8. McGovern is entering his sixth professional season and has had a new coordinator each year, but he believes the Green & White's system suits him the best.

"The outside-zone aspect, this system, is more tailored to a little bit more athletic, especially interior, linemen," McGovern said. "Linemen who can really get off the ball and that kind of thing. That's kind of how I've made my living. I'm definitely not the biggest guy on the offensive line in the NFL, but I strive to be one of the faster, quicker and most in shape offensive linemen. This system definitely suits those strengths."

RT George Fant, another player in his second season with the Jets, could also benefit in a system like this where he can use his versatility. Fant, who was a team captain in 2020, also played basketball in college.

LT Mekhi Becton is another player to watch. He had an impressive rookie season in 2020, quickly emerging as a franchise cornerstone. He should be more polished in 2021 and could become one of the league's best young tackles.

Key Question

Who will line up Week 1 as the team's starting five? The Jets have a lot of versatile players and you'd pencil in Mekhi Becton at LT, Connor McGovern at C and Morgan Moses at RT, which leaves the guards. Greg Van Roten could start again at RG and at LG; a lot of analysts think Vera-Tucker will line up next to Becton.

"Being able to play alongside Mekhi, you have two physical players on the same side," AVT said during a recent visit to the Jets Atlantic Health Training Center in Florham Park, NJ. "At the same time, I'll play wherever they need me -- left guard, left tackle, right tackle -- wherever they need me I'll come in and play. At same time it really doesn't matter to me."

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