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The Jets Country Training Camp Countdown, a series of nine questions, runs from July 10 through 18, counting down the days until rookies and veterans report to the New York Jets' facility on July 19.

An offense can only achieve so much without an effective front five. 

With a four-time NFL MVP to protect, the New York Jets will hold a training camp competition in an attempt to identify the most-potent offensive line configuration and subsequently provide time for the unit to build cohesion prior to the 2023 regular season opener.

"We’re going to play our best five," said Jets' third-year head coach Robert Saleh in early May. 

How will the pieces fit across the starting five and how quickly will they develop the right chemistry?

There appears to be some certainty as to which two guards are best suited for starting roles.

"You can assume AVT [Alijah Vera-Tucker] is the best right guard and Laken and our center and both tackles, so it’s going to be a cool competition," said Saleh during OTAs.

Vera-Tucker, a 2021 first-round draft choice, started 16 games as a rookie left guard, but flipped to the right side to accommodate the signing of veteran free agent Laken Tomlinson in 2022. 

"I feel like right now, I'm just taking reps at guard in OTAs. Like I said, anything can change. We saw that last year," said Vera-Tucker.

The versatile Vera-Tucker was active during voluntary springtime practices after recovering from a pectoral injury that ended his season in Week 7 last fall.

Saleh sounds as if the team intends to dedicate Vera-Tucker's talent to an interior position.

"We think he’s an All-Pro caliber right guard, and I think he can be a heck of a tackle too, but he is an elite guard. Somewhere where we would love to keep him," said Saleh at the NFL Meetings in late March.

Meanwhile, the Jets kept Tomlinson at left guard for the duration of his first season with the team. On the field for every offensive snap in 2022, his performance elicited mixed reviews over the 17-game schedule. Tomlinson, a staple of availability, hasn't missed a start in the past five years dating back to his time with the San Francisco 49ers.

As was the case for the 2022 opener, Tomlinson (left) and Vera-Tucker (right) will likely occupy the guard spots amongst the "best five." 

Free-agent addition Wes Schweitzer can provide starter level ability as a fill-in when needed.

As for the center spot, reliable veteran Connor McGovern is back with Gang Green on a one-year deal, but he'll have to hold off highly-rated rookie Joe Tippmann for the starting job. 

"You guys know how we are, everyone’s competing," said Saleh after the Jets selected the 6-foot-6 Tippmann with the No. 43 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. "Doesn’t matter where you get drafted, doesn’t matter what you get paid, you’re coming in to compete to begin with, so it’s going to be an open competition."

McGovern started all 17 games in 2022. No Jet has logged more offensive snaps over the past three seasons than the 30-year-old center (3,055).

Tippmann was the first center drafted in 2023 after spending the last two years as Wisconsin's starter. Scouts labeled the Big Ten Conference product as a plug-and-play prospect, but handling all that the center position entails can be a challenging task for a rookie.

"There’s a lot of experience around him, and in that room when you talk about Connor," said Saleh. "Connor’s played a lot of football in this League and he’s going to be an asset also for the young kid to be able to lean on and learn off of."

If the Jets were to place Tippmann in an understudy role at center, the athletic rookie has the ability to provide insurance at guard, too.

"His athleticism, he can provide a lot of versatility to our interior which has been a hallmark of our interior," said general manager Joe Douglas during the NFL Draft. "Just fired up to have him."

Projected Starting Five

LT Duane Brown

LG Laken Tomlinson

C Connor McGovern

RG Alijah Vera-Tucker

RT Mekhi Becton

There appears to be less certainty surrounding the Jets' group of offensive tackles.

Veteran Duane Brown, who turns 38 years old next month, played 12 games despite nursing a torn rotator cuff last year. The long-time NFL left tackle enters the second half of the two-year free-agent deal he signed last summer.

"He didn’t have to subject his body to what he did, but he stepped on the field, played as many games as he possibly could with torn rotator cuffs and did a really nice job," said Saleh.

When back at full strength, Brown projects to start as Aaron Rodgers's blindside protector.

Mekhi Becton, once viewed as a franchise player, sees himself as a left tackle, but he'll likely battle for right tackle reps as long as Brown is healthy.

Becton, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, hasn't appeared in a regular season game since the 2021 opener. After right knee problems have sidelined him for two years, the 6-foot-7 behemoth has lost weight and appears ready to earn a spot up front.

"He’s attacking this offseason the right way and I’m excited for him," said Saleh during OTAs.

Becton, however, will face stiff competition moving forward.

"I think Max Mitchell has something to say about it. I think the young kid Carter Warren that we drafted, and Billy Turner," said Saleh. "We have a lot of really good tackles right now that are competing to be one of the two tackles that are on the football field. So, it’ll be a good, healthy competition and those who attack it with the right mindset will end up reaping the benefits."

Mitchell, a fourth-round draft selection, made five starts as a rookie in what was an injury-plagued 2022 campaign. 

Turner, however, could be the most serious threat when it comes to Becton's starting aspirations. The 10th-year pro made 43 starts for the Green Bay Packers with Nathaniel Hackett as the offensive coordinator. 

Regardless of which players wind up landing spots in the starting five, the Week 1 combination will undoubtedly look different than last year's lineup.

With Brown and Becton unavailable at the start of the 2022 campaign, George Fant was the Opening Day starter at left tackle and Mitchell manned the right side. Helping fill a void for the injury-riddled unit, Vera-Tucker flipped from right guard to left tackle at one point. 

The hope for 2023 is that the Jets can find a consistent quintet that remains intact during the regular season.

"That o-line, you want it to gel," said Saleh. "In a perfect world, the same five play 17 games and then you’re rolling."

Offensive Line — 16

Tackles: Mekhi Becton (77), Duane Brown (76), Max Mitchell (61), Billy Turner (54), Carter Warren (67), Greg Senat (64), Yodny Cajuste (70) 

Laken Tomlinson (78), Alijah Vera Tucker (75), Wes Schweitzer (71), Adam Pankey (62), Trystan Colon (65), Brent Laing (63), Chris Glaser (64) 

Connor McGovern (60), Joe Tippmann (66), Wes Schweitzer (71)


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