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Can Jets Find 2 Starting Guards in NFL Draft?

With the New York Jets needing to identify two starting guards this offseason, general manager Joe Douglas likely has eyes on Connor Beebe and Tanor Bortolini at this week's NFL Combine.

The two men starting at offensive guard for the 2024 New York Jets may not even be on the roster yet.

While the release of veteran Laken Tomlinson, who made 34 straight starts for Gang Green, opened up the starting left guard spot earlier this week, the Jets were already lacking stability at right guard. New York deployed seven different starting right guards, including four Practice Squad players, over the course of the 2023 season.

Joe Tippmann and Alijah Vera-Tucker both performed adequately while manning the right guard spot for abbreviated stints, but neither projects to have a long-term future there.

Moving back to the position he was drafted as, Tippmann started nine straight games as the Jets' center after veteran Connor McGovern was lost to a season-ending injury. With Tippmann having stabilized one of the most-demanding positions on offense, New York will likely keep its 2023 second-round draft pick as the starting center.

Vera-Tucker was the opening day starting right guard before kicking outside to tackle in Week 3 and subsequently suffering a season-ending Achilles tear two weeks later. It's unknown if the Jets can count on their 2021 first-round pick to be ready for Week 1 after a second serious injury in as many years.

It all leads to the Jets likely adding two starting guards this offseason. Miami's Robert Hunt and Baltimore's Kevin Zeitler are two free agent options to explore, but the Jets could attempt to find another Tippmann in the draft.

Wisconsin's Tanor Bortolini and Kansas State's Cooper Beebe are two names that deserve a serious look from Jets' general manager Joe Douglas this week at the NFL Combine

iOL Tanor Bortolini

Tippmann's former college teammate, Bortolini took over the starting center role for the 2023 Badgers but has plenty of experience at guard. The versatile Big Ten Conference All-Academic selection possess a trait highly valued by Douglas and Co. In 2022, Bortolini made six starts at left guard, two at right guard, one at center and one at tight end.

Beebe is arguably the top offensive guard prospect from this draft class after making 48 starts over the past four seasons for Kansas State. The consensus All-America First Team honoree ended his collegiate career by winning the Big 12 Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year Award in back-to-back seasons.