After a promising rookie season from left tackle Mekhi Becton, and a strong campaign from right tackle George Fant, it's clear that Gang Green must improve at one position on their line: guard.
With excellent lineman prospects falling down on draft boards, the Jets can dramatically improve the protection around quarterback Zach Wilson in the second or third round without sacrificing other team needs. After all, the Jets’ offensive line ranked 29th in the NFL last season.
Here are three guards that the Jets should strongly consider taking in next week’s NFL draft in Cleveland:
Landon Dickerson, C/G, Alabama
A torn ACL in last year’s SEC Championship has had a major effect on Dickerson’s draft stock.
If not for the injury, he would likely be projected as a mid-first round pick. Dickerson was outstanding in his career in Tuscaloosa, moving from right guard to center in the middle of his junior season, a position he had never played before.
Dickerson did not miss a beat, earning second team all-SEC honors that season. He only got better his senior year, earning unanimous All-American and first team all-SEC honors, in addition to winning the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the best center in college football.
Dickerson is a tremendously versatile player, as demonstrated by his move to center. At Alabama, the North Carolina native played every position on the line. Dickerson is a guard by trade, so he can return to the position he is most comfortable with for the Jets.
New York can look to select Dickerson with their second-round pick. If they do, they'll be lucky to have him.
Quinn Meinerz, G, Wisconsin-Whitewater
I had Meinerz slotted as a Jets third-round pick in a previous mock draft of mine. If New York chooses to go in a different direction in the second round, addressing another position, Meinerz would be an excellent option to fill their need at guard.
There are uncertainties surrounding the 320-pounder. As a Division-III prospect, experts question the level of competition Meinerz has faced; Wisconsin-Whitewater also did not play last year due to COVID-19. However, Meinerz has all the physical tools to be an excellent lineman.
He was outstanding at Senior Bowl events in January, dominating tough competition despite the long layoff. According to Pro Football Focus, Meinerz won 58% of his opportunities in one-on-one situations. Mel Kiper Jr. has the Hartford, Wisconsin native going one pick before the Jets in the third round to the Jaguars, with the Jets taking Clemson lineman Jack Carman.
It is entirely feasible that Meinerz will fall to Gang Green. As a prospect with lots of experience at guard, he is an excellent fit.
Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State
Like Dickerson, Davis’ injury history is giving draft analysts pause. He struggled with knee injuries last season as a member of the Buckeyes. Yet, Davis’ talent is undeniable.
In 2019, the Southern California product was superb. Not only was he named first-team All-Big Ten and first-team All American, but Davis also was selected as a member of the 2010s All-Decade team by the Big Ten Network.
Despite struggling with injuries last year, the 22-year-old still secured unanimous All-American status. Davis has proven his excellence in pass protection, a key trait for Jets as they prepare to welcome in a rookie quarterback.
The Jets should have the opportunity to select Davis with their later third round pick, and Todd McShay has them doing just that. A third-round pick with the potential to be a top lineman in the draft, Davis would be a no-brainer selection for New York.
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