This is a rather solid NFL Draft for offensive linemen. That is very good news for the New York Jets who should be able to get a quality starter at offensive tackle if that is the direction they want to go in the first round.
The Jets have spent the offseason going hard to upgrade the offensive line. In his first full offseason with the team, general manager Joe Douglas has rebuilt a unit that was among the worst in the NFL a season ago, but despite the five signings to the line, there is still missing a starting caliber left tackle.
And if the Jets are serious about protecting franchise quarterback Sam Darnold, then upgrading the offensive line likely needs to continue in the NFL Draft.
By the time the Jets pick at No. 11, it is very likely that the consensus top two left tackles (Louisville’s Mekhi Becton and Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs) will be off the draft board. There is also a good possibility that Georgia left tackle Andrew Thomas could be selected as well.
Which brings the Jets to the intriguing Jedrick Wills, a multi-year starter at Alabama.
SI’s Big Board: Wills comes in at No. 7
The lowdown on Wills: An argument can be made that Wills could come off the board in the top 10 picks and that a player like Thomas falls to the Jets at No. 11, such is the interchangeability of the next tier of offensive tackles after Betcon and Wirfs. The Jets could be happy with either player.
Or all four of the aforementioned tackles could be taken. It is such an unusual draft in that regard.
Wills has a good pedigree, playing and starting the past two seasons at Alabama while earning All-SEC honors. He is a good technique blocker and moves well (he showed that on film as well as with a 5.05 time in the 40 at the NFL Combine).
Not the biggest of tackles (‘just’ 6-foot-4-inches) Wills is a good pass protector and solid in his run blocking. He has tremendous footwork. There is a lot to like about his game and he should transition relatively well to the NFL.
He’s combative and strong with good hips. He also doesn't carry a lot of bad weight, allowing him to move down the field well. He gets into the second-level nicely.
Where he fits with the Jets: Here is the problem or rather the issue with Wills. He’s a great right tackle, having proven that at Alabama. But the Jets need a left tackle in the worst way.
Can Wills make that transition? He probably can, given his skill set and work ethic. But there is still a risk here. In his first draft as the Jets general manager, Douglas can’t take a huge risk on a player who excelled at right tackle but never won the coveted blindside job in college.
Wills could be worth the gamble given how well he showed during workouts at the Combine. His game film at Alabama is impressive.
He has experience (29 starts including one start as a freshman) and has played for one of the top programs in the nation. If the Jets felt comfortable moving free agent George Fant, a blocking tight end they signed this offseason presumably to be their right tackle, then Wills could potentially start his NFL career on the right side.
It all represents a bit of a risk for the Jets and a draft choice that they can’t fudge.