The New York Jets 2016 season ended weeks ago for all practical purposes. The last few games have been meaningless other than for player evaluation and determining who should be on the team in 2017. As the season grinds to a close this Sunday the Jets are now starting a majority of players who were not starters when the season began. Some were not expected to ever take a snap this season. Among those is Brandon Shell, now the starting right tackle.
Brandon Shell is a 24 year old rookie, 6' 6", 325 pound behemoth out of the University of South Carolina. The Jets traded a 2017 4th round selection for a 2016 5th round selection in order to acquire Shell with the 158th overall pick of the 2016 NFL draft.
Brandon Shell spent most of the 2016 season buried on the offensive line depth chart. He was probably the team's 5th option at offensive tackle coming out of training camp, and was not expected to see action in 2016. However, injuries to starting tackles Ryan Clady and Breno Giacomini as well as center Nick Mangold and guard Brian Winters left the Jets extremely thin on the offensive line and paved the way for Shell to move into a starting position at right tackle. Two games into Shell's starting stint the early results have looked promising.
According to Pro Football Focus Shell has yet to yield a quarterback pressure. Shell has been getting a lot of help in his assignments, but after watching him founder terribly in preseason action it is nice to see his improvement.
Sunday presents the last chance until training camp for Jets players to impress the coaches and begin to earn a place on the 2017 Jets roster. After a terrible season like 2016 it is inevitable the roster will undergo a great deal of change. The 2016 starting tackles, Ryan Clady and Breno Giacomini, will both in all likelihood not be back. There are talent deficits up and down this Jets roster, and wholes aplenty to fill. If the Jets are to begin to field a competitive team in 2017 a number of the developmental players will need to take a big step forward and become starting material. Brandon Shell might be one of those players. If Shell can provide inexpensive, effective play at right tackle in 2017 that would be one less position to worry about this offseason.
The Jets need some good fortune. They need some young players to emerge. Brandon Shell in limited duty has begun to offer tantalizing hints he may be up to the challenge. This Sunday Shell gets his last chance of the 2016 season to state his case for a starting gig in 2017. Brandon Shell , this is your time in the spotlight. The stage is set, time for you to deliver the goods. Starting at offensive tackle in the NFL and protecting your quarterback against edge rushers intent on mayhem is no easy assignment. There is no better way to prove your worth to the Jets and perhaps earn a starting position in 2017 and beyond for a team without a lot of great options at tackle. Let's hope you shine bright and shut down the Bills' pass rushers on Sunday.