I'm taking a little break from scouting reports today and instead looking back at the first year performance of our rookie class, starting with our 5th round pick Brandon Shell.
The Jets offensive line situation is pretty intriguing. We know that James Carpenter will start at left guard and Brian Winters will start at right guard. We think Nick Mangold will return at center, however with a contract that may be prohibitive to a team up against the cap, that isn't guaranteed. This leaves two holes to fill. Left tackle will be the main gap to fill with the Jets likely moving on from oft-injured Ryan Clady. The other is right tackle, where the Jets will surely move on from the disappointing Breno Giacomini.
Brandon Shell got his chance to start three games due to the injuries sustained by Breno Giacomini and back-up Brent Qvale. In all three games he showcases a high standard of play and was actually the highest graded Jet on the offensive side of the ball when the team played the Super Bowl champion Patriots. He was also rated as one of the best players against the Bills too. His feet looked better than advertised and his power and length enabled him to control the right side of the line.
Shell played the majority of his career on the right side for South Carolina, only moving over to the left side for his senior year in 2015. He made 47 consecutive starts for the Gamecocks and only really struggled when facing the top rushers in a difficult conference his senior year. We're talking guys like Myles Garrett who will likely be the #1 overall selection this year and Charles Harris who had 18.5 tackles for a loss the year Shell was playing left tackle.
Due to him being a 5th round selection, the Jets have him signed to a 4 year $2.91 million contract, which means he still has three years left. Compare than to Breno Giacomini's contract which calls for him to be paid $5.125 million this year and it's extremely likely that Shell will be the Jets starting right tackle. Not to mention that he largely outperformed Breno anyway.
It's important to remember that Shell only started three games, all divisional games towards the end of the year...so it's an incredibly small sample size. However it's hard not to be impressed by what we saw, and being the great nephew of Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Shell doesn't hurt either. Shell showed a nice combination of power and athleticism that make him a promising prospect for the cash-strapped Jets.