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The real reason the Jets need to start drafting and developing offensive linemen

NFL: New York Jets at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It is easy to get caught up thinking about only the short term. It is nothing to feel bad about. Even people who run NFL teams fall into that trap from time to time.

Throughout the offseason, many fans have focused on the Jets’ offensive line situation. The team has a young quarterback, and protecting him in 2019 should be a priority.

The trade for Kelechi Osemele was an encouraging development on that front. Neglecting the center position in free agency was not.

But Osemele is a short term fix, and a free agent center would have been as well. The Jets’ offensive line has a pressing long-term issue we seldom discuss. That issue is a lack of youth.

Last year SB Nation’s Blogging the Boys compiled the average age of every starting offensive line in the NFL. The Jets were older than the average unit with an age of 28.1 years old.

Things are not moving in the right direction for the team. Naturally, the returning starters are all a year older.

By the time the season starts, the average age of the offensive line will be 28.6 years old. (This factors in the fact four of the five current projected starters for the Jets have birthdays before Week 1, Kelvin Beachum, Kelechi Osemele, Jonotthan Harrsion, and Brian Winters.) That would likely be knocking on the door of the top five oldest lines in the NFL.

This also isn’t a case where a couple of really old guys are distorting the overall average. Brandon Shell is the youngest projected starter up front for the Jets. You might think a guy still on his rookie deal is young, but you have to remember that Shell was already 24 at the time he was drafted. Although he is only entering his fourth season in the NFL, he is 27 years old. So the youngest player on this line is already approaching the back nine of his career.

It is an issue for the short run. The current group does not project to be a very good unit, and performance tends to decline as players approach and pass the age of 30.

But it is a more pressing in the long run. With a collective group this old, most of the pieces will need to be replaced sooner rather than later.

It probably would not be a good idea to wait.