I don’t think it’s a secret that the Jets need to improve the interior of their offensive line. The offensive line as a whole last year was a bit of a disaster, despite Joe Douglas forking out a fair bit of money in the off-season to try and fix it.
There is reason for optimism however, the new system of Mike LaFleur will move the team to more of a zone running/blocking scheme which should help the likes of Connor McGovern. McGovern had one of his best years in 2019 playing for Rich Scangarello, who came from the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree, that year Connor allowed just one sack and had a 2.4% pressure allowed percentage. A system that relies on athleticism should also help George Fant more at RT.
However inside, there’s a lot more work to do. Pat Elflein is gone, Alex Lewis and Greg Van Roten were disappointments and Cameron Clark didn’t see the field. I can’t imagine anyone is confident going into the season with those guys and the signing of Dan Feeney hasn’t really changed a thing.
I fully expect us to try and hit on one of the best lineman in the draft. If we’re fortunate enough that Alijah Vera-Tucker falls to #23 then you run that pick in, but chances are he’ll be gone. So you could opt for someone like Creed Humphrey and kick McGovern to guard, I wouldn’t be unhappy with that and it would make some sense. Regardless of what we do at the top of the draft, there is a prospect that I feel we absolutely have to target in the middle rounds, and that’s Illinois guard Kendrick Green.
Kendrick Green is a 6’4, 315lb three year starter from Illinois, he elected to go to Illinois over 15 other scholarship overs to stay in his home county and is largely considered a 3rd-4th round prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft, I’ve seen him as high as early as a 2nd round pick and no later than a middle 4th. He split his time between center and left guard, and I think he could play either at the next level, but as he spent the majority of his time at guard, that’s where I’m projecting him.
When he came out of high school, he actually came out as a defensive tackle prospect after putting up 111 tackles, 33 tackles for a loss and 15 sacks. He had played on both sides of the ball in high school, as well as being a member of the baseball and wrestling teams.
So first lets talk stats. He improved his overall grade in college each and every year, ending 2020 with a 87.8 grade. In over 500 snaps he allowed 0 sacks, 2 hits and 4 hurries all season. He’s allowed 4 sacks, 7 hits and 29 hurries over his three years as a starter for the Fighting Illini. Last year he graded out at 93.6 when playing zone and at 88.5 in the running game, and you’ll see why soon.
I watch quite a lot of Big 10 football so I was aware of Kendrick Green throughout the season and the stats backed up exactly what I saw on tape. That’s the first tick in any evaluation, does the eye test match the statistical breakdown?
So what does he do well? First of all, his get-off is elite, I mean he explodes out of his stance and he gets on defenders in a hurry. Before they can see the ball carrier, Green is on them and moving them out of the way. He looks for work in traffic, if he puts his first defender on his backside then he’ll move onto the next, he’s a busy blocker with an outstanding motor, he doesn’t take any plays off.
Get Kendrick Green in a zone scheme, preferably at center. Please and thank you. pic.twitter.com/jubr3wZRVP— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) April 12, 2021
Kendrick Green = twitched up w/excellent center of gravity & core strength at 6'2" 305. Dude is a ball of lighting with an iron head to jolt/stun defenders at the point & strong hands to latch/control. Former super HS athlete & high level wrestling background shows up on tape. pic.twitter.com/sFlRMa8DSP— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) April 10, 2021
I hope you can see in the above clips why I’m so high on Green in our system. He’s a rangy explosive athlete with good bend, excels with his reach blocks and moves to the 2nd level with ease. He also showcases strong hands in 2020 and once he has you he’s very hard to disengage from.
He’s also an absolute work horse, he squatted 700lb’s and lived in the weight room at Illinois. He’s maintained his health and has started 33 straight games in college, and people say the best ability is availability, and he’s always available. At his pro-day he ran the forty in 4.83 seconds, put 25 reps on the bench and jumped 35.5” on the vertical and 9 feet 11 on the broad jump, it’s safe to say he’s an excellent athlete.
I would take him in the 3rd round, I’d even move up to the late 2nd if we thought he wouldn’t fall. He’s a high character, high work ethic guy that Saleh would love and he’s perfect for the scheme we’re implementing, sign me up for Kendrick Green.