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Gang Green Nation looks toward future of OL with selection of T Ikem Ekwonu

It’s not the most pressing need on the Jets’ roster, but Gang Green Nation’s selection would absolutely make sense.

NC State v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Every year SB Nation holds a bloggers mock draft that allow those of us who run team sites to play the role of general manager.

The Jets hold two first-round picks this year. The first of these falls fourth overall. The first three picks were Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and Kyle Hamilton respectively.

I picked Ikem Ekwoku, a tackle from NC State, for the Jets.

I first want to note that I made this pick based on what I think Joe Douglas would do if he was in this situation, not what I would necessarily do.

As we know, Douglas values the offensive line highly. He has used first-round picks to bolster the line in both of his drafts with the Jets.

Looking at the team as currently constructed, you might wonder whether offensive line is worth an additional investment. The line is one of the stronger position groups on the Jets roster.

There are, however, underlying issues that make it a bigger priority than you might think. While Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker have been drafted in the last two years, the other three starters on the line will be 29 or older when the 2022 season begins. Two of the three will be entering the final season of their respective contracts.

George Fant is among these linemen. The soon-to-be 30-year-old Fant enters his contract year coming off his best NFL season. Can he replicate it? Even if he can, how much longer can he play at a high level? Will the Jets be able to re-sign him?

These questions alone make drafting another offensive lineman a viable approach, especially one who was as dominant in the run game as Ekwonu was at NC State. We haven’t even discussed the question marks around Becton who has missed 18 games due to injury across his first two seasons.

Ekwonu seems like a Joe Douglas type of lineman. He plays with power and has a nasty streak to his game. He also moves well enough and has the length to project to left tackle.

In an ideal world, the Jets would be able to use this pick to address the line on the other side of the ball, but based on the way things fell I would bet on Ekwonu being the pick here.

Best players remaining:

  • Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
  • Charles Cross, T, Mississippi State
  • Evan Neal, T, Alabama
  • Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
  • Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati