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What are fair expectations for Jets second round pick Joe Tippmann?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 24 Wisconsin at Ohio State Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Figuring out fair expectations for recently drafted players isn’t easy. As I have discussed in the past, perception does not always match reality when we discuss the value of Draft picks.

How good can we reasonably expect a center picked 43rd overall to be? To get the answer I decided to take a look at every center drafted between 28 and 58 since the year 2000. That provides us with a +/- of 15 picks from where Tippmann was chosen.

Let’s be honest. It isn’t easy to judge quality at the position. There just aren’t many statistics at this point in time that tell you how good a center is. NFL analysts are getting smarter and producing more analytics than ever. Two decades from now, it might be a different story. For now, however, we don’t have much to utilize.

There was something that stuck out to me when analyzing this group, however.

Of the 16 players from this group, 11 of them spent at least 4 seasons as a starter in the NFL. Furthermore, Elgton Jenkins will make that 12 this year.

Why is this significant? If you last 4 years as a starter, it likely says something about your quality as a player. As we all know, the caliber of starters can vary wildly. However, if a team wants you to start 4 seasons it is likely that you at least are a decent player. Otherwise you would be replaced. We all know that bad offensive linemen are usually among the first to go when a team is looking to upgrade its roster.

I think this might speak to something deeper. Let’s be honest. There’s a lot of groupthink in NFL front offices. Self-reflection is rare. Teams follow the conventional wisdom.

In some areas the conventional wisdom is right. In others it is wrong.

There are positions the league is quite poor in evaluating. Center seems like a spot where the league does a pretty solid job. Three quarters of the players drafted in Tippmann’s range lasted at least 4 seasons as a starter. Yes, there are players like Jenkins who moved away from center. Still, finding a good player at any spot on the offensive line should be considered a win in the (late first to) second round.

Additionally 6 of the 16 players picked in this range made at least one Pro Bowl during their career. It will likely come as no surprise to you that Nick Mangold’s 7 leads the pack.

Can an immediate contribution be expected? Tippmann will likely battle Connor McGovern in training camp for the starting center job. While many of the teams that pick a center early do not have a competent incumbent starter, it seems worth noting that 12 of the 16 players on our list started at least half the season as rookies. That tells us it isn’t unusual to find a plug and play talent where the Jets picked Tippmann.

So while expectations for rookies can be too high, I don’t think it’s unreasonable here to think the odds are high the Jets have picked a good player who could very well make an immediate impact.