Jets draft preview: Offensive line

April, 20, 2012
4/20/12
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This is the fifth part in a nine-part, position-by-position breakdown, analyzing needs and draft possibilities:

Position: Offensive line

Depth chart: LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, LG Matt Slauson, C Nick Mangold, RG Brandon Moore, RT Wayne Hunter, T/G Vladimir Ducasse, G Caleb Schlauderaff, OT Austin Howard, OT Dennis Landolt, G Trevor Canfield, C Kris O'Dowd.

Not under contract: N/A

Scouting report: Surprisingly, the Jets haven't made any moves in the offseason to shore up their once-formidable line. (Last time I checked, Tim Tebow doesn't play O-line.) Hunter was on the bubble, but his $2.45 million salary became guaranteed in February, improving his chances of sticking in 2012. Clearly, he was the weak link, allowing 8.5 sacks and 11 penalties. The Jets say he's the starter at right tackle (for now), but he's simply holding the fort until someone better comes along -- and that may not take long. It's now or never for former second-round pick Ducasse, who will get a chance to compete at right tackle. Slauson (shoulder surgery) and Moore, who made the Pro Bowl as an alternate, are entering the final year of their contracts. That creates a need at guard.

Pro Bowlers Mangold and Ferguson are locked into mega contracts, so they're not going anywhere. Ferguson (9.5 sacks) needs to step it up after a slight decline last season. GM Mike Tannenbaum knows he did a terrible job of building depth last season, so you know he'll be carrying that thought into the draft.

The last time: How quickly we forget. In 2010, the Jets drafted Ducasse in the second round (61st overall). He failed at two positions, left guard and right tackle.

Potential targets: They need to own up to the Ducasse mistake and find a right tackle that can contribute immediately. It would be an upset if they pick a right tackle in the first round, but that's okay because there are plenty of second- and third-round options -- Bobbie Massie (Ole Miss), Mitchell Schwartz (Cal), Mike Adams (Ohio State) and Kelechi Osemele (Iowa State). All four players project as right tackles in the NFL. The Jets brought Massie in for a visit; some teams are divided on his potential. A fifth- or sixth-round possibility is OT Jeff Adams (Columbia), who has drawn considerable attention from Jets scouts. Things will get interesting in the first round if G David DeCastro (Stanford), regarded by some as the best guard prospect in a decade, slips to 16. Then we'll find out if the Jets are picking for need or best available player. The last true guard to go that high was Shawn Andrews (Eagles, 16th, 2004).

Need Rating (on a scale of 1 to 10): Tackle -- 7; guard -- 4.

Next: Special teams

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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