Camp Countdown '08: Offensive Line
There looks to be little drama in determining who will start for the team come week 1. Nick Mangold, Alan Faneca, and D’Brickashaw Ferguson are all locked in to their starting positions and Damien Woody will start at one of the two positions on the right side of the line. Faneca was the Jets prize offseason acquisition to solidify the left side of the line and hopefully make life easier for the still learning Ferguson. If Ferguson, who plays borderline excellent at times, doesn't become more consistent this year the team is going to start to hear whispers about his selection in the 2006 draft. Woody may be the most important Jets lineman this season as the team invested a lot of money in him these next three years even though he lost his starting job as guard in Detroit before finding a new position at right tackle. If he plays like he did as a guard the right side of the line will be lost. Brandon Moore would need an awful camp to lose his job. He’s a capable player that has done well in the middle of superior players in the past, but can look lost when surrounded by mediocre talent, which is another reason why Woody needs to play well for the Jets to be a success. Moore is essentially playing for a big contract in 2009(5 million in guaranteed money), so the team knows they are getting the best he can possibly give in 2008. If his best is not very good and one of the youngsters steps up he could find his way to the bench.
In what has been a problem going back to the 2005 season, the depth of the line looks to be an issue. Jacob Bender, Stanley Daniels, Wayne Hunter, Clint Oldenburg, and Robert Turner have a grand total of 9 games of experience amongst them. In the limited action some of them saw last season the results were not good, but only Hunter had more than 1 year of experience so the Jets will hope than the young players made large strides in the offseason. They will be joined in camp by Will Montgomery, who has 6 starts in a 2 year career, and the Jets 2008 7th round draft pick Nate Garner.
The Jets have carried 8 offensive linemen out of camp these last two seasons and that looks to be a trend that will continue with the team moving players on and off the practice squad if they need more help. The Jets like versatility in their backups and the ability to play more than one position will go a long way towards getting a job with the team. Montgomery would look to have be a safe bet to make the team in September. He is the only player on the bench that could play center in the event Mangold got hurt. Woody can play center in a pinch, but that would shift the entire line around which is always a hard in-season adjustment for the team. Hunter, a former 3rd round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, has been a disappointment in the NFL while Daniels couldn’t make it out of August with the Jets last season and both look to be on the outside looking in.
Oldenburg and Turner were both signed to the active roster late in the season and did remain on the practice squad for most of the year prior to that. The little bit of game action they saw was not promising, but the team liked them enough to give them a chance to make the team again in 2008. If the Jets carry 9 linemen one of these two would be the likely 9th player. Bender was drafted in 2007 and looked to be in over his head when Coach Mangini tried to force him into the starting lineup in the preseason. Bender is making a transition to guard, but can also play tackle. He is an intriguing prospect that should make the team. Garner would probably have the inside track on a position due to his draft status. He has a big body and could possibly play both spots on the right side of the line, though most project him to be a guard in the NFL. With the lack of depth the Jets will probably be very active addressing the line and making the 53 man roster as an offensive linemen might not mean being on that roster for more than a day or two.