Jets Name Fant Left Tackle
Camp is here, there is football on the field. Let’s just get straight into it today and our quick throws have transformed into practice snippets.
One day after the Jets activated Carl Lawson, CJ Uzomah, and Mekhi Becton from the PUP list, they activated George Fant. That means that both tackles are now active, let the battle commence.
Interestingly, as the first session started Mekhi Becton was at right tackle and Chuma Edoga was at left tackle. The fact that Edoga was at left isn’t noteworthy as Fant was just activated, but the fact they chose to start Becton on the right is interesting. Then when Fant could join, he went to the left and Becton stayed on the right.
One receiver was making plays on day two of camp…and that’s Denzel Mims. According to reporters who were present, Mims flashed in the sessions and made multiple notable catches high pointing the ball and beating zone coverage for fun. This is a huge year for Mims and he’s in the best shape of his pro career, it’ll be interesting to monitor him this summer.
You know that we love a little kicking competition here, and on day one both Greg Zuerlein and Eddy Piniero were 4-4, small sample size I know, but I’d rather they were both 100% than 50%, and I’m going to be keeping an eye on this over the summer. I had the kicking style of Piniero, but it’s not a beauty contest, if it gets the job done then we should all be happy.
According to reporters, present Zach Wilson had a good practice, showing touch and confidence. He did get picked off in the red zone towards the end of practice by new Jets corner DJ Reed. I still consider Reed to be one of the more underrated signings of the off-season, I’m excited to see that Reed/Sauce combination.
I’m going to start introducing this segment into the newsletter as we progress through the off-season. Most of the things we react to come from coach Saleh.
There is no left tackle competition. Saleh confirmed that Mekhi Becton is the right tackle and George Fant is the left tackle.
This makes so much sense and I love that Saleh has made this decision from day one. Yes, they could have rotated both players throughout the summer, giving them an equal shot at left tackle but in reality, the best thing for the Jets is to build chemistry on that line. You build chemistry by knowing your roles and sticking to them, you build chemistry with reps and communication.
Saleh confirmed that Becton’s days at left tackle aren’t over, but for this year at least that position is Fant’s. He said that Fant was more comfortable at left tackle which is evidenced by him having a career year there in 2021. Becton next to AVT is an exciting prospect for the Jets, especially for Breece Hall and Michael Carter who will have running lanes a-plenty on the right side. Saleh went so far as to say he believes that both AVT and Becton have All-Pro potential.
Becton said he didn’t care where he played as long as he was on the field, which is the exact kind of attitude you want to hear from your second-year player. Saleh also confirmed that Becton had been at the facility since minicamp working with the doctors and coaches to get him to where he needs to be.
I’m sure you don’t need a reminder of how good George Fant was last year, but I’m going to give you one anyway. He allowed 18 pressures all season including just the single sack. Those 18 pressures allowed ranked him 7th among all NFL tackles who played at least 500 snaps. Who wouldn’t want a guy like that protecting the QB’s blindside?
What this does do is potentially cost the Jets a little more money. Fant is currently set to play on the last year of his deal, with a cap hit of $11.1 million, that number is the 14th highest for left tackles in the NFL in 2022. The top paid left tackle in football Garett Bolles is set to make $21 million this year, and while I don’t think Fant will ask or get that kind of money, left tackles get paid more than right tackles and with Fant being named the left tackle, his asking price may have gone up by a million or two.
If the Jets and Fant can’t come to an agreement this year and can’t come to an agreement in the off-season they do have the option to franchise him. Obviously, that scenario is a long way off, but if Fant has a similar or better season this year to the one he had in 2021, the Jets won’t want to lose him for nothing. The projected franchise tag number for an offensive lineman next year is $17,887,000. Just worth remembering.
Klecko’s Hall Bid
How Joe Klecko is not in the hall of fame puzzles me every single day. He was close to being elected last year by the senior committee but fell at the final hurdle.
Yesterday we heard that he had made the cut for the 12 finalists for the class of 2023. On August 16th the committee will come together again to select a final three with Klecko expected to be among them.
Then in January, the 49-person membership will vote and if Klecko receives 80% of the vote he’ll be elected to the hall as a member of the class of 2023.
As one of the most dynamic and dominant players to ever line up on defense, Klecko deserves to be in the hall.
While with the Jets, Klecko transitioned from defensive end to defensive tackle and nose tackle. Klecko made the Pro Bowl at all three positions, was an All-Pro twice (1981, 1985), and even won AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1981.
Hall of Fame tackle Anthony Muñoz gave an interview to the New York Times a couple of years ago and gave a glowing review of Klecko and just how good he was as a player and just how hard he was to block.
"In my 13 seasons, Joe is right there at the top of the defensive ends I had to block, up there with Fred Dean, Lee Roy Selmon, and Bruce Smith. Joe was the strongest guy I ever faced. He had perfect technique — hands in tight, great leverage. My second year, 1981, we went to Shea and beat the Jets, 31-30, but he was such an intense, smart player, I knew I was in a battle. He was the leader, the guy who kept that unit together.”
It’s important to not get too excited about early camp performances, especially after one day. But, it’s fine to be encouraged and excited about a player, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Sometimes football is about momentum and right now Mims has a ton of it. It’s no secret that the 3rd year player has disappointed in his first two years after being drafted in the 2nd round out of Baylor, but it’s also no secret that he’s had his share of injuries and illnesses. 2022 represents the first off-season where he’s been able to fully participate.
He came into OTA’s in great shape and the coaching staff spot about his comfort level with the offense and his confidence in the meeting room. Now after one day of camp he’s had one day of excellent play. Momentum. He was the standout receiver from day one and that’s notable, it doesn’t mean he’s starting over Corey Davis but it does mean that he’s tracking in the right direction.
31 receptions for 490 yards and 0 touchdowns over the first two years, the only way is up.
According to Field Yates the Jets worked out cornerback Iman Marshall yesterday.
Corner doesn’t look to be a need for the Jets, but a couple of injuries in the wrong spot, and all of a sudden you’re scrambling for replacements. The Jets are set to have a strong front 6 in terms of cornerbacks with Sauce Gardner and DJ Reed joining Bryce Hall, Brandin Echols, Michael Carter II and Javelin Guidry, but you should always have contingency plans.
Iman was a 4th round pick of the Ravens out of USC back in 2019 but he found his way to injured reserve before he had the chance to show his ability. In 2020 he suffered a torn ACL in his right knee after falling awkwardly, which cost him his 2020 season, he suffered another ACL tear in 2021 which cost him his 3rd season and the Ravens waved him this July.
He’s played in a total of 5 defensive snaps, all of which came in 2019. It’s been a tough road for the former standout. A former five-star recruit and Under Armour All-American out of Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High School, he was rated as the No. 5 overall prospect and No. 1 cornerback in the country in the 2015 recruiting class.
The 6’1, 210lb corner finished his USC career with 5 interceptions and 23 pass breakups while allowing just a 56.1% completion into his coverage.
Here was his NFL scouting report for the 2019 draft:
“Physical four-year starter at cornerback who might need to prepare for a move to safety due to a lack of functional long speed and athleticism. Marshall's size and play strength made life challenging on Pac-12 receivers, but he lacks the foot quickness and technique to stay connected to more refined NFL targets. While he could be in consideration for Cover-2 defenses, his ability to cover tight ends and handle run-support duties make him a natural candidate for a transition to safety.”
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