New York Jets: 2018 is the perfect year to go center shopping

NFL Draft Insider Connor Rogers of Bleacher Report says teams shouldn’t worry if they have a hole at the center position this offseason. That’s music to New York Jets fans ears.

Does anyone else have a picture of former New York Jets star Nick Mangold on their wall and slowly brush your hand across it before you go to bed every night?

No? Just me? Oh, okay then.

Ever since the Jets released Mangold, the team has been in a desperate search to find his replacement. Let’s just address the elephant in the room folks: Wesley Johnson is not a starting center in the NFL. Maybe he can find a home with the new XFL when it debuts in 2020.

Johnson had his chance last season and was über underwhelming. So much so that I was curled up in the fetal position no less than 32 and a half times during the season.

But alas, Bleacher Report’s NFL Draft Insider, Connor Rogers, says that’s no problem because if this is the year you need a center, you’re in luck.

“If you need a center, this is kind of the year. It’s crazy how many good centers are in free agency. Even with Corey Linsley coming off the market and re-signing with the Green Bay Packers. There’s a slew of options: you’ve got Spencer Long in Washington, Ryan Jensen in Baltimore, and Weston Richburg with the Giants. All three of these guys will be free agents. They’re unlikely to reach deals with their respective teams.”

“Now shifting our eyes to the 2018 NFL Draft. This is where things get even better. Frank Ragnow, who had a season-ending ankle injury from Arkansas, is a top-15 player in this draft. If you go back and look at the tape this guy is lights out. He’s big, he’s powerful, and he can get to the second level and open up the run game. I think he’s going to go in the first round when everything is said and done. People forget about him because of the major injury he suffered this season, but if his workouts go fine, he’s a lock to go in the first round. I would even say that he’s a lock to be a 5-10 year Pro Bowl kind of player, he’s that good.”

But wait, there’s more!

“Now looking behind him, Billy Price from Ohio State is another guy who is a lock for the top-40. He’s probably a little bit more athletic, but a little bit smaller. So it depends on what kind of player you’re looking for. Then behind those two, you’ve got some more guys behind them: Mason Cole who was down here at the Senior Bowl out of Michigan, he’ll go in the mid-rounds. It’s going to be very interesting. If you need a center this year at least you have plenty of options to fill the spot”

To hear the rest of his interview on Bud and the Manchild, you can listen to it below via the Power Lunch Podcast!

While there may be plenty of options, there will also be plenty of teams interested. Including the Buffalo Bills, who just found out the devastating news that former Pro Bowl center Eric Wood’s career is over after doctors discovered a complicated neck issue that can’t be corrected.

As we mentioned earlier, the Jets had their own injury issues with their former Pro Bowler, Mangold. He had been one of the sturdiest pieces of the Jets line since entering the league back in 2006, but a rash of injuries ended his NFL career.

After the Jets cut Mangold it really ended a true era on 1 Jets Drive. After drafting two pillars in the first round back in 2006— D’Brickashaw Ferguson (fourth overall) and Mangold (29th overall), they didn’t try that strategy again, focusing more on the defensive side of the ball.

The Jets drafted two perennial All-Pros and they lasted as long as you could’ve hoped, but the problem was the Jets didn’t plan for the future. They took Mangold and Ferguson’s health for granted and it has cost them over the last several years.

Don’t feel bad for the Jets, they did it to themselves. In fact, they’ve only drafted seven offensive linemen over the past eight years. Fun fact, the Jets haven’t drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since the twin pillars in 2006. That’s a problem.

It’s unlikely to happen in 2018 due to the value of their pick (sixth overall) unless they trade back into the bottom-half of the first round.

Not only must the Jets try to find solutions at quarterback, but they must also figure out who the heck will be snapping him the ball in 2018. This should be a fun offseason.

 NEXT: New York Jets: Rick Dennison expected to join coaching staff (Report)