MOBILE, Ala. — The Jets’ quest to rebuild their offensive line has begun at the college All-Star games with general manager Joe Douglas and his staff getting a look at some of the prospects in this year’s draft.
This week at the Senior Bowl, the Jets have been evaluating players from every position but there is no doubt what their top priority is. Douglas needs to rebuild a line that was a major weakness in 2018. The Jets could have as many as four new starters on the line in 2020. Some of those will arrive via free agency, but others will be drafted.
Here is a look at a few of the offensive line prospects at the Senior Bowl the Jets could select in April.
Matt Hennessy | Center, Temple
If the name is familiar to Jets fans, that is because his brother Thomas is the team’s long snapper. Could the Jets have two snapping Hennessys on the roster?
Hennessy left Temple after his junior season — in which he was named third-team All-American and was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top center. He is allowed to compete in the Senior Bowl because he has already received his degree.
He has a simple goal for this week here: “Proving I’m the best center in the draft class.”
The Jets are looking for high-character players, and Hennessy fits the mold. He grew up in Rockland County and played high school football at Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey. Could the Jets team him up with his older brother?
“I know he would be really fired up about it. He’s really excited about that possibility,” Matt said. “It would be awesome. I’ve never played with him.”
Lloyd Cushenberry | Center, LSU
At LSU, they give out jersey No. 18 to special players who embody a selfless attitude. The national champion Tigers gave the number to Cushenberry this year. He was not permitted to wear it in games because of his position, but wore it in practice.
If you’re looking for intelligence and character, Cushenberry fits the bill. He is an impressive player to speak to and has turned heads in practices this week. Teams are also impressed that he decided to come here and compete one week after playing in the national championship game and all that comes with it, including a trip to the White House.
“I feel like I bring accountability,” Cushenberry said. “I feel like I’m going to do the right things off the field and on the field. I’m a low-maintenance guy. I don’t get into a lot of trouble.”
Josh Jones | Tackle, Houston
Jones is easy to spot at 6-foot-7, 310 pounds. He is athletic and nimble even at that size. His strength is his pass-blocking ability. He allowed just 18 pressures in 1,282 pass-blocking snaps over three years at Houston.
“I just get the job done, man,” Jones said. “This year I think I let up about four pressures, a half a sack. I’m dominant at it. I take pride in it. If I give up a pressure or am even close to allowing a sack, I’m kicking myself in the butt. It’s just pride, man.”
Ben Bartch | Tackle, St. John’s (Minn.)
Bartch is the only Division III player here, and he looks like he belongs. A former tight end, Bartch gained 70 pounds to move inside to tackle. This is a critical game for small-school players to show that they can compete with the players from the bigger conferences. Bartch has done that against SEC defensive linemen this week and could rise on draft boards.
Matt Peart | Tackle, UConn
Teams have been impressed with Peart’s quickness and explosion off the ball. He is 6-foot-7 and 303 pounds with long arms that teams look for. He started all 48 games in his career at UConn and was one of the Huskies’ few bright spots last year.
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