By William McInerney
One of the few additions the Jets made this offseason was signing Kelvin Beachum, the offensive tackle who last played with the Jaguars. When he first signed, it appeared he was going to be the starting left tackle. However, after a week of OTAs and the comments made by coaches, the plan now appears to be for him to play right tackle instead. This was surprising, but it may be the better move.
There’s no denying the tackles on the Jets were bad last year. They struggled with edge rushers all season, and had Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith and Bryce Petty all on the run at various points in the year. Had the Jets not signed Beachum, the starting tackles would probably be Ben Ijlana on the left side and Brandon Shell on the right.
Neither of them are particularly great tackles, but Ijlana showed more when he was healthy. He’s not an ideal left tackle, but he played better than Shell, who did not impress. He did more than you would expect from a fifth-round pick in their rookie year, but he didn’t convince he’s a starter in the NFL either.
While Ijlana wasn’t perfect last year, he has played next to Brian Winters before, which is good for a left tackle. Additionally, Beachum struggled last year for the Jaguars. While a lot of that probably had to do with the fact he was returning from a torn ACL, you can’t take that risk at left tackle when you’re going to (hopefully) play a young quarterback.
As surprising as it seemed for the Jets to not play Beachum at left tackle, it appears it may have been the right decision for the team to make.