Should he stay or go: Austin Howard

Austin Howard has been a serviceable right tackle since becoming a full-time starter in 2012. He excels in run blocking; however his pass blocking abilities are limited. Signing Howard to a contract extension at a cheap price can benefit the running game, but there are viable options in free agency and the draft to fill the void.

Gang Green will remain in a rebuilding stage this offseason, as the front office will look to bolster the team's roster. The biggest need for improvement is on the offensive side of the ball, especially at the skills positions. The offensive line struggled all season as it could not give Geno Smith the proper protection, nor did it consistently drive back the defenders while rushing the ball.

The offensive line needs to get better and better fast, to ensure the safety of its young quarterback. Part of that is saying good-bye to familiar faces, in hopes to sign a marquee free-agent or to draft a younger and cheaper player. However, right tackle Austin Howard should remain in Green and White for another few years.

The four year veteran has been a serviceable right tackle, and he has only progressed. His ability to drive back defenders in the rushing attack has been displayed all season, and he is regarded as one of the best run blocking right tackles in the league. In the passing game, he struggles at times and he usually needs an extra blocker on his side to pick up a blitzing corner or pass rusher, which removes a potential target for the quarterback to throw to.

If Idzik chooses to save on a hefty pay-day for this run blocking tackle, he can find quality talent in free agency or in the draft. Players such as Eric Winston and Michael Oher are good, strong run blocking right tackles who also have decent pass blocking abilities. Since the Jets have plenty of money to work with, signing a proven veteran can benefit the offensive line if Howard does not re-sign.

As for the draft, top tackle prospect Jake Matthews has played both left and right tackle at a high level. He has exceptional pass blocking and run blocking abilities to go along with big frame. His quick feet and fast hands can beat defenders at the snap of the ball, while being agile enough to pick up speedy pass rushers coming off the edge.

Another prospect in this year's draft that can play right tackle is Antonio Richardson out of Tennessee. His large 6-foot-6 frame comes with a powerful punch off the line, along with a great driving ability in man-on-man blocking. He can play right tackle in the NFL, making the move from left tackle where he spent most of his time in college.


Jets Insider Top Stories