Back in February, and based on goodness knows what, Bill Barnwell of ESPN described Chuma Edoga as "the only guaranteed starter" of all the offensive linemen on the Jets' roster. Connor Hughes of the Athletic didn't go quite so far but he did say on a Bleacher Report podcast that the Jets like the 2019 third round pick as their right tackle of the future.
With Alex Lewis now re-signed, it seems likely that at least one of the Jets' guards will be a returning starter but he obviously wasn't on the roster at that time. And, if you had to draw up a depth chart based on the current roster, Edoga would be penciled in as a starter right now.
Of course, many believe the Jets will draft a tackle with the 11th pick, but who can be certain that any rookie would be ready to start?
The Jets could even learn from their own mistakes with Edoga himself. He clearly wasn't ready to start when asked to do so last season - and if you're going to bring a player into the line-up prematurely, especially if you're not forced to, you ideally need to add him to a group that's functioning well enough as a unit to give him some extra help.
So, looking at it another way, should we be discouraged by Edoga's struggles last year?
Edoga was initially handed a starting role after the Jets' offensive line had a rocky game against New England with Luke Falk at the helm and things didn't improve when he replaced Brandon Shell. In fact, it seemed like Shell had been the least of the problems on that line and that he was unfairly scapegoated.
When Kelvin Beachum got injured, Edoga had to remain in the line-up and even saw time at left tackle, but when Beachum returned there didn't seem to be any willingness on the Jets' part to give Shell back his job, despite the fact that Shell had outperformed Edoga. The rookie retained the starting role and only lost it when he suffered an injury that ultimately landed him on injured reserve.
For the season as a whole, Edoga started eight games and played over 400 snaps. He had six penalties and gave up just under three total pressures per game, including six sacks.
There's no question he struggled. PFF gave him a grade of 48.9, for example, which was the worst on a line full of players with substandard grades. However, does this have to mean we should write him off?
For context, let's look at all the other offensive linemen the Jets have drafted over the last decade. While we shouldn't overlook the fact that this is a bad sample, half these guys are still on rosters around the league or have been until recently.
Of the last 10 offensive linemen the Jets have drafted, including Edoga, five didn't play at all in their rookie year and you can probably assume that they would have struggled as Edoga did had they been forced into action.
Of those five, all of which were day three picks, three of them (Jarvis Harrison, Will Campbell and Robert Griffin II) never played in the NFL. Oday Aboushi and Dakota Dozier are still in the league - just about.
Matt Slauson, who went on to have a very good career, provides some hope. He only played 14 snaps in his rookie year and although he graded out well on those plays, he likely would have struggled had he been forced to play more. Then again, the Jets had an outstanding line at the time so it's possible they could have mitigated the effects of his lack of experience.
To a lesser extent, Vladimir Ducasse and Brandon Shell were in the same boat. Ducasse played 68 snaps and Shell started three games, playing over 200 snaps. However, each had played less than 20 snaps heading into the last three weeks. Shell started the last three games of the year so was able to join a stable unit that included Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Ducasse saw nearly all of his action in garbage time as the Jets rested starters with a playoff place locked up.
In each case, the Jets were much better equipped to cover for the inexperience of the rookie starters and had gelled as a line over the course of the season. It's not really the same as Edoga being thrown into the fire early in the season with a struggling line, third string quarterback and players going down injured all around him.
The only one of the 10, and therefore the closest analog to Edoga is Brian Winters, who replaced Ducasse and started 12 games in 2013 as the team stubbornly left him in the line-up even though he struggled worse than his predecessor.
Winters struggled just like Edoga did, giving up pressure at a similar rate (just under three pressures a game, including 10 sacks). In fact, PFF gave Edoga a higher pass rushing grade in his rookie year than Winters had.
Winters' overall grade was higher (just over 60), but that was dragged up by a couple of good games at the end of the year and obviously his run blocking grade was affected by the fact he was able to line up in between Mangold and Ferguson. Although his run blocking grade as a rookie was a higher number than Edoga's, it was the worst on a solid run blocking line, whereas Edoga was in the middle of the pack on a Jets' line that struggled as a group.
Had Edoga managed to avoid getting injured, it would have been interesting to see if he could have had a couple of encouraging games at the end of his rookie year as a few of these other players did. Unfortunately, it ended before he could totally settle into his role - and before the line as a whole had established good chemistry with so many moving parts.
So, yes, it is too soon to write off Edoga. It's also way too soon to guarantee him a job or even to feel confident that he's going to be any better this year than he was last year.
He has a lot of ability and showed promise at times last year, so hopefully the previous work ethic concerns will prove unfounded and he can improve his strength and technique and make strides in year two. Whether he'll do so as a starter or reserve is yet to be determined.
Bonus Link: Edoga's scouting report