As the Jets get closer to training camp, I am examining the roster and giving you my top 25 players. Each weekday, we will reveal another person on the list, leading right into camp. I am not including rookies on this list because I do not feel it is possible to fully evaluate them before they play a game.
No. 13: Connor McGovern
Last year’s ranking: 8
Age on Opening Day: 28
How acquired: Signed a three-year, $27 million free agent contract on March 30, 2020
Years left on contract: 2
2021 Salary Cap figure: $9.3 million
Looking back at 2020
McGovern was part of GM Joe Douglas’ revamped offensive line last year. Douglas gave him decent money in hopes that he could solidify a center spot that has been a revolving door since Nick Mangold was cut after the 2016 season.
The results were not what the Jets or McGovern wanted. He played OK at times and poor at others. The one thing you can say for him is that he showed a lot of toughness. Despite suffering a hamstring injury in Week 2, McGovern ended up starting all 16 games, the only member of the offensive line who did so, and played 98 percent of the offensive snaps.
The Jets believed McGovern’s hamstring injury really affected his play early in the season and felt he showed improvement later in the year. McGovern’s injury was serious enough that the Jets thought he would not play in Week 3 against the Colts, but he managed to play the entire game.
PFF ranked McGovern 23rd out of 36 centers it graded. He was 35th out of 36 in pass blocking. McGovern gave up six sacks and 33 pressures, per PFF. His worst game came in Week 4 against the Broncos, when he allowed five pressures.
McGovern was only penalized three times.
Outlook for 2021
The Jets are sticking with McGovern at center in 2021. They really did not have much of a choice because of his contract. His $8 million salary is fully guaranteed this year. They could have moved him to right guard and tried to find another center, but have opted to stick with him in the middle.
The Jets believe a fully healthy McGovern will have a better showing this year than in his first with the Jets. They also hope the coaching change benefits him. John Benton has been hired as the offensive line coach and running game coordinator, and his zone-blocking system should take advantage of McGovern’s athleticism.
There are not many people more critical to a young quarterback than the center. Mangold did a great job helping Mark Sanchez early in his career. The Jets will be leaning on McGovern to help Zach Wilson identify defenses and call the protections.