The New York Jets understood going into the 2023 NFL Draft that they needed help along the interior of their offensive line.
It took until the second round but the team secured one of the best centers in the current class.
There are plenty of reasons why the Jets felt that Joe Tippmann was the better fit at center as opposed to other prospects like John Michael Schmitz, but the mean streak and overall football IQ were easily the two that meant the most.
“He (Tippmann) brings athleticism, he brings toughness, he brings intelligence and he’s going to be a good fit with our guys,” general manager Joe Douglas said. “Very intelligent, quick grasp of the offense there in Madison, and able to control the huddle. That means a lot, the center has to be the core of the interior, core of the offensive line so has to be able to communicate, take control.”
With Tippmann being a second-round pick out of one of the best universities to produce offensive linemen (Wisconsin), expectations are that he could very well start over recently signed players like Connor McGovern. Head coach Robert Saleh confirmed that there would be an open competition at their spot.
“Everyone’s competing. Doesn’t matter where you get drafted, doesn’t matter what you get paid, you’re coming in to compete to begin with, so it’s going to be an open competition,” the coach confirmed.
Tippmann isn’t concerned about competing for a starting spot just a day after being drafted by the Jets. At Wisconsin, the 6’6 center recorded a Pro Football Focus grade of an elite 78.7. His football IQ, tied in with an unusual build for a center, makes him an interesting commodity for a Jets offensive line whose sole responsibility now is protecting Aaron Rodgers.
“I’m a physical, dominant player. Athletic as well. Someone who’s hopefully going to be able to get out and pull. As far as for the Jets, first things first, I need to earn the trust and respect from the rest of my teammates before anything, I guess,” the 43rd overall selection explained.
Gang Green’s new center was already well-versed in what the Jets were trying to do even before the NFL Draft began. His mentor and coach is former Jets right tackle Jason Fabini. Fabini was a starter on the Jets’ offensive line for eight seasons. That experience Tippmann has gotten from a player who knows the franchise well has proven invaluable even during his Top-30 visit before Draft Day.
“He’s (Fabini) someone who’s been a mentor to me, kind of like a lifeline, somebody that I can always lean on, someone that I can always count on to be able to assist me with anything and kind of just push me to be a better player,” Tippmann added. “Even back then when I was taking the visit, I was really excited about the Jets.”
There’s a lot for Tippmann to need to catch up to speed on with the Jets’ rookie minicamp beginning over the next few weeks. But if it goes as well as it did in Wisconsin, New York could have found their starting center for 2023.