Jets rookie Max Mitchell providing lift to offensive line
Max Mitchell was supposed to the be the weak link on the Jets’ offensive line.
He’s a rookie fourth-round draft pick who was forced into a starting role when three tackles ahead of him were injured.
Not a lot was expected of the 22-year-old, who was drafted 111th overall out of Louisiana-Lafayette and thrust into the starting right tackle job in Week 1 because Mekhi Becton is done for the season with a knee injury and emergency free-agent signee Duane Brown never played a down after suffering a shoulder injury in practice.
If you had any notions that Mitchell was stressed about being the afterthought option, you don’t know a lot about him. He has been cast in this movie before.
Mitchell, a native of Monroe, La., who wanted to go to LSU, was under-recruited out of high school. After LSU snubbed him, Louisiana offered him a scholarship as a project, and all he did was start all 37 games in his four years there.
Overlooked in the draft largely because he played against perceived inferior Sun Belt Conference competition, Mitchell was plucked by the Jets in the fourth round.
“We initially thought, it’s going to take a year or maybe two,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said of a plan to start Mitchell.
Well, a month into this season, Mitchell not only is preparing to make his fourth start, Sunday in Pittsburgh, but he’s the furthest thing from the Jets’ biggest worry on the offensive line.
“He has just been ascending at a rapid level,” Saleh said Monday.
Mitchell, on Thursday after practice, didn’t have to think very long when asked by The Post who has influenced him most in his life.
“I really credit my dad with building my character and my work ethic,’’ he said. “He got my [butt] in gear in high school and got me working. I credit him with my character and convictions. He was very old-school.’’
Mitchell, too, is an old soul. His mother, Jody, died in a one-car accident when he was a month short of his fourth birthday. He comes across as anything but a wide-eyed 22-year-old.
“If anything, it made him mature, made him a little bit of a stronger person, and that probably served him well,’’ Mitchell’s father John told The Post by phone Thursday.
John Mitchell said “it warms my heart’’ to hear his son credit him for molding him.
John Mitchell feels like he’s watching history repeat itself with the Jets.
“Max came out of high school a good player, he was a late bloomer,’’ he said. “Louisiana was going to redshirt him, work on him for a year or two and then put him in the lineup. Halfway through the first summer, the coach called and said, ‘John, we’re playing your boy.’ I’m like, ‘What? Wow. OK.’ ’’
Max Mitchell played every game. He earned all-conference honors as a junior and as a senior he was all-American.
“I kind of see the same thing happening here with the Jets,’’ John Mitchell said.
That’s music to general manager Joe Douglas’ ears.
Mitchell, with his easygoing personality and humble nature, took little time to endear himself to his veteran teammates.
“Max has a quiet confidence,’’ running back Michael Carter told The Post. “Once you get to the league and you realize it doesn’t matter what round you were drafted in.’’
On Monday night, Giants right tackle Evan Neal, drafted 104 spots before Mitchell in April, was a human turnstile against the Cowboys’ defensive front, yielding four sacks. This isn’t to say Neal won’t become a very good player at some point, but Mitchell has performed better than Neal has through a month of the season. And he wasn’t even supposed to be playing.
“After the first preseason game against the Eagles, I said to myself, ‘This is just football. I’ve been playing football for a long time,’ ’’ Mitchell said. “After that game — and it wasn’t a perfect game by any means — I was like, ‘All right, this wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I can do this.’ ’’
He had those feelings entering the draft, too.
“I was watching these guys get drafted before me and I was like, ‘I can do the same thing these guys can,’ ’’ Mitchell said. “I’ve watched some of their tape and seen them play and I feel like I’m as good as any of them.’’
Mitchell said hearing Saleh say he has a chance to be in the league for a long time “gives me something that I feel like I can work to grow into. I really want to be that franchise tackle and be with this team hopefully for a long time.’’
The kid is off to a good start.
Not so much.
Denial of responsibility! Today Breeze.in is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – email@example.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.