Future Jets: Western Kentucky OL Forrest Lamp

I’ll level with you, Jet Fuel readers. I’m a sucker for names. Funny names, dumb names, unique names. If another team had drafted D’Brickashaw Ferguson in 2006, I might have switched allegiances. 11 years later, another offensive tackle prospect rises to the occasion as a budding fan favorite, just for fans to be able to chant his name: Forrest Lamp.

Lamp went from a two-star recruit in high school to a four-year starter at Western Kentucky, locking down the left tackle position. The trouble is, scouts seem to unanimously agree that Lamp is better suited to play guard in the NFL, and if there’s one position on the offensive line the New York Jets actually have figured out, it’s guard.

Let’s break this down and see how a prospect who, I emphasize, actually has the last name “Lamp” might fit in with the Jets, if at all.

How he’s rated: 

ESPN.com: No. 1 guard, No. 13 overall prospect

CBSSports.com: No. 1 guard, No. 28 overall prospect

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah: No. 1 guard, No. 16 overall prospect

NFL Combine results 

40-yard dash: 5.00 seconds

Bench press: 34 reps

3-cone drill: 7.55 seconds

Scout’s take: 

CBSSports’ Dane Brugler: “A physical, technically-sound blocker, he works hard to keep rushers in front of him in pass protection and rolls his hips as a run blocker to create movement. Similar to Zack Martin as a pro prospect, Lamp might be able to survive in the NFL at tackle due to his coordinated, square-blocking skills, but his lack of ideal length makes him better suited as an interior blocker. With his body control, core strength and stubborn mentality, Lamp has the necessary traits to make the transition to guard and start early in his NFL career.”

Adam’s take: 

Mel Kiper Jr. recently mocked Alabama tight end O.J. Howard to the Jets at No. 6 overall. I think that’s a reach, because the Jets can get more creative at the tight end position. Why not just draft Lamp and have him report as an eligible receiver any time they’re in the red zone?

Yeah, the Hilltoppers ran this play in their bowl game, and this video was my first introduction to my favorite prospect of the draft. Lamp catches that ball so far away from his body like it’s no big deal. Even if a linebacker or safety got through blockers to reach Lamp, do you think it’ll take just one of them to tackle a 309-pound ball-carrier? It’s a nine-yard play, but the dude runs 16 yards with force. (I’ll spare you the “Run, Forrest, Run!” No, I won’t.) Can you say Kellen Davis ever made a play that looked like that in his stint with New York?

With that out of the way, let’s return to a common theme of Lamp’s scouting reports – comparisons with Cowboys guard Zack Martin. Martin never played guard at Notre Dame, just tackle. He and Lamp also have eerily identical measurables — 6-foot-4, 309 pounds — and Lamp’s arms (32 1/4 inches) are just a half-inch shorter than Martin’s measured (32 3/4 inches) at the scouting combine. That arm length is partly what makes scouts see “guard” when they look at Lamp, the way they did when Martin was coming out of college as a first-round prospect.

The point here is that Lamp isn’t actually built to handle elite pass rushers. So rather than bore you with gifs of Lamp protecting effectively against Louisiana Tech, I’ll be humble and show you one where he struggles to finish against Alabama’s NFL-level talent, Jonathan Allen, and allows a sack.

You’ll have noticed Lamp’s rankings earlier in this article. He was not so highly rated a few months ago, when he was considered a tackle prospect going in the late second or early third round. Since people started classifying him as a guard (which, like Martin, he never played in college), his proverbial “stock” has risen and many consider it possible he’ll be off the board on Thursday.

The Jets signed Brian Winters to a long-term contract this offseason, and Winters and fellow guard James Carpenter look like the best O-linemen on the team. The team also signed free agent Kelvin Beachum to start at left tackle. That leaves right tackle, which looks like a competition between Ben Ijalana and Brandon Shell, and center, which seems to be left to Wesley Johnson.

Therefore, if the Jets believe Lamp has the capacity to be a good starting tackle or center in the league, they’ll probably be giving him a hard look. If they see him merely as the best guard prospect in the draft, it’s less likely, because guard simply isn’t a need worthy of a high pick. Even when you take Mike Maccagnan’s “best player available” strategy into consideration, Lamp isn’t going to be a top-10 pick but might not be available in the early second round, if scouts are to be believed.

I think it’s pretty unlikely the Jets draft Forrest Lamp. But that doesn’t change how I feel about him. I love Lamp. I think you should, too, whether the Jets or any other team picks him. He really could be the next Zack Martin, and in a league where the sexy new strategy is to build an indestructible offensive line, that’s supremely valuable.

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