Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson have been the pillars of the Jets' offensive line for the past decade.

They're the protectors of the franchise (the quarterback), the conduit for a solid running game.

But as dominant as they have been at their positions, the Jets can't ignore their age -- Mangold turned 31 in January and Ferguson will be 32 in December. The Jets eventually need to find the next generation of pillars. But is this the draft to do it?

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ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. believes the Jets should take Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff if Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is already off the board.

"The Scherff pick also makes a lot of sense if you look at the improvements they've made on defense and the improvements they still need to make on offense," Kiper said. "The Jets are going to have a good defense next season regardless of whom they take here. The new threats in the passing game are nice, but given the QB options on the roster, this team needs to be able to run the ball.

"Scherff is a possible starter immediately at right tackle, and is a clear upgrade at either guard spot. It might not be exciting for the fans, but for immediate impact, this could be the best pick to make."

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Scherff won the Outland Trophy as the nation's top lineman and was named the Hawkeyes' MVP.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock is also very high on Scherff, but after that, "there's an awful lot of question marks," he said.

Stanford's Andrus Peat, Ereck Flowers of Miami, LSU's La'el Collins and Florida's D.J. Humphries have all been discussed as potential first-round picks. "But I can poke a hole in every one of those kids, either from a technique perspective or an off-the-field perspective or whatever," Mayock said.

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If you're the Jets, you need some assurances that Geno Smith (or the to-be-determined quarterback they take in this week's draft) will remain upright for 16 games.

The last time the organization went the offensive lineman route in the first round was in 2006, when they landed both Ferguson at No. 4 and Mangold 29th. The two have been the foundation of the line, the trusted veterans in the O-line meeting rooms and perennial Pro Bowlers -- Mangold, a three-time All-Pro, has been named to the Pro Bowl six times and Ferguson, a Freeport native, has been selected three times.

The Jets have the No. 6 pick, but there's a good chance general manager Mike Maccagnan will trade back Thursday night.

"Philosophically, I like the idea of getting more picks. Because to me, more picks are more opportunities to find players," he said.

This offseason, the team signed former Seahawks guard James Carpenter to a four-year deal. The Jets re-signed veteran Willie Colon, 32, to a one-year contract, and also gave a one-year-deal to James Brewer, 27. Left tackle Breno Giacomini returns, along with Oday Aboushi and Brian Winters. Last season, Aboushi started 10 games in place of Winters, who tore the ACL in his left knee in Week 6.