New York Jets 2022 NFL Draft Review

New York Jets Draft Review
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With the 2022 NFL Draft in the books, the New York Jets on paper walked away with one of the best drafts in recent memory. General Manager Joe Douglas reshaped the roster, building around a young, hungry core. Equipped with more than enough draft capital, Douglas and company did what was necessary to upgrade the roster.

That being said, New York gave their fans a round one for the history books. Not only did the team land arguably the top cornerback and wide receiver at fourth and tenth overall, but they traded back into round one to snag one of the top pass rushers. In sticking to their draft board, the Jets generated plenty of excitement for the upcoming season.

In the end, wearing Gotham Green in 2022 will be the following players:

  • First Round, 4th overall: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, cornerback, Cincinnati
  • First Round, 10th overall: Garrett Wilson, wide receiver, Ohio State
  • First Round, 26th overall: Jermaine Johnson II, defensive end, Florida State
  • Second Round, 36th overall: Breece Hall, running back, Iowa State
  • Third Round, 101st overall: Jeremy Ruckert, tight end, Ohio State
  • Fourth Round, 111th overall: Max Mitchell, offensive tackle, Louisiana
  • Fourth Round, 117th overall: Michael Clemons, defensive end, Texas A&M

New York Jets 2022 NFL Draft Grade: 9.8/10

New York Jets 2022 NFL Draft Review

The Best Player: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner”

Thanks to a 4-13 record in 2021, the Jets held the fourth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. With that, New York could have gone three ways – cornerback Ahmad Gardner, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, or offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu. Ultimately, the Jets stuck to their board landing Gardner from Cinnincati. Who as a matter of fact, never game up a touchdown in three collegiate seasons.

Standing at 6’3” and 190-pounds with a 4.41 40-yard-dash speed, Gardner is the shutdown boundary cornerback that Head Coach Robert Saleh loves on his defense. A lengthy and physical player, Gardner is going to add a demeanor to the Jets secondary needed to defend AFC East receivers Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, and more. An All-American selection in his last year with the Bearcats, there is potential for Gardner to be special with the Jets because of his ability to stick to receivers in press coverage.

Now joining a loaded Jets cornerback room, it won’t all need to be on Gardner early. D.J. Reed is an excellent free agent signing who will start opposite of Sauce. From there, the Jets will rotate the likes of Bryce Hall and Brandin Echols in, while Michael Carter II holds down the slot. Not only do the Jets have depth at cornerback now, but they have the elite upside of Gardner too.

Now, no rookie is perfect, and Gardner is still improving. There are ways to refine his technique to avoid penalties and add bulk to his frame. Nevertheless, this is a cornerback with Darrelle Revis-type potential that just joined a determined Jets secondary.

The Head-Scratcher: Micheal Clemons

It is difficult to poke holes in the 2022 Jets draft class. The team addressed their biggest needs and was aggressive, but did steer away from a previous trend. Gang Green has been longing for a strong culture that is focused on winning. That being said, they steered clear of players with past off-the-field issues.

That stigma has been broken this draft, as the Jets drafted Texas A&M’s, Micheal Clemons. Clemons, who was suspended from his 2021 season opener for arrest charges that include marijuana possession and unlawful carrying of a weapon, is the earliest final draft pick in Jets history. There is also an injury history that comes with Clemons, having been limited with foot and ankle issues.

Nevertheless, in the right environment and with the right guidance, the Jets see something special in Clemons. He fits defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich’s 4-3 defensive front. His 6’5″ and 263-pound frame offers plenty of versatility. Additionally, Clemons has the strength and aggressiveness to make an impact early on as a rotation piece.

The Surprise: Trading Up for Breece Hall

On day two, the Jets dealt the 38th and a day three pick for 35th overall in order to take Iowa State running back Breece Hall. Given the deal Douglas made on day one, it did not come as a surprise the Jets traded up. Rather, that Gang Green did so for a running back.

A bigger back at 5’11” and 217-pounds, Breece Hall has been one of college football’s best rushers in the past few years. In just 36 collegiate games, Hall rushed for 3,941 yards and 50 touchdowns while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. He also flashed his receiving ability, with 82 receptions for 734 yards and six more scores. The former Cyclone is a player who possesses special athleticism and breakaway speed in the open field. Simply put, Hall is a true number one back… which is why it is surprising the Jets traded up for him.

This is no knock at Hall by any means. The Jets already have 2021 fourth-round pick Michael Carter, who was one of the team’s most exciting playmakers when he gained the lead role out of the backfield. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur loves employing a committee backfield, which stems from his Kyle Shanahan-San Francisco 49ers roots.

However, what this does mean is the Jets have two running backs that are capable of being a lead back. It gives second-year quarterback Zach Wilson a one-two tandem that can quickly form one of the league’s rising backfields. In having a thunder-lightening combination in Hall and Carter, with a returning Tevin Coleman too, the Jets run game is going to be vastly improved in 2022.

The Steal: Jermaine Johnson II

As previously mentioned, the Jets traded back into the first round after their initial two first-round picks. In a deal with the Tennessee Titans that only gave up three selections that didn’t even include a first-rounder, the Jets selected defensive end Jermaine Johnson II from Florida State 26th overall. It was this pick that truly generated the most buzz around the Jets draft class.

This is because Johnson should not have been available in the late 20s. The 6’5” and 254-pound defensive end is a prototype player for the Jets defense and one that was considered a top-five edge defender in this year’s draft. He plays with an NFL-ready combination of size and power, with a plethora of moves off the edge to defend the run and get after the quarterback.

Early on, Johnson is likely to be a key piece of the Jets deep defensive end rotation. Including a healthy Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers, Bryce Huff, and more, it will be difficult for Johnson to be an immediate every-down player. Long-term though, that may be what it takes for him to tap into his Pro Bowl potential. He must become more consistent as a rusher, but with his ability to defend the run, teams will be looking back and wondering how the Jets stole him in the backend of the first round.

Most Likely to Turn Heads in Training Camp: Garrett Wilson

By the time July and August roll around, expect to hear all about the developing connection between Zach Wilson and Garrett Wilson. Taken tenth overall out of Ohio State, Garrett Wilson has the hands and spectacular catch ability to become a star in this league.

Playing in a loaded receiving corps at Ohio State, Wilson shined through because of his catch radius, agility, and skills to pick up yards after the catch. There are areas to improve, such as adding NFL play strength and touching up his routes, but Wilson will be a day one contributor.

Garrett Wilson joins what on paper is one of the Jets most talented receiving units in recent memory. Elijah Moore and Wilson will be able to cause chaos with their elusiveness, while a healthy Corey Davis works the field deep, and Braxton Berrios is being utilized in every way possible. Surely, LaFleur cannot wait to get the Ohio State product in the fold.

In a matter of months, there will be Wilson-to-Wilson jaw-dropping catches all over social media.

The Rest

More Support for Zach Wilson

This off-season has been all about putting the pieces around Zach Wilson that he needs in year two. With their other two picks in the draft, Douglas did just that. With the 101st overall pick, the Jets selected life-long fan Jeremy Ruckert. Another Ohio State product, Ruckert is an excellent blocker with reliable hands. Ruckert also entered the draft regarded as one of the better tight end prospects in a class without a star. Due to the signings of C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin, the Jets do not need to rush Ruckert’s development, as he can do so as the Jets third-string tight end this season.

Similarly, there is no need to throw 111th overall pick Max Mitchell into the fire out of the gates. Mitchell has the versatility to be a swing tackle early and the athleticism to excel in the Jets offense. With George Fant and Mekhi Becton as their top two tackles, Mitchell can learn behind them as a rookie. Thus, giving the Jets a well-rounded draft of addressing their biggest needs, depth, and working for their big board. All to give fans a young core to cheer for in 2022.

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