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New York Jets mock draft: 2022 NFL Draft projections and analysis

Matt Johnson
New York Jets mock draft,
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets draft history under general manager Joe Douglas is a mixed bag of results since he started making decisions after the 2019 NFL Draft. If the Jets want to make a leap forward next season and Douglas wants to save his job, it’s imperative that he does well in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Fortunately for the Jets, they’ve got plenty of draft capital to work with. New York owns two top-10 selections and is slated to make four picks within the top-40 selections. When Day 2 of the NFL Draft concludes, the Jets could walk out with five top-100 prospects.

In terms of the Jets’ draft needs, it could come as no surprise that a franchise with six combined wins in two years needs to fill holes across the roster. But edge rusher, cornerback, safety, offensive tackle, wide receiver and linebacker will be among New York’s top priorities.

Related: NFL mock draft 2023 – CJ Stroud, Bryce Young headline outstanding 2023 NFL Draft class

Before we dive into our Jets mock draft, let’s examine the picks they currently hold.

2022 New York Jets draft picks

NFL: Combine
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
  • 1st round: 4th and 10th overall
  • 2nd round: 35th and 38th overall
  • 3rd round: 69th overall
  • 4th round: 111th and 117th overall
  • 5th round: 146th and 163rd overall

Let’s dive into our 2022 New York Jets mock draft.

New York Jets mock draft: Helping Zach Wilson, building a great defense

The early returns from quarterback Zach Wilson weren’t especially promising in his rookie season. But the New York Jets also didn’t surround him with enough talent to perform a quality evaluation. Strengthening the offensive line and adding more explosive weapons will go a long way in helping New York determine if Wilson can be a franchise quarterback.

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On the other side of the ball, one of the worst NFL defenses in 2021 simply lacked difference makers. New York’s secondary was abysmal and its pass rush often vanished. For Robert Saleh’s scheme to work, he needs players he trusts to execute assignments and make plays. Ideally, that will be found in the 2022 NFL Draft.

1st round, 4th overall: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

NFL: Scouting Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While some teams might have personality concerns regarding edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, his meeting with the New York Jets went extremely well. If the front office is willing to put aside the slightest concerns over Thibodeaux being a bit different than other top prospects, they can get an outstanding football player at a position of need.

There’s a case to be made that Thibodeaux is the best player in the 2022 draft class. He offers more upside than Aidan Hutchinson, offering the bend and physical skills that are found among the best pass rushers in the NFL. While Travon Walker offers the most upside of the three, Thibodeaux is a three-down player right now and his talent should win out.

Just let him get to work with Robert Saleh. Putting a healthy Carl Lawson on the same field with Thibodeaux, that’s a recipe for New York to take a nice step forward defensively in 2022.

1st round, 10th overall: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

NFL: Scouting Combine
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

We considering trading down in our New York Jets mock draft, taking a chance that Jameson Williams slides to the 15th or 16th overall pick. Ultimately, the chances of losing a game-changing player isn’t worth acquiring another Day 2 pick.

Williams is perfect for the Jets. He’s the best vertical threat in the draft class, a wideout who can stretch the field and leave NFL cornerbacks behind him. He fell down draft boards early in the process because he tore his ACL in the CFP National Championship Game. Fortunately, Williams is already ahead of schedule in his recovery and on track for an early return in the 2022 NFL season.

This is who New York should want as its No.1 wide receiver. Wilson’s best trait is his arms strength and that can only be used effectively if he is throwing to a receiver who can take the top off a defense. Plus, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur can find creative ways to utilize Williams’ speed and YAC ability.

2nd round, 35th overall: Jalen Pitre, DB, Baylor

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Mississippi at Baylor
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Jalen Pitre is one of our favorite players in the 2022 NFL Draft. He served as the leader of the Baylor Bears defense in 2021, both motivating his teammates and helping everyone play their position better. Those intangibles alone make him attractive to NFL coaches. Naturally, there’s more to this selection for the New York Jets.

Pitre played the ‘Star’ position in college, something that is being picked up by more NFL teams. He showed outstanding instincts at Baylor, always making plays around the football. The Jets know he’s a do-everything player. Pro Football Focus credited him with 47 stops last season, most among FBS defensive backs. Pitre is also comfortable as the slot corner, blanketing smaller, quicker weapons. With Thibodeaux and Pitre on the field, New York will have more talent and better tenacity.

2nd round, 38th overall: Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin

NFL: Scouting Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We’re not done using the top Jets draft picks on the defensive side. For Saleh’s scheme to work, the front seven needs to improve and that only happens with better play at linebacker. Leo Chenal isn’t a great athlete, he doesn’t fit the mold for the preferred trend at linebacker. Instead, he’s the battering ram in the middle of a defense. He received a 94.1 run-defense grade from PFF this past season, highlighting what he brings to the table. Even if he’s a two-down player at the next level, Chenal will play a role in New York’s defensive turnaround.

Related: New York Jets ‘purgatory’ cost them in free agency

3rd round, 69th overall: Dameon Pierce, RB, Florida

NCAA Football: Florida at Missouri
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Dameon Pierce is going to be a draft steal for a team, it might as well be the New York Jets. Florida deployed the 5-foot-10 running back in a committee backfield, but don’t let that fool you. If the Jets want to run it 20 times with Pierce, he would embrace that opportunity. He averaged one touchdown per seven touches in 2021 (NFL.com) and it’s hard to blame college players for not wanting to tackle him. Pierce’s balance is incredible and he plows through tacklers like a tank. A tandem of Pierce and Michael Carter is perfect.

Addressing the remainder of New York Jets draft needs

  • 4th round, 111th overall: Kellen Diesch, OT, Arizona State
  • 4th round, 117th overall: Romeo Doubs, WR, Nevada
  • 5th round, 146th overall: Damone Clark, LB, LSU
  • 5th round, 163rd overall: Matt Araiza, P, San Diego State

Let us know who you would like to see the New York Jets spend their 2022 picks on.