Following a disappointing 2021 season where the New York Jets finished 4-13 and in last place in the AFC East, the organization hoped to address several key weaknesses with some of the best talents the 2022 NFL Draft had to offer.
On Thursday, the Jets had arguably the best showing on the first evening of the annual event. The team entered the evening with two selections in the top-10. However, the organization felt that was not enough as they also ended up trading up from pick 35 in the second round, and getting the Tennessee Titans’ late first-round pick at 26. And the team did a heck of a job with their trio of picks in Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Garrett Wilson, and Jermaine Johnson II.
However, the Jets also made a trade on night two with crosstown rivals the New York Giants to move up in the second round and take Iowa State’s Breece Hall — the first running back selected in this year’s draft.
While the team mortgaged much of their picks on day three of the yearly event, they still ended up with seven picks in the NFL draft — with two or more in the first and fourth rounds. Talented players can be found in rounds five to seven, but those players are far and few, so the New York Jets having seven selections in the first four rounds is almost a perfect scenario for a rebuilding situation because of the value in those slots.
Let’s take a look at the 2022 NFL Draft selections made by the Jets and how impactful they could be on the team’s immediate future.
New York Jets hit a grand slam with trio of first rounders
In taking Cincinnatti cornerback “Sauce” Gardner, the Jets very well may have finally found their heir apparent to legendary CB Darrelle Revis. In three seasons for the Bearcats, the kid never surrendered one touchdown. That is unbelievable. Then you add in his consistency of pulling in three interceptions each season and having a good frame at 6-foot-3, 190-pounds and the franchise may have a perennial Pro-Bowler on their hands.
Following that strong selection for the team at No. 7, just a few picks later the organization took Garrett Wilson, the player many draft experts considered to be the best wide receiver in his class. While he wasn’t the first wideout taken, there is no doubting his talents. He is fast, has great hands, and has the ability to make plays on long routes. Outside of a possible knock on his size (6-foot, 183 pounds), Ohio State’s Wilson is maybe the most complete and NFL-ready pass-catcher in this draft.
In trading up to get Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson II, the team got a notable pass rusher with serious upside. While he doesn’t have a wealth of NCAA DI experience, in just one season with the Seminoles he has 12 sacks,18 tackles for loss, became a team captain, and was the ACC defensive player of the year. Enough said.
The first RB taken this year in Breece Hall could make a dynamic backfield combination with 2021 fourth-round pick Michael Carter. Hall put up big numbers in his final two seasons for Iowa State (1,572 and 1,472) and has game-changer speed that could make him an explosive option for head coach Robert Saleh.
Overall, the New York Jets were bold and added a lot of talent and upside in the first two rounds.
Grades for rounds 1 and 2: A
Jets look long-term in the third and fourth rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft
With their lone pick in the third round, the team got solid value but maybe not a need with Wilson’s Ohio State teammate Jeremy Ruckert. The tight end is a top-shelf blocker who maybe didn’t get to show off all of his pass-catching ability in an offense geared towards their talented wideouts. Meaning he could be better at the NFL level.
In the fourth round, the team took Louisiana offensive tackle Max Mitchell at 111, then Texas A&M defensive end Michael Clemons six slots later. The 6-foot-6, 307-pound Mitchell will be a project and insurance in case George Fant leaves in free agency. He was a three-year starter and has the ability to possibly play tackle or guard at the next level.
In Clemons, the franchise gets a talented player with some notable issues. He has dealt with injury issues as a three-year starter for the Aggies and has two arrests in his past. While the team surely vetted his background and feels good about the person he can become, there seems to be more risk than upside in the pick.
Grades for rounds 3 and 4: C-