The 2022 NFL Draft has come and gone, and with it, the New York Jets have positioned themselves excellently for the 2022 NFL season. The Jets came into the draft with a duo of picks in the top 10, as well as a number of extra picks throughout the first five rounds, and they put on an absolute masterclass. Without further ado, let’s take a look at what they were able to do, with the New York Jets 2022 NFL Draft Recap.
Round 1, Pick 4: Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
The man they call “Sauce” fell right into the Jets’ lap at the fourth pick, and they pounced on him. They immediately filled a huge position of need, and he figures to line up opposite D.J. Reed. Sneakily, this becomes one of the better starting tandems at cornerback in the entire NFL.
Overall, this position group is massively upgraded with just those two additions, and fans should be really happy with the pick here. Gardner was amazing at Cincinnati, never allowing a single touchdown in his entire career.
Mostly a press-man corner, Gardner will have to be acclimated into this system that Robert Saleh runs, which is very zone heavy. Gardner is still extremely good in zone coverage, but it is something to note.
Round 1, Pick 10: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Wilson instantly comes in as a starter for the Jets, and it’s another great pick by Joe Douglas. Consider who Sam Darnold had to throw the ball to during his time with the Jets, and then compare that to Elijah Moore, Garrett Wilson, Corey Davis, C.J. Uzomah, and Tyler Conklin.
Wilson was electrifying at Ohio State from the start, putting himself on the map in the 2019 College Football Playoff semifinals with one of the best catches of the season as a freshman. He then went on to have one of the most impressive careers at the wide receiver position in Ohio State history, no small feat.
A very polished route runner, Wilson is very reminiscent of Keenan Allen, a smooth route runner who gets open with ease. He does have more speed, which the Jets will try to use as much as possible.
Round 1, Pick 26: Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State
A steal! Johnson was mocked to go in the top 10 of virtually every mock draft, and the Jets got him at pick 26. In fact, some mocks had the Jets picking him at four, as well as 10. The Jets traded back into the first round with the Tennessee Titans to grab him, parting with the 35th, 69th, and 163rd picks in the process.
Johnson was labeled by some as a one-year wonder, but his production was truly elite. He finished 2021 with 12 sacks, 18.5 tackles for loss, two forces fumbles, and two passes defended. Johnson started at Independence Community College and starred on Netflix show “Last Chance U,” but then transferred to Georgia where he didn’t really get a chance to shine. He later moved on to Florida State, and was named the 2021 ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Johnson has a high motor, something the Jets will love to have on the edge-rushing quarterbacks.
Round 2, Pick 35: Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
Hall goes to the Jets and is the first running back off the board. He will come in right away alongside Michael Carter, who had a great rookie year in 2021. Funnily enough, Hall is very similar to Javonte Williams, Carter’s college teammate at North Carolina when they ran for 2,385 yards combined in 2020.
Hall compares to another great running back, LeVeon Bell, with great patience and vision in the backfield. He also has great breakaway speed and can be a threat out of the backfield. Him and Carter are a great one-two punch for this offense, behind a great offensive line.
Hall finished 2021 with 1,472 yards and 20 touchdowns, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. He was a two-time consensus All-American in 2020 and 2021.
Round 3, Pick 101: Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State
Another weapon for Wilson, Ruckert comes into a now packed tight end room, behind Uzomah and Conklin. The offense they like to run involves a lot of 11 personnel, which means two tight ends will be on the field at the same time, so having Ruckert as depth is a great pick up.
While he probably won’t be on the field too often, it does matter that Uzomah is 30 years old. This pick might make even more sense in the next couple of years than it does right now. Ruckert finished his college career with 615 yards and 12 touchdowns on 54 receptions, which are stats that don’t exactly jump off the screen. However, given the context of the team around him, which included four first round picks at receiver, it becomes clear that there was just limited opportunity.
Ruckert is also a Long Island native who grew up a Jets fan. He was a 5-star recruit out of Lindenhurst, New York.
Round 4, Pick 111: Max Mitchell, OT, Louisiana
Mitchell is another great depth piece along the offensive line, which is much needed depending on the health of Mekhi Becton. While his recovery from a leg injury is going nicely, it is relevant that he has been on IR more than he has played since he got drafted.
Mitchell was PFF’s top-graded offensive tackle in 2021, with a grade of 94.1. He can move guys easily in the run game, but needs to learn to be better with extending his arms when doing so. Mitchell could eventually be a starting-caliber offensive lineman, but for now he does provide good depth. He also has the ability to play on both sides of the offensive line, which is very valuable.
Round 4, Pick 117: Micheal Clemons, DE, Texas A&M
Clemons is another pick along the defensive line, a guy who has a little bit of risk attached to him. On the field, he is a fiesty and hard-working player who has a high motor. He finished the 2021 season with seven sacks, 32 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and 46 quarterback pressures. The pressures total was fourth-most in the SEC according to PFF.
Off the field, however, he was arrested and suspended for one game for possession of a weapon, possession of marijuana, failure to identify/giving false information, and driving with an invalid license. Knowing how Joe Douglas operates, as well as Robert Saleh, there should be no concerns here.
Clemons adds, at a minimum, more depth along the defensive line, with potential to become a quality player behind Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers, Jacob Martin, and now Jermaine Johnson.
Draft Class Grade
The New York Jets 2022 Draft Class gets an A-. The first three picks that they had in round one would easily be an A+ grade, and they continued to do well through the second and third rounds. They managed to add instant starters in Gardner, many analysts’ CB1, Wilson, many analysts’ WR1, and Jermaine Johnson, many analysts’ EDGE3. Adding those three guys was an incredible haul by Douglas and Saleh.
Going into rounds two and three, trading up to grab Breece Hall was a savvy move, and the Jets now have what seems to be their committee of backs that this offense normally likes to run. Ruckert gives them great depth at the tight end position and a guy to be excited about for the future.
The fourth round, picking Mitchell and Clemons, was not as exciting. It wasn’t bad by any means, but they could have addressed the linebacker position at either of these picks with a guy like Wisconsin’s Leo Chenal or Penn State’s Brandon Smith. In the end, they added much-needed depth at offensive line and an exciting prospect for the defensive line.