Who will the Jets select in the 2022 NFL Draft?
The wait is over! ESPN’s NFL draft guru, Mel Kiper, Jr., dropped his first mock draft of the year on Wednesday morning.
With the New York Jets owning two of the top ten overall selections, there will be plenty of attention on Gang Green. And the Jets have their fair share of needs to address early and often in the 2022 NFL Draft.
So who does Kiper believe the Jets will select when their two picks come up in the first round? Let’s get into it.
4. Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Kiper’s Take: “The Jets had big defensive issues in Robert Saleh’s first season as coach, from the front seven to the secondary. They didn’t get after quarterbacks, and they couldn’t cover pass-catchers, which is a recipe for another top-five draft pick. Hamilton would fill a void at safety, especially if Marcus Maye leaves in free agency. Six-foot-4, 220-pound Hamilton has rare traits for his size, and he can play in the box or as a center fielder (he had eight career interceptions for the Fighting Irish). He was one of the most versatile defenders in college football for the past three seasons. Hamilton played in only seven games in 2021 because of a knee injury, but I’m told he’ll be ready to work out at the NFL combine in March. The Jets also pick at No. 10, and they could get help on offense there.”
Our Take: We love the pick. In fact, we’ve had Hamilton going to the Jets in almost all of our own mock drafts throughout the 2021 NFL season. With Maye wanting to get paid, why wouldn’t the Jets look to replace him — younger and cheaper — with a player who might be better? This is a great player worthy of the slot who also happens to fill a need. We’re buying.
10. Drake London, WR, USC
Kiper’s Take: “Quarterback Zach Wilson had a rough rookie season, as the Jets finished near the bottom in most offensive statistics. So if I’m giving them defensive help with the No. 4 pick, let’s give Wilson a target here, because his best pass-catchers in 2021 are all better out of the slot. Elijah Moore, Jamison Crowder and Braxton Berrios are good players, but they’re never going to be down-the-field aerial threats.
London — who is 6-foot-5 and also played on the USC basketball team — has a chance to be a special outside receiver. He caught 88 passes for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games this season. His record-breaking year ended in late October because of a fractured right ankle, but he is expected to be ready for the 2022 season. He can be Wilson’s top target, giving the Jets a huge red zone threat. The Jets, by the way, also have an extra second-round pick from the Sam Darnold trade, and they could address the offensive line on Day 2 of the draft.”
Our Take: If the Jets want Wilson to succeed — and they should, given where they picked him last year — they need to do two things: protect him, and give him bigger/better targets. The Jets did select Elijah Moore in the second round last year, and he had a nice rookie season. But at 5-10 and 180 pounds, he isn’t nearly the target that London would be for Wilson.
The hundred dollar question, which Kiper alludes to, is whether or not the Jets will opt to go with an offensive lineman here. The Jets added Alijah Vera-Tucker in the first round last year but still need to work on protecting Wilson. Kiper has the three top tackles — Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonmu and Charles Cross — off the board before the Jets’ second pick. If that’s the case, we love the idea of a huge target outside for Wilson.