Todd McShay has released his latest mock for the 2022 NFL Draft.
The 2022 NFL Scouting Combine is over.
The offseason is additionally off to a wild start with the trades of both Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz, along with Aaron Rodgers’ decision to remain in Green Bay.
It’s that time of year, when eye-popping headlines cause fans to be on the edge of their seats, even with no games being played.
The impressions made in the combine and the offseason moves being executed have also caused mock drafters to alter their predictions for the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft.
4. Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
McShay’s Take: “With Morgan Moses headed toward free agency and Mekhi Becton having trouble staying on the field, the Jets could certainly stand to add to the offensive line here. I thought about an edge rusher or cornerback, but the value is better for Neal at No. 4. (The Jets can address one of those other positions with their second top-10 pick.) Quarterback Zach Wilson saw pressure on 32.5% of his rookie-season dropbacks (seventh-most), and the Jets’ 60.5% pass block win rate was middle of the road in 2021. Even so, New York is probably one solid lineman away from a very good starting unit, with or without Moses in the fold. Neal has versatility, he is a dominant run-blocker, and he’s a powerful pass protector with a quick first step. He allowed just one sack in 621 pass-block snaps last season.”
Our Take: Very interesting decision by McShay.
Look, I’m not sure I’m totally for the Jets taking an offensive tackle at No. 4 given the presences of George Fant and Mekhi Becton. However, it’s still unclear if the latter will be a long-term piece on the roster given his injury history — he missed 16 games last year due to a dislocated knee cap.
Becton has issues remaining healthy, and the Jets cannot afford to keep experiencing those problems at such an important position when the hope is quarterback Zach Wilson develops in 2022 and beyond.
If there is seriously a concern with Becton within the organization (and there might be), choosing an offensive tackle at No. 4 could be in play. And with NC State tackle Ikem Ekwonu off the board at No. 3 in this mock, Evan Neal would be the top tackle available for New York.
10. Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
McShay’s Take: “We know this pick has to be on defense after the Jets went offensive tackle at No. 4 (and spent all of their high picks on offense last April), and Gardner still being on the board makes it an even easier decision — though Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II would make sense, too. Last season, Gardner gave up just 60 total yards, surrendered zero touchdowns, and picked off three passes, whereas the Jets allowed 8.0 passing yards per attempt and managed just seven interceptions. Gardner ran a 4.41 in the 40-yard dash on Sunday, and he smothers receivers off the line. The Jets like their young duo of Bryce Hall and Brandin Echols, but he is too good to pass on.”
Our Take: If Sauce Gardner is still available at No. 10 (and I don’t think he will be), the Jets absolutely need to take him.
This Gang Green secondary was horrendous last year and allowed 259.4 passing yards per game (30th in the NFL).
You read Gardner’s numbers that McShay pointed out in his take, right? If Sauce could translate his on-field skills to the professional level, it would improve the Jets defensive backfield from the get-go.
Gardner would be a day-one starter and day-one stud. The Jets would be executing an absolute steal of a draft pick by taking him at No. 10 overall.
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY