The bulk of free agency is over. The Jets now turn to the 2022 NFL Draft.
Tom Brady retiring only to come back a little over a month later.
The Browns trading for troubled quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is still facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct and sexual assault.
The Packers signing Aaron Rodgers to a lucrative four-year deal and trading Davante Adams to the Raiders.
Russell Wilson departing Seattle for Denver by means of a blockbuster trade.
This has, without a doubt, been the craziest NFL offseason ever — and we’re just getting started.
This should be a valuable draft for the Jets, being that New York owns nine total picks, including two in the top 10 (Nos. 4 and 10 overall).
Following various moves made during the free agency portion of the offseason, what may general manager Joe Douglas look to accomplish during this annual event?
Jets’ 2022 draft picks
Round 1, Pick 4
Round 1, Pick 10
Round 2, Pick 35
Round 2, Pick 38
Round 3, Pick 69
Round 4, Pick 111
Round 4, Pick 117
Round 5, Pick 146
Round 5, Pick 163
Hamilton to Florham Park?
Numerous mocks have linked Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton to the Jets at No. 4 overall. Marcus Maye is now a Saint and the Jets could use a potential star at that position given they fielded the worst defense in the NFL last year.
It’s unclear if Douglas would elect to use that type of draft resource on a safety though. Remember: this is the same GM who opted to trade Jamal Adams instead of sign him to a long-term deal and also never inked Maye to a long-term extension either.
However, the Jets certainly need help on that side of the ball, especially in the deep part of the field. New York allowed 259.4 passing yards per game last year (30th in the league).
Cornerback at No. 4?
The Jets could also elect to draft cornerback Sauce Gardner (Cincinnati) or cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (LSU) at No. 4 to improve their horrendous secondary. If Gardner is someone the organization falls in love with, the Jets cannot wait until their 10th overall pick to bring him to Florham Park — Gardner’s draft stock is constantly improving and he could certainly be a top-five pick when this is all said and done.
Douglas did just sign cornerback D.J. Reed to a three-year deal and used various picks in the 2021 draft on this position (Brandin Echols, Michael Carter II, Jason Pinnock). However, depth is always crucial in the defensive backfield given the passing league the modern-day NFL is.
If the Jets can draft a day-one starter and potential star (such as Gardner) it could greatly benefit the defensive unit as a whole.
Edge rusher at No. 4?
There’s definitely thought to the Jets addressing the pass rush early in the first round, especially if Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux is available when they’re on the clock.
However, I’m not a huge fan of this idea (and I’m not just saying this because I want the Giants to draft him). This No. 4 overall pick is a valuable, precious resource, especially for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2010 season and desperately needs to improve in 2022.
With that said, why should the Jets use this resource on a position it addressed numerous times last year? New York inked Carl Lawson to a three-year deal last offseason before signing John Franklin-Myers to a four-year extension in October.
I understand fielding a consistently productive pass rush will help the Jets improve when it comes to defending the pass. But with the number of roster needs present, I’m not falling in love with the idea of using the fourth pick on the defensive end spot, considering the presence of Lawson and Franklin-Myers.
Wide receiver at No. 10?
An idea I do love, however, is the Jets potentially taking a receiver with their second opening-round pick. In order to effectively and efficiently develop in year two, quarterback Zach Wilson will need all the weapons he can get — and he just lost one in Jamison Crowder.
Adding a guy like Drake London (USC) or Garrett Wilson (Ohio State) to complement Corey Davis and Elijah Moore could work wonders for this offensive unit.
There initially was thought to the Jets using this selection on an interior offensive lineman such as Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum, but that need was erased with the signing of guard Laken Tomlinson to a three-year contract.
Other positions to address
I can see the Jets using Day 2 and 3 picks on a linebacker, offensive line depth, secondary depth, and edge rusher depth.
If the Jets pass on an edge rusher in the first round, expect them to make a run at one in the second. Maybe Drake Jackson out of USC? Michigan’s David Ojabo may also be an option — his stock has plummeted after he tore his Achilles during his pro day.
The linebacker spot is additionally an option in the second round (remember: the Jets own two picks in that round). Predicting the draft is impossible, so it’s not set in stone that Georgia’s Nakobe Dean is a first-rounder. There’s a chance the Bulldog drops to the second round and is available when the Jets are on the board (at No. 35 or 38).
If I’m the Jets, I use the third-round pick (No. 69 overall) on an offensive tackle — seriously. Find a swing tackle you can develop down the road. It’s not clear if George Fant will be with the team after this coming season and Mekhi Becton’s long-term future is unknown given his injury history (he missed 16 games last year due to a dislocated knee cap).
Finding a reserve interior lineman along with reserve defensive backs will be crucial as well — expect the Jets to possibly use their fourth- and fifth-round picks on these roles. Depth at either spot is important, and the Jets will need reliable bodies in the event of injuries (which they dealt with at length last year).
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY