Draft No. 3 for Joe Douglas as Jets general manager is in the books, and it was a crucial one.
A decade of losing has depressed the fanbase. But 2022 is when the Jets have a chance to make a jump. Did Douglas position them to do so?
First-round winners. There wasn’t a single team that had a better opening-round performance than the Jets.
- Round 1, Pick 4: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
- Round 1, Pick 10: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
- Round 1, Pick 26: Jermaine Johnson, DE, Florida State
Addressing the cornerback position at some point was inevitable. The Jets secondary allowed 259.4 passing yards a game last year (third-worst in the NFL). They needed to heavily upgrade an important position. Gardner was arguably the most talented corner of the class. The fact he landed in the Jets’ lap was spectacular, and Douglas pounced at the opportunity.
Addressing the wide receiver at No. 10 was a foregone conclusion. Wilson is also arguably the best at his position in this class and the Jets needed to improve the receiver room for Zach Wilson. The young quarterback has a crucial second season on deck — the Ohio State product should help him improve.
But then, the move of the night: Douglas trading back into the first round by giving the Titans (No. 26 overall) the 35th, 69th, and 163rd selections. And at No. 26, the Jets somehow ended up with Johnson.
The Florida State pass rusher was someone the Jets were reportedly interested in. There was actually thought he could be a top-10 pick. The fact Douglas was able to make a move to still get him at No. 26 is incredible.
The Jets came away from Day 1 by addressing their three biggest roster needs — a perfect evening for them.
Zach Wilson’s supporting cast. Wilson didn’t conclude the Jets’ enhancing of Zach Wilson’s supporting cast. The roster is always a work-in-progress.
- Round 2, Pick 36: Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
- Round 3, Pick 101: Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State
Douglas must’ve loved Hall if he was willing to give up a fifth-round pick to trade up two spots. I guess he didn’t want to risk the Iowa State back not being available at No. 38, which is where the Jets were originally.
I wouldn’t have done it, but I’m not a GM. Douglas must’ve seen something in Hall that could really boost this offense and help Wilson improve.
The acquisition of Ruckert was great. He’s one of the more talented tight ends of this draft and he could complement both C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin (two veteran tight ends the Jets signed in free agency). A widespread slew of weapons will only work wonders for Wilson.
The “need” picks. Due to multiple trade-ups, the Jets ended up with only seven picks instead of the original nine. Thus, their own draft concluded in the fourth round with a pair of “need” picks.
- Round 4, Pick 111: Max Mitchell, OT, Louisiana
- Round 4, Pick 117: Micheal Clemons, DE, Texas A&M
The Jets seem to be set with their two starting tackles for 2022. But the long-term future is still unclear at those spots. Mekhi Becton has injury- and weight-related concerns and George Fant is entering a contract year (at least at the moment). Mitchell could be a reserve swing tackle and an eventual starter based on what occurs with Becton and Fant post-2022.
I didn’t think the Jets would address the pass rush again at 117 and instead target valuable secondary depth. But head coach Robert Saleh does prefer the front seven. So it’s not like the selection of Clemons was nonsense.
You can never employ enough pass rushers in the modern NFL. While Carl Lawson, Johnson, and John Franklin-Myers will assume the bulk of the reps, Clemons should find time on some passing downs.