But general manager Joe Douglas and his staff have received near-universal acclaim for their work in the 2022 draft, a haul that included three first-round picks and four potential starters this season.
The Jets filled major holes at cornerback, selecting Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, wide receiver (Garrett Wilson) and edge rusher (Jermaine Johnson) in the first round. Second-rounder Breece Hall will slot right in as part of a rotation with running back Michael Carter. And fourth-round pick Micheal Clemons could also be a difference maker on the edge.
Douglas and Co. stole the first night of the draft by trading back into the first round to nab Johnson with the 26th pick, giving the Jets three of the top eight targets on their draft board.
Pretty, pretty good.
As Douglas takes his victory lap, we’ll hand out the grades for the Jets’ seven selections in this year’s draft.
New York Jets 2022 NFL Draft Grades
Round 1, Pick 4 – CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner (Cincinnati)
Gardner was considered one of the safest bets in the draft and fills a huge hole in the Jets defense. The top-rated cornerback has it all – size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds), range, speed (4.41 seconds in the 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine), excellent ball skills, leadership ability and a swagger that the great ones all seem to have. He did not allow a touchdown in three seasons at Cincinnati and quarterbacks had a 26.1 rating when throwing his way, which they rarely did, last season. Gardner had nine interceptions in three collegiate seasons and added three sacks last season. He played mostly zone in college, so will have to prove himself at the NFL level in man coverage. But he’s smart and a diligent student, and that will help his transition when combined with his tremendous skill set.
from the University Of Cincinnati,
— New York Jets (@nyjets) May 10, 2022
Round 1, Pick 10 – WR Garrett Wilson (Ohio State)
Wilson was the top-rated wide receiver on many draft boards and will give second-year quarterback Zach Wilson another playmaker to work with. He's 6-foot tall but Wilson has great ball skills (which he credits to his days as a high-school basketball star), runs solid routes and has the explosiveness to turn average gains into big plays. Wilson caught 70 passes last season, averaged 15.1 yards per catch and had 12 touchdowns. He gives the Jets a vertical threat with his breakaway speed (4.38 40 at the combine). Wilson may not be a superstar receiver in the NFL but should be a very good one and will be a big part of the puzzle in the Jets offense.
Round 1, Pick 26 – DE Jermaine Johnson (Florida State)
Considering that Johnson was selected with the No. 26 pick, this grade could actually be an A or even A+ because of the value he should bring at the bottom of the first round. The ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Johnson led the conference with 12 sacks and 18.5 tackles for a loss last season. Critics question whether he’ll be a dominant pass rusher in the NFL, which may have led to his fall in the first round, where many considered him a top-10 talent. But most scouts love his upside, particularly because he’s a complete defensive player with a high motor. He is excellent against the run, something many edge rushers are not. Prior to his one season at Florida State, Johnson starred in JUCO and was part of a rotation on the defensive line with Georgia for two seasons. Some view him as a one-year wonder, others as a late-bloomer. Johnson should be a solid fit with the Jets where Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich believe in a heavy rotation during games to keep the front four fresh. If the Jets got this one right, Johnson could be the steal of the 2022 draft.
Round 2, Pick 36 – RB Breece Hall (Iowa State)
Running back may not have been an urgent need, but the Jets fell in love with Breece Hall at the combine and traded up to get him early in the second round. Hall, the first running back taken off the board, is a perfect fit in the Jets zone running scheme and should be an excellent complement to Michael Carter, who led them in rushing last season as a rookie. Hall was a consensus All-American last season and the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. In two years as a starter, Hall rushed for 3,044 yards and 41 touchdowns. He’s a patient runner with breakaway speed and is a good receiver out of the backfield. Hall gives Zach Wilson another legit playmaker to connect with.
Jets RB Breece Hall says he’s “excited” about sharing the backfield load with Michael Carter in a “very running back-friendly offense.” pic.twitter.com/XSWywObkmR
— Ralph Vacchiano (@RalphVacchiano) May 6, 2022
Round 3, Pick 101 – TE Jeremy Ruckert (Ohio State)
After signing veteran tight ends C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin in free agency this offseason, this (finally) was not a position of need. But the Jets looked to the future, where Ruckert could project to be a solid receiving and blocking tight end. He is big (6-foot-5, 252 pounds) and a solid blocker, which was his primary role at Ohio State. He showed the Jets staff his receiving skills at the Senior Bowl after making 26 receptions and adding three touchdowns last season. Ruckert is bound to be a fan favorite. The Long Island native is not only a local player, but a lifelong unabashed Jets fan.
Round 4, Pick 111 – OT Max Mitchell (Louisiana)
After passing on the bigger names in the first round, the Jets added to their offensive line group on the final day of the draft. Mitchell is a big (6-foot-6, 307 pounds), versatile lineman, who can play tackle guard and possibly center. He was primarily a right tackle in college, where he started 37 games. Mitchell projects to be a decent to good value pick whom the Jets can develop. And he could become an important player for them if Mekhi Becton struggles to remain healthy or when George Fant becomes a free agent at the end of the season.
Round 4, Pick 117 – DL Micheal Clemons (Texas A&M)
Perhaps the Jets most intriguing draft pick is Clemons, who could quite possibly be the dominant pass rusher they’ve sought for years. He fell to the fourth round because of off field issues — arrest for marijuana possession and failing to report he was carrying a firearm. Not good. But he is an imposing, menacing, physical player at 6-foot-5, 265 pounds, and was captain at Texas A&M last season, where he finished with seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss. “Nasty” is the word most associated with his playing style. He started his collegiate career as a running back at JUCO, which speaks to his athleticism. Clemons is already 25 years old, but is still somewhat of a project, or at least a bit of an unknown heading into training camp. His upside, though, is very enticing.
DE Michael Clemons says his favorite move in the power move: “You make a guy quickly respect you when you hit him in the mouth over and over again.” #Jets
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) May 6, 2022