The New York Jets head into the 2022 offseason with a plethora of holes. However, they have four draft picks in the top-40, and could have over $60 million in cap space following cuts.
Joe Douglas is in a very good situation. They have a coaching staff in place that has shown they can get the best out of players who many do not think highly of. He also proved he can handle the draft, and that is despite a poor first display at the event. Even though the first draft was a poor one, the Adam Gase factor has to be a huge reason for that.
That being said, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Elijah Moore, Michael Carter, Michael Carter II, and Brandin Echols should be considered hits from the 2021 Jets Draft in hindsight. Now, it’s time for Douglas to succeed in the pre-draft portion of the offseason as well.
It is time to identify New York’s top needs. What are their biggest holes heading into the 2022 offseason in both free agency and the draft?
Help for Zach Wilson
The Jets unequivocally need to walk into 2022 with two or three new tight ends. That room has been a disaster for a long time. Their last quality NFL tight end was Anthony Becht, and his last snap for the Jets was in 2004.
New York runs an offense that is predicated on establishing the run and would like to employ multiple tight end sets. So, the club is going to have to completely rebuild that unit to make the offense productive. Dalton Schultz is likely to be a free agent and Trey McBride is the top option in the draft.
The Jets right now have one quality NFL wide receiver, and he will be going into his second season. Elijah Moore is clearly the team’s No. 1 WR. Moreover, if Corey Davis can fix the drop issues he had in 2021, that would help tremendously, and Braxton Berrios is a good gadget wide receiver.
Robert Saleh’s team needs a clear second option, one that Zach Wilson can rely on. That will likely come in the draft. Garrett Wilson, Treylon Burks, and Jahan Dotson are clear options in the top-40, and a trade for current Falcons WR Calvin Ridley is something that could be on the table, for the right price.
This is an overlooked need for the Jets. The Jets need a true second-string back for this team and not just another outside zone runner like Ty Johnson and Michael Carter. They need the bruiser who can also be a third-down back who blocks. They need the “thunder” in a “thunder and lightning” backfield.
Thanks to the previous regime’s ineptitude when it came to this area, NYJ not only still needs a starter or two. They also need quality depth. The Jets need to enter the month of May with three or four offensive linemen — getting them from both free agency and the draft.
Good linemen are hard to find. However, that’s the specialty of Joe Douglas, being a former lineman himself. The Jets cannot go into 2022 hoping the whole line stays healthy for the entire season due to a lack of depth.
Improve the defense
This is the biggest issue on defense. The scheme relies on edge rushers to help the defensive backs. They need to get pressure on the quarterback, and it starts there. Whether it be signing a free agent or getting one early in the draft, the Jets undoubtedly need a second edge rusher opposite (hopefully) a returning and healthy Carl Lawson.
The defense is predicated on winning upfront with just four. The Jets would prefer not to blitz a lot. So they need linebackers who can stop the run and cover. The preference would be to get one in free agency so they aren’t forced to take one in the draft. However, early on, if they cannot land a free agent, there are two good options.
Much like the tight end position, this group needs an overhaul, but thankfully not quite as bad as the tight ends. The team definitely needs two starters, but Jason Pinnock might save the Jets from needing a complete overhaul after his shift from cornerback. The best-case scenario would be to land a free agent and then draft one on Day Two or Day Three of the 2022 NFL Draft.
The current cornerbacks of the Jets performed on a much higher level than they were expected to. If New York can drastically improve its pass rush, this cornerback group would be much better. That said, they do need some quality depth or even one more starting-caliber player.
This is the easiest one to talk about. The Jets’ poor kicker situation is well-documented. The reason this is the easiest one to discuss is that there’s no draft pick or free agent to be signed. The Jets just need to bring back Eddy Piñeiro.
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