The New York Jets had a busy free agency period. They landed a top cornerback and WILL LB/SS for this system on defense, and on offense, they landed two bonafide receiving tight ends as well as their right guard for the foreseeable future.
As Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh continue to build this team in their image and one that wins going forward (and finally breaks the playoff drought), the 2022 NFL Draft is the next step to fill the remaining holes. What should the Jets do to upgrade the roster? Let’s dive in.
1.04 (Fourth Overall)
Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
The Jets haven’t had a dominant edge rusher since John Abraham. Here’s how the Jets depth chart projects for Week 1 at edge rusher:
5T: John Franklin-Myers, Solomon Thomas, Kyle Phillips
9T: Carl Lawson, Jacob Martin, Bryce Huff
The best place to use Franklin-Myers is inside, and occasionally splitting him out to 5T. So, adding a player like Johnson with his combination of speed, power, and athleticism gives the Jets more flexibility.
Adding Johnson gives them an edge rusher to play both 9T (mostly there for Johnson) and 5T. The Jets like to mix and match defensive ends, using both 9T and 5T on the weak side. Drafting Johnson allows for the Jets to move JFM back inside more often.
Here’s how the Jets depth chart projects for Week 1 at edge rusher with Johnson:
5T: Jermaine Johnson, Solomon Thomas, Kyle Phillips
9T: Carl Lawson, Jermaine, Johnson, Jacob Martin, Bryce Huff
1.10 (Tenth Overall)
Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
There’s a prevailing thought that teams win upfront on defense in the NFL. However, according to Pro Football Reference’s advanced stats, around seven out of every ten times, even the best teams in the league (since 2018) didn’t get pressure.
Best pressure rates (since 2018)
The teams that won those Super Bowls all were in the top-five in interceptions as well. That tells me that you need to cover well and take the ball away for ultimate success.
According to DJ Bien-Aime of the New York Daily News, “One guy told me he had an offensive coordinator come up to him after the game and tell him that ‘we were going after 37 because we knew he doesn’t have any ball skills, and we knew that he wasn’t going to intercept the ball. So if we go at him and we get an incompletion, we’re cool with that because we know it’s not going to turn into a turnover,’”
Bryce Hall was the only cornerback targeted at least 100 times in 2021 that recorded zero interceptions. That’s where Gardner comes in. Not only will he make plays knocking down the ball. He will get turnovers as well.
The Jets play a lot of zone coverage. This is Gardner’s strong suit.
2.03 (35th Overall)
Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
There are three things that Hill brings to the Jets:
1) Straight-line speed: this would allow him to become a key contributor on special teams immediately as a gunner.
2) Range: He can easily play centerfield in the Jets Cover-3, and with the signing of Jordan Whitehead, that’s exactly what the Jets need.
3) Versatility: Hill can play three different positions in the backfield for the Jets’ defense: free safety, slot corner, and outside corner
2.06 (38th Overall)
Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
Imagine finding a receiver in the second round that checks all of the boxes your team is looking for in a receiver
Deep threat ✅
Can consistently win contested catches ✅
Run Blocker in the wide zone ✅
Watson is a great compliment to Elijah Moore, who, with Watson on the field, would give the Jets two versatile weapons in the passing game.
3.05 (69th Overall)
Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
Muma is the finishing piece to upgrading the Jets coverage unit. He’s a downhill player against the run, but when it comes to the Cover-3 defense, he has the right combination of football IQ and range to handle the middle part of the field from the SAM LB position.
4.06 (111th Overall)
Cole Strange, G/C, Chattanooga
When he was invited to the Senior Bowl, Strange took on something he hadn’t done in his college career. He played center, and that only helps his draft stock. Him playing center also helps the Jets kill two birds with one stone.
The Jets need depth on the interior offensive line at guard, and that’s where Strange will begin. He can also develop as a center to eventually take over if the Jets let Connor McGovern walk. He has the combination of strength and athleticism necessary to be a successful interior lineman in this system.
4.12 (117th Overall)
Cade Otton, TE, Washinton
The Jets need to add a tight end in this draft. C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin are average blockers for the position. So, they need to add a tight end that provides them with better blocking while also disguising pass vs. run. That’s what Otton does.
He’s not the YAC threat the others are, but he’s sure-handed and will help keep the offense moving. His biggest asset is his blocking, though. The Jets want to build the offense off of the run, and that’s where Otton comes in.