New York Jets NFL Draft Picks & Grades 2022: Three Top First-Round Talents Set the Tone for the Future of the Franchise
The Jets already had an excellent offseason with several high-value free agency signings that helped round out the roster. In the draft, the Jets looked to add potential superstars on both sides of the ball. They ultimately had four picks in the first 36 selections of the draft, and they did their best to add potential franchise-altering talent. This article will include a full draft recap for the Jets featuring analysis and grades for each selection.
New York Jets Draft Picks 2022
Round 1 No. 4 CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner
Round 1 No. 10 WR Garrett Wilson
Round 1 No. 26 DE Jermaine Johnson
Round 2 No. 36 RB Breece Hall
Round 3 No. 101 TE Jeremy Ruckert
Round 4 No. 111 OT Max Mitchell
Round 4 No. 117 DE Micheal Clemons
Overall Draft Grade: A-
The Jets made an effort to continue to add talent around second-year quarterback Zach Wilson while bolstering their defense at all three levels. Ahmad Gardner has the chance to become one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, while Jermaine Johnson’s well-developed pass-rush tool kit and excellent athletic traits will make him a perfect fit for Robert Saleh’s defense. Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall help round out what could be one of the most improved offenses in the NFL.
New York didn’t have many draft picks on Days 2 and 3 following their first four selections, but they did well to add some solid talent. Jeremy Ruckert provides an in-line blocking and underneath receiving element to their renewed tight end room. Max Mitchell is a very intriguing swing tackle and insurance policy for Mekhi Becton. Micheal Clemons provides toughness and physicality to the front seven.
The Jets likely added four high-level starters and three more high-level depth pieces and potential starters. That puts this draft firmly in the A range, and the only thing keeping it at an A- is I didn’t love the value they got in their trades. Still, the Jets are in a much better position as a franchise than they were before the 2022 NFL Draft.
New York Jets Draft Grades 2022
Round: 1 Pick: 4 / Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
I fully expected the Jets to take an edge rusher or offensive tackle with this pick, but Ahmad Gardner wound up the selection. Gardner has very few weaknesses in his game, and he’s an ideal fit for Robert Saleh’s defense. His production profile is elite, with just a 43% completion rate allowed over his three seasons at Cincinnati, and he never allowed a touchdown in coverage per Pro Football Focus (PFF). In 2021, he allowed just 131 yards in 14 games, including just three catches for 14 yards on 34 coverage snaps against Alabama in the College Football Playoff. Gardner is one of the safest prospects in this draft, but he also has the upside to become one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.
Highest graded Cornerbacks in single coverage during the PFF era (since 2014)
1️⃣ Paulson Adebo: 93.0
2️⃣ Ahmad Gardner: 91.1
3️⃣ Marcus Jones: 90.6
4️⃣ Derek Stingley Jr: 90.2 pic.twitter.com/oLHzSigQRB
— PFF College (@PFF_College) April 24, 2022
Round: 1 Pick: 10 / Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
The Jets were always going to take a wide receiver in this spot, and it’s easy to see why they targeted Wilson. The Ohio State product was my WR3 simply because he doesn’t possess the game-breaking deep speed of Jameson Williams or the physical contested-catch power of Drake London, but he’s a great fit for Mike LaFleur’s offense. At just 5’11”, 183 lbs, Wilson doesn’t quite have the physical strength to beat press consistently on the outside. That’s ok, though, as Elijah Moore and Corey Davis will play on the outside while Wilson can beat defenders with elite separation and a massive catch radius with a 36” vertical. Once he has the ball in his hands, look out – Wilson is the best YAC player in this draft. He can become an all-around elite wide receiver as he polishes his route-running and develops a package to beat press.
✅ Route Running
✅ Catch Radius
Garrett Wilson has it all ✈️ pic.twitter.com/fENsIV96EW
— PFF (@PFF) May 10, 2022
Round: 1 Pick: 26 / Jermaine Johnson, DE, Florida State
One of the biggest smoke screens leading up to draft week was the hype around Jermaine Johnson, and it got to the point that there were rumors of the Jets drafting him as soon as No. 4. Well, it appears there was some truth to those rumors, as the Jets were reportedly calling every team after around pick 15 trying to make a trade up for him. They finally got it done at the No. 26 pick, and Johnson is an ideal fit for the Robert Saleh defense that covets edge-rushing talent. Johnson is coming off a career year with 11.5 sacks and 70 tackles (17.5 for loss), and he lit up the Senior Bowl. With Carl Lawson coming off injury and Johnson on the other side of the line, expect the Jets’ pass-rush to be much more impactful this season.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) May 6, 2022
Round: 2 Pick: 36 / Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
Positional value be damned – this is a good pick for the Jets. Outside of perhaps linebacker, there wasn’t a player the Jets could have drafted early in the second round that would be an immediate starter for their team, and Breece Hall can become one of the best running backs in the NFL. His contact balance is very impressive – he led the FBS with 194 broken tackles over the past three seasons per PFF. His productivity and durability at Iowa State are remarkable as he touched the ball more than any running back over the past two seasons and avoided major injury. He also has a three-down skill set with consistent pass-protecting and pass-catching productivity. Hall is an elite athlete to boot with a 9.96 RAS, and there are very few holes to pick in his game. For a Jets team that didn’t have a consistent producer in the backfield, this is an excellent pick that only dips to a B+ due to the trade-up that was required to make it happen.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) May 2, 2022
Round: 3 Pick: 101 / Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State
After having perhaps the worst tight end room in the NFL last season, the Jets made an effort to rectify that position group. C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin were signed in the offseason, but both are more big-play receiving threats than traditional in-line blockers at the position. Ruckert is the latter, as his 14 big-time run blocks ranked third in the FBS over the last two years per PFF. Ruckert also has reliable hands with only two drops on 56 catchable targets at Ohio State. He may not be an elite downfield receiver, but he can be a high-level blocker and underneath safety blanket for Zach Wilson. It makes it all the sweeter for the Jets that he’s a hometown hero from Long Island who grew up a diehard Jets fan.
This behind the scenes video from Jeremy Ruckert’s girlfriend, Robyn is fantastic.
— Matt O'Leary (@MattOLearyNY) May 1, 2022
Round: 4 Pick: 111 / Max Mitchell, OT, Louisiana
Early in the pre-draft process, I started to see Mitchell as a potential Day 2 player with his high-level collegiate production, but his underwhelming combine limited his draft profile. He finished with a 5.55 RAS while testing in the 38th percentile with a brutally slow 5.32-second 40-yard dash and the 19th percentile with an 8.09-second 3-cone drill. That lack of athleticism is highly concerning for a tackle who weighed in at 307 lbs. Still, Mitchell only allowed 13 pressures on 430 pass-blocking snaps per PFF and handled himself well at the Senior Bowl. With Mekhi Becton’s concerning medical status and George Fant becoming a free agent after this season, it makes sense to add depth. Mitchell’s pass-protection prowess makes for a fascinating addition to the New York offense.
Max Mitchell: 93.1 overall grade since 2019. 4th highest among all OTs in College Football💪 pic.twitter.com/unCHhZu0bA
— PFF NY Jets (@PFF_Jets) May 8, 2022
Round: 4 Pick: 117 / Micheal Clemons, DE, Texas A&M
At a media availability last week, Micheal Clemons was asked the best way to get his NFL opponents to respect him. His response was legendary: “You make a guy quickly respect you when you hit a guy in the mouth over and over again.” Robert Saleh confirmed Clemons’s mean streak – “when [Clemons] puts the helmet on, he goes to a very dark place. And it reflects in his play in the effort and violence with which he does it.” Clemons may not be the most explosive player off the edge, but the Jets coveted his strength, physicality, and nasty demeanor. With Johnson and Clemons joining Lawson and John Franklin-Myers, Saleh finally has an edge rotation in New York that can replicate the dominant edge corps that helped his San Francisco defenses thrive.
Micheal Clemons: not a big fan of quarterbacks 😲 pic.twitter.com/i5Gn1gaV8d
— New York Jets UK (@NYJetsinUK) May 8, 2022