Emmanuel Ogbah, David Ojabo, New York Jets
Emmanuel Ogbah, David Ojabo, New York Jets, Getty Images, Jet X Graphic

How can the New York Jets boost their edge-rushing unit?

There is a strong chance the New York Jets will look to acquire a talented edge defender this offseason who can help their pass rush.

In Robert Saleh‘s defense, generating pressure with the front-four is key. Having reliable depth on the defensive line also proved to be vital in the scheme as Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich rotated the unit frequently.

The Jets’ top three defensive ends currently under contract are Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers, and Bryce Huff. Lawson and Huff will both be looking to get back to full health after injuries in 2021.

Adding a star pass-rushing edge can also allow the Jets to utilize Franklin-Myers inside where he had great success in 2020.

With all of that in mind, here are 10 of the best EDGE targets for the Jets between both the free-agent market and the 2022 NFL draft.

10. Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati

Myjai Sanders was productive over the last three years at the University of Cincinnati, totaling 13.5 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss. He is widely projected to be a second-round prospect and could be an option for the Jets with their 35th or 38th selection.

9. Cameron Thomas, San Diego St.

Cameron Thomas had stellar production over the last three seasons and had a huge year in 2021, finishing the season with a career-high 10.5 sacks in addition to 20.5 tackles for loss and 19 quarterback hits. He has a big frame (6-foot-5, 270 pounds) and could offer positional flexibility.

Thomas could be an option for the Jets in the second round.

8. Randy Gregory, Dallas Cowboys

Randy Gregory just completed arguably his best year in the NFL. He finished with six sacks, four tackles for loss, and 17 quarterback hits despite missing five games.

Gregory did turn 29 years old in November, but the former first-round pick has always been talented and seems to have finally hit his potential.

7. Emmanuel Ogbah, Miami Dolphins

Emmanuel Ogbah just had two great years for the Miami Dolphins, finishing with nine sacks and over 20 quarterback hits in each season. Ogbah possesses a big frame on the edge at 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds.

6. Jermaine Johnson, Florida State

As of late, Jermaine Johnson has been a big riser in terms of draft stock.

Johnson had a highly productive 2021 season, his first with Florida State after transferring from Georgia. Johnson totaled 11.5 sacks in 12 games and also had 18 tackles for loss. Johnson has the desired height, weight, and athletic ability at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds.

If the Jets trade down from the 10th pick, Johnson could be in play with a mid-to-late first-round selection.

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5. Harold Landry, Tennessee Titans

Harold Landry played in 64 games the last four years for the Tennessee Titans. He started every game over the last three seasons.

In 2021, Landry had his best year, finishing with 12 sacks and 22 quarterback hits. He has 41 total tackles for loss over his career.

If the Jets feel they may not be able to land a top defensive end in the draft, interest in Landry, Ogbah, or Gregory could be shown in free agency.

4. David Ojabo, Michigan

David Ojabo might have the most upside out of any edge rusher in the upcoming draft.

Ojabo was a junior in 2021 and it was essentially his only year of playing experience after appearing in just one game prior to the year. He played in 14 games and recorded 11 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, and three pass deflections.

New York could possibly consider selecting Ojabo with the 10th overall pick.

3. George Karlaftis, Purdue

George Karlaftis is the youngest prospect among the draft options listed here. He will turn 21 in April.

In three years at Purdue, Karlaftis played in 27 games and had 12.5 sacks to go with 25.5 tackles for loss. Karlaftis has good height and weight (6-foot-4 and 275 pounds) and is known as an excellent power rusher. He also has solid athletic traits for his size. Karlaftis would fit the Jets’ defensive scheme.

Similar to Ojabo, Karlaftis would likely be in consideration at 10 if he is available.

2. Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

Aidan Hutchinson had a dominant 2021 season and took his game to a new level. Some draft scouts in the media believe he is the top player in the draft.

Hutchinson had 14 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss as a senior in 2021. He’s got outstanding power at 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds in addition to good athleticism as well.

Hutchinson would be an option if he makes it to the Jets’ fourth overall selection.

1. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

Kayvon Thibodeaux is probably the best player in the 2022 NFL draft.

Thibodeaux just turned 21 in December. He possesses all the physical traits one could ask for with his height, weight, and speed at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds. He can win as a pass rusher with his power or bend.

On top of his pass-rush ability, Thibodeaux plays the run competitively, too. Over his three years at Oregon, he had 19 sacks and 35.5 tackles for loss.

Thibodeaux being available at four for the Jets would be a dream scenario.

Honorable Mentions

Projected Unrestricted Free Agents

  • Derek Barnett, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Arden Key, San Francisco 49ers
  • Dorance Armstrong, Dallas Cowboys
  • Al-Quadin Muhammad, Indianapolis Colts
  • Charles Harris, Detroit Lions
  • Lorenzo Carter, New York Giants

Draft Prospects

  • Travon Walker, Georgia
  • Drake Jackson, USC
  • Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State
  • Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina

Travon Walker would have been mentioned in the top 10. However, his exact position in the NFL is a question mark. Some evaluators see him possibly playing inside in the NFL.

What to expect

For Jets fans, it is fair to expect one of the draft prospects along with one of the honorable mentions on the pro side. Adding depth would allow for a prospect like Karlaftis, Ojabo, or Johnson to be eased in.

Adding one or even two defensive ends alongside Lawson, Franklin-Myers, and Huff would be great for the Jets’ edge pass rush.

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Ryan Moran is a writer for Jets X-Factor providing in-depth analysis on all things related to the team. Email: ryan.moran310[at]gmail.com
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Jonathan Richter
Jonathan Richter
1 year ago

Chandler Jones?

1 year ago

Good job laying out some of the top options! I’m curious where you think Dante Fowler sits. My sense is that he could be a cheaper addition (~$10-12mm / yr) because of the injury / slowed production in ATL, but also one who’s entering his prime (28 for 2022-23) and has had fantastic years in LA with talented interior rushers, like Quinnen and JFM.

1 year ago
Reply to  Ryan Moran

Very fair, that makes sense — if he was older, I completely agree that he wouldn’t be worth a look. In terms of value, do you think that the $10-12mm range is where he’d end up, or is there a chance he’d settle for something like $16mm / 2 yrs or a smaller prove-it deal?

1 year ago

I disagree with your list. Randy Gregory shouldn’t be on there imo. He has character issues, is older, and I’d be shocked if JD signed him. IMO Jermaine Johnson shouldn’t be on there, either, at least not ahead of Sanders. I don’t think that Karlaftis is #3. He is stiff and has little or no bend/flexibility. I’ve watched film of a lot of his games, and most of the big plays he made were made when he was unblocked. Much of the rest of the time he either runs himself out of the play or the OT easily pushes him upfield out of the play. His motor isn’t consistent, he jogs around a lot. He’s not going to be nearly as effective in the NFL imo. Arnold Ebiketie should be on that list. He’s a bit of a late bloomer, but has the bend, explosiveness, athleticism, and speed to be a topnotch pass rusher. He’ll need to get strong to hold the edge, but I believe he will. After KT and Hutchinson, Ojabo, Ebiketie and Sanders are my favorite prospects. I like Thomas. Along with Hutchinson and Walker, he is great at defending the run, but he isn’t as good a pass rusher as the others.

1 year ago
Reply to  Ryan Moran

Thanks for your response!

1 year ago
Reply to  ncjetsfan

We disagree on Johnson. I think he’s one of the best Edges in the draft. I hope they draft two Edges within the first three rounds. Some good DL play was seen at the Senior Bowl.

1 year ago
Reply to  Psi

My opinion of him could change before the draft. I know that he had a great week at the Sr. Bowl. I haven’t finished watching video of the Edge prospects or reading scouting reports yet. It’s not that I don’t like him, I just like most of the others better based on the game videos I have watched of the different prospects. If that’s who the Jets take, I will root for him like crazy. I’d rather be wrong and the Jets right than vice-versa.

1 year ago

Good list. Ojabo scares me, he’s new to the game and is a bit light. I want no part of Thibodeaux, I watched him a few times and he wasn’t impressive. He seems like a one trick pony. I’ll pass. I think Cameron Thomas should be higher on your list. He’s bigger, versatile and steady. He may not be a “lights out” pass rusher but I think the Jets have to be very cautious of getting too small on the DL. I think they will sign Bennett from Philly. He fits and won’t break the banks. Douglas knows him and I think he’s an upgrade over Phillips as a rotational piece. Overall, Karlaftis is my favorite player (outside Hutchinson), when you take scheme, need and ability. I’m not sure he’s a #4 pick. The combine will be a good indicator. Lots of possibilities.

1 year ago
Reply to  Jets71

Ojabo scares me too, biggest upside, Mark Gastinaue was a one trick pony, but a great trick.