Rumors circulate regarding New York Jets’ draft plans
It’s Senior Bowl week in Mobile. With a multitude of league insiders descended upon one location, that means it’s time for rumors to start spreading like wildfire.
Many of the rumors that have begun to spread are focused upon the New York Jets. After all, with New York’s coaching staff in town to lead the Senior Bowl’s National team, Gang Green has been at the centerpiece of the Mobile rumor mill.
ESPN’s Rich Cimini shared an interesting tidbit on Thursday evening. Cimini reports that it sounds like the Jets’ top priorities in the 2022 NFL draft will be the following four position groups: defensive line, offensive line, safety, and wide receiver.
From talking to people/listening to scuttlebutt, it sounds like #Jets draft priorities are DL, OL, S, WR. They like TE class a lot, but I think they could go that way in free agency.
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) February 3, 2022
Cimini adds that while the Jets like the draft’s tight end class, New York may address that position in free agency. On the free agent market, Dallas’ Dalton Schultz would be an excellent Plan A target for New York, while David Njoku and Maxx Williams come to mind as strong Plan B options.
The four position groups mentioned by Cimini cover a large portion of the roster, but they leave two positions as notable omissions: linebacker and cornerback.
Putting the linebacker and cornerback units on the backburner would not be anything new for general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh. Over the past two offseasons, the Jets did not sign any starting linebackers or starting cornerbacks to multi-year contracts nor did they draft any linebackers or cornerbacks prior to the fifth round.
New York appears confident in its ability to develop linebacker talent without investing premium assets into the position. Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich have extensive backgrounds as linebackers coaches and have coached non-first-round picks like Fred Warner and Deion Jones to stardom.
C.J. Mosley is a near-lock to start for the Jets at linebacker once more in 2022. Quincy Williams is the incumbent starter beside Mosley, although the Jets can improve in that spot due to Williams’ inconsistency. New York also has Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen waiting in the wings – two developmental third-day draft selections in 2021 who converted from the safety position.
If the Jets again decide not to invest premium assets into the cornerback position, it would be a continuation of the inside-out team-building philosophy that Saleh and Douglas have preached. Both men have consistently stated that they prioritize strengthening the offensive and defensive lines first and foremost.
Saleh reiterated this philosophy when speaking to reporters at the Senior Bowl on Wednesday. He said of the defensive line, “It’s the one group that makes everyone better on defense and it’s the one group that can take away everybody on offense.”
"We're always going to want to improve that group."
Coach Saleh on adding to the D-Line this offseason. pic.twitter.com/ek8dXnvap7
— New York Jets (@nyjets) February 2, 2022
The Jets’ starting cornerback trio in 2021 was comprised of three homegrown late-round picks: 2020 fifth-round pick Bryce Hall, 2021 fifth-round pick Michael Carter II, and 2021 sixth-round pick Brandin Echols. It was a unit that held up well relative to expectations but ultimately still left a hefty amount of room for improvement.
Time will tell if New York truly does adhere to its rumored list of top-four draft priorities.