New York Jets focus on defense in seven-round mock draft
With the New York Jets‘ biggest free agency moves in the rearview, we now have a better idea of how the draft could go.
In the first half of this mock, some key needs throughout the roster are addressed with strong value picks. Later on, developmental prospects are added to the offensive side of the ball for Zach Wilson to grow with.
Let’s get into this seven-round mock draft for the Jets.
Round 1, Pick 4: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
The Jets selecting star pass-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux with the fourth overall pick is the dream scenario. Thibodeaux is one of the best prospects in the 2022 draft class and plays a premium position.
Physically, Thibodeaux has the frame to play on the edge at 6-foot-4 and 254 pounds. He plays with great speed getting off the snap which showed up at the combine (4.58 40-yard, 1.59 10-yard split). Along with his speed, Thibodeaux can covert to power as a pass rusher.
In 30 games at Oregon over the last three years, Thibodeaux recorded 19 sacks and 35.5 tackles for loss. Thibodeaux not only rushes the passer at a high level but can play the run well on the edge.
From a talent standpoint, Thibodeaux has most of the traits a team can ask for.
Round 1, Pick 10: Drake London, WR, USC
With no big-time veteran starting wide receiver added during this free agency period, it would be smart of the Jets to invest in the position here.
Drake London is a gifted prospect who just had a dominant year (88 catches, 1,084 receiving yards, and seven touchdowns in eight games). He has the size the Jets could use (6-foot-3, 219 lbs).
For someone as big as he is, London has quick footwork with his releases where he is efficient against press coverage. From there, he runs good routes.
The two most tantalizing aspects of London’s game are his contested-catch ability and his ability to get yards after the catch, the latter of which being an important trait in Mike LaFleur’s offense.
With his massive frame, London can high-point the football and come down with it in 50-50 situations. With the football in his hands, he will use his strength to work through contact and beat defenders.
London played his best on the outside but has the versatility to line up in the slot. He is a young prospect who will only turn 21 in July.
An ideal scheme fit who brings a needed jump-ball threat for Zach Wilson, London would be a great way for the Jets to land on their feet at wide receiver after missing out on the big-name veterans.
Round 2, Pick 35: Travis Jones, DT, Connecticut
During this free agency period, the Jets lost a core player in Folorunso Fatukasi. There was a multitude of quality run-stopping defensive tackles available on the market but the Jets opted not to pursue any of them.
Travis Jones is a promising prospect who has boosted his stock throughout the pre-draft process. This is the point of the draft where he is set to be picked.
Jones has the size (6-foot-4, 325 lbs) needed to occupy space up front and stop the run. Throughout his three years of college, Jones totaled 19 tackles for loss. He ran an impressive 4.92 40-yard dash at the combine and does offer enticing one-gap ability as a pass rusher in the Jets’ attacking front. He recorded eight sacks over the last two years.
It would be thrilling for the Jets to add two young and talented defensive linemen early in Thibodeaux and Jones.
Round 2, Pick 38: Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
The Jets continue to add to their cornerback group. Kyler Gordon is coming off an impressive 2021 season and is slated to be picked in this range.
What makes Gordon such an intriguing prospect to draft early in the second round is his ability to be successful in both man and zone coverage. He possesses the size (5-foot-11, 194 lbs) and speed (4.52) to hold his own on the outside.
Last season, Gordon had two interceptions and seven passes defended in 12 games. Athletically, Gordon is gifted and he uses his movement ability to his advantage in coverage. Along with newly acquired cornerback D.J. Reed, Gordon plays the run effectively as a willing tackler.
Bolstering the depth and adding competition at cornerback with more youth would likely benefit the Jets as the defense must improve drastically.
Round 3, Pick 69: Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
The mid-round depth at linebacker in the 2022 draft class is tremendous. Here, the Jets add what they need at the position: a coverage specialist.
Chad Muma played defensive back before making the move to linebacker in college. He has the speed (4.63) and production (three interceptions in 2021) to give the Jets linebacker group a different skillset.
Along with his strengths in pass coverage, Muma does play the run efficiently on early downs and has had pass-rushing success (5.5 sacks the last three years). Muma has the frame (6-foot-3, 248 lbs) and play strength to contribute against the run where the Jets struggled last season.
Muma would be a great selection for the Jets here. A haul defensively to all three levels with Thibodeaux, Jones, Gordon, and Muma could pay dividends for the unit right away.
Round 4, Pick 111: Cade Otton, TE, Washington
Here the Jets add a third tight end which will be necessary with the expected amount of 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR) that Mike LaFleur will integrate.
Cade Otton is a fascinating prospect who should grow if placed in a better situation moving forward.
First, Otton gives great effort as a blocker and can be impactful as a blocking tight end in LaFleur’s offense.
The lack of receiving production from Otton comes as a result of his target amount. Over the four years of his college career (31 games), Otton never got more than 43 targets in a season. He did catch 73.9% of his career targets, though, also scoring nine touchdowns.
Pairing Otton with C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin would improve the Jets tight end group in a big way.
Round 4, Pick 117: Matt Waletzko, OT, North Dakota
The Jets have two starting tackles to feel good about in George Fant and Mekhi Becton. After them though, there is a concern.
It is fair to expect a mid-round selection to be spent on a third offensive tackle. At this point in the draft, taking a chance on upside with athleticism is always logical with offensive tackles.
Athletically speaking, Matt Waletzko is off the charts. His Relative Athletic Score from the combine was 9.9 out of 10 with elite grades for his 40-yard dash (5.03) and broad jump (nine feet, five inches). He is very tall with some size (6-foot-8, 312 lbs). Waletzko is long as well (36 1/8″ arms).
Waletzko played against lower-level competition but still did his job. PFF gave him an 80.6 grade for 2021. He has had success as a pass blocker with no sacks allowed over the last two years.
The traits are there for Waletzko to improve and be a potential long-term piece to the offensive line.
Round 5, Pick 146: Jerome Ford, RB, Cincinnati
Jerome Ford would complement Michael Carter well in the backfield for years to come.
Ford just had a dominant year of production (1,319 yards rushing, 6.1 yards per carry, and 19 rushing touchdowns). It was only his first year in a featured role so he is a running back without too much mileage.
The size (5-foot-10, 210 lbs) and speed (4.46) Ford has is an impressive combination and needed in the Jets backfield. Ford can be a big-play threat when given opportunities. He can also help in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
Adding a second back to Carter should be a focus in this draft. Ford’s skillset would perfectly match the contact balance, quickness, and passing game contributor Carter is.
Round 5, Pick 163: Bo Melton, WR, Rutgers
The Jets add another skill player with speed, this time to the wide receiver group.
Bo Melton was in a tough situation at Rutgers but the production he did have from his chances along with his talent give him room to grow and be impactful. Over the last two years, Melton had 102 catches, 1,256 receiving yards, and nine receiving touchdowns.
Melton offers versatility for Mike LaFleur in the slot, with pre-snap motioning, and even as a runner. He had 25 carries over the last four years go for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Melton has blazing 4.34 speed, quickness, and can run routes well.
To add young depth to round out the wide receiver core would be smart. Melton has the upside to grow and be a contributor for the Jets over time.
- Round 1, Pick 4: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
- Round 1, Pick 10: Drake London, WR, USC
- Round 2, Pick 35: Travis Jones, DT, Connecticut
- Round 2, Pick 38: Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
- Round 3, Pick 69: Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
- Round 4, Pick 111: Cade Otton, TE, Washington
- Round 4, Pick 117: Matt Waletzko, OT, North Dakota
- Round 5, Pick 146: Jerome Ford, RB, Cincinnati
- Round 5, Pick 163: Bo Melton, WR, Rutgers