Kayvon Thibodeaux, NY Jets, NFL Draft, Mock
Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon Football, NFL Draft, New York Jets, Getty Images

What is the best outcome for the New York Jets in each draft slot?

The 2022 NFL draft is less than three weeks away. Possessing four picks in the top 38 selections of the draft, the New York Jets have a tremendous opportunity ahead of them.

Following a 2021 draft class that ranked as one of the NFL’s best in its rookie season, expectations are high for general manager Joe Douglas and his scouting department.

In this article, we will power-rank some of the most realistic possibilities for each of the Jets’ first five draft picks.

1. Round 1, Pick 4

  1. Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
  2. Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
  3. Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina St.

With Aidan Hutchinson being essentially a top-two lock, the Jets are all but guaranteed to have at least one of these three players on the board at No. 4.

Kayvon Thibodeaux is a fairly popular pick for most Jets fans at number four. One of the best overall prospects in the draft, Thibodeaux is a big-time talent as an edge defender with great pass-rushing upside. From a value standpoint, Thibodeaux would be the best player the Jets could take with their first pick.

Ahmad Gardner is a tremendous cornerback prospect with a high floor. He is physical and can thrive playing in press coverage. Gardner did not allow one touchdown in coverage throughout his college career. New York’s cornerback unit would immediately improve with the addition of Gardner.

The Jets are basically locked in with their five starting offensive linemen. While Ikem Ekwonu might be the best player in the draft, he would simply be a luxury pick for the Jets, as his role in year one would be unknown. Selecting Ekwonu would be a long-term investment for the Jets.

2. Round 1, Pick 10

  1. WR: Jameson Williams (Alabama)/Drake London (USC)
  2. Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida St.
  3. Trade-Down
  4. Derek Stingley, CB, LSU

A starting wide receiver for Zach Wilson will need to be acquired early in the draft.

Two of the best prospects who could be in play at No. 10 are Jameson Williams and Drake London. Each player boasts strengths that the Jets’ passing game currently lacks. Williams has special speed and deep-threat ability. London excels in contested catch situations thanks to his size, which he also uses to break tackles after the catch.

If the Jets do not end up with Thibodeaux at four, Jermaine Johnson could be the pick at 10 if he makes it that far. Johnson is a great run defender and has the size (6-foot-4, 254 lbs), speed (4.58 40-yard, 1.55 10-yard split), and production (11.5 sacks, 17.5 TFLs in 2021) that teams covet. Being more consistent as a pass rusher is the key to Johnson’s growth in the NFL.

The Jets could trade down at some point in this draft. Doing so at No. 10 might make sense if the Jets do not like the options available to them. Johnson will likely be off the board by then, and New York might not feel comfortable with London or Williams in that spot considering their injury question marks.

This would allow the Jets to find value by moving down to a lesser first-round pick in exchange for premium 2023 draft capital.

The fourth and final option here with the 10th pick is LSU’s talented cornerback prospect, Derek Stingley. Stingley had a generational true-freshman season in 2019 before struggling with injuries and regressed play over his next two seasons. He had a season-ending Lisfranc injury early last year.

Stingley tested well at his Pro Day last Wednesday (4.37 forty) and reminded everyone of his potential.

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3. Round 2, Pick 35

  1. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
  2. FS: Daxton Hill (Michigan)/Jaquan Brisker (Penn St.)
  3. Travis Jones, DT, Connecticut

Similar to Elijah Moore last year, there will be a surprise first-round talent that falls into the early second round for the Jets.

If Nakobe Dean falls because of size concerns, which seems much more possible now than it did in previous months, the Jets should undoubtedly take him as the best player available at 35. Dean is a fast linebacker who can make plays all over the field. The Jets would be wise to address linebacker for the long-term and selecting Dean would accomplish just that.

Pairing up Jordan Whitehead with a free safety in the same offseason would be exciting. Georgia’s Lewis Cine is a great choice to fill that need, although it’s becoming increasingly unlikely Cine will make it out of the first round.

However, Daxton Hill and Jaquan Brisker are solid options. Hill is an outstanding athlete with versatility. Brisker had a well-rounded year last season (six tackles for loss, five passes defended, two interceptions).

Finding a run-stopping nose tackle in the draft would be smart for the Jets. Travis Jones is a great fit. Jones has the size to plug holes and fill space (6-foot-4, 325 lbs) and also ran a terrific 40-yard dash (4.92), giving him one-gap ability as a pass rusher to fit the Jets’ scheme.

4. Round 2, Pick 38

  1. BPA: If any player listed above at 35 is available
  2. CB: Andrew Booth (Clemson)/Kaiir Elam (Florida)/Kyler Gordon (Washington)
  3. Trade-Down
  4. LB: Leo Chenal (Wisconsin)/Chad Muma (Wyoming)/Christian Harris (Alabama)

With only two picks between 35 and 38 for the Jets, there is a chance one of the four players highlighted at 35 could even fall to 38.

A cornerback could be in play early in the second round for the Jets. Out of the three listed above, Kyler Gordon seems like the one with the greatest chance of making it to this spot. Gordon has the potential to succeed in both man and zone coverage.

Kaiir Elam has a great combo of height (6-foot-1) and speed (4.39). Andrew Booth is gifted athletically and can play in press coverage.

If the Jets make all of their first three picks at their current placement, trading down at 38 would make sense. The value on a player may not add up at this point. As stated above, accumulating 2023 draft capital is an enticing idea.

If the Jets are not able to add Dean or any linebacker at 35, it could be addressed here. The likely top three players available will be Leo Chenal, Chad Muma, and Christian Harris.

Chenal would bolster the Jets’ run defense. Muma is a complete linebacker and particularly strong in coverage. Harris offers potential through his speed (4.44 40-yard dash) and athletic ability (9.04 Relative Athletic Score).

5. Round 3, Pick 69

  1. FS: Nick Cross (Maryland)/Kerby Joseph (Illinois)
  2. LB: Troy Andersen (Montana St.)/Brian Asamoah (Oklahoma)
  3. OT: Abraham Lucas (Washington St.)/Darian Kinnard (Kentucky)

Joe Douglas may not be able to address both linebacker and free safety with the early four picks. One of those positions may be taken here.

Nick Cross is a true free safety with a ton of upside. Cross has a great blend of size (6-foot, 212 lbs) and speed (4.34 40-time), giving him excellent range as a single-high safety.

Kerby Joseph has height (6-foot-1) and length (33″ arms) to patrol the backend and make plays on the football. Joseph recorded five interceptions in 2021.

At linebacker, if one of Chenal, Muma, or Harris falls here, they would be thrilling to add. If not, Troy Andersen and Brian Asamoah are two prime options. Andersen ran a blazing 40-yard dash (4.42) at the combine. Asamoah does not possess imposing size but is athletic and plays fast.

The Jets currently need a third offensive tackle behind George Fant and Mekhi Becton. If Ekwonu is not drafted at four, this is likely the earliest point the position could be taken care of.

Abraham Lucas has a massive frame (6-foot-6, 315 lbs, 33 7/8″ arms) with elite athleticism (9.73 Relative Athletic Score). In 2021, Lucas did not allow a sack and earned a PFF grade of 78.6.

Darian Kinnard is a big and physical player with positional versatility. He’d be a fit for Mike LaFleur’s running scheme.

Day Three

On day three of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Jets have four total picks. They own two fourth-round selections (111, 117) and two in the fifth (146, 163).

With most of the first five picks likely to go to the defense, adding depth to the offense to finish the draft would be ideal.

As always, there are running backs who will be available to pair up with Michael Carter. Having Tevin Coleman on the roster can allow a rookie running back to be eased in early on. A few good options at this position are:

  • Brian Robinson (Alabama)
  • Pierre Strong (South Dakota State)
  • Zamir White (Georgia)
  • Jerome Ford (Cincinnati)
  • Dameon Pierce (Florida)

Even with a wide receiver selected at the top of the draft, improving the depth at the position later on in the draft should be a must. Some notable possibilities include:

  • Justyn Ross (Clemson)
  • Kyle Philips (UCLA)
  • Bo Melton (Rutgers)
  • Reggie Roberson (SMU)
  • Danny Gray (SMU)

Rounding out the depth at tight end behind Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah would be a perfect way to close the draft. A handful of intriguing prospects who could be available on day three include:

  • Cade Otton (Washington)
  • Jake Ferguson (Wisconsin)
  • Charlie Kolar (Iowa State)
  • Daniel Bellinger (San Diego State)

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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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Richard Hausig
Richard Hausig
5 months ago

I like my 1s and 2s to be from big schools but Sauce seems like a player. Is 4 too high? I dont know. But for me a shut down CB can really help make the pass rush better too.

cole
cole
5 months ago

Great breakdown, and fingers crossed that the board falls our way! Regarding 35 / 38, I’ve recently started to think more about Andrew Booth (or Roger McReary) fitting in at FS — do you think that’d change / improve his value at all? Just feels like Booth especially has great ball skills and zone ability to play a CF-style role.

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
5 months ago

Unless Seattle changes thier minds about Metscalf, the should be rebuilding #10 has to be a receiver. Prefer Garret Wilson or London in that order.
Giving away Robbie Anderson cost us versatility with this pick. JD is fixing a mess left by the last 2 guys.
Thibadeux seems like the guy at 4. That Cincinatti win might have cost us Hutchinson.
I see this as a 2 year plan to playoffs so if we can get Hutch if passed on ny Jax at number 2, a 2nd and 4th would be worth it. Only gets done if Lions consider Thibs in same class.
Definitely LB with 2nd round followed by cb s rb depending on if a deal for #2 on draft day happens.
Can’t make the trade to 2 if Huchinson is gone at 1.

Jimjets
Jimjets
5 months ago

Intriguing. As a fan for going on 45 years now I get very concerned when there’s a lot of smoke about a player who doesn’t love football and is more interested in money and being a star than playing the game. For that reason I prefer Jermaine Johnson as the first edge rusher we take and the best available receiver at 10. I like a lot of your other theories except that I’m not as interested in 2023 draft capital as extra picks this year.

Jimjets
Jimjets
5 months ago
Reply to  Jimjets

Since I’m bored. Here’s the draft I want

Jermaine Johnson
Best WR. MAYBE trade down a few spots for something this year and take best WR
Best LB. Muma?
Run stuffer out of Connecticut
Kerby Joseph
Greg Dulcich
Best runner available. James Cook
Ol depth piece
Bo Melton