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Analyzing the New York Jets’ 2022 NFL draft plan at the running back position

The 2022 NFL draft has solid running back depth, as most classes do. It would be ideal for the New York Jets to continue to acquire more youth at the position in less than two weeks.

In each of his first two drafts with the Jets, general manager Joe Douglas spent a fourth-round selection on a running back, taking La’Mical Perine in 2020 and Michael Carter in 2021. With the way this draft’s talent pool is shaping up, there is a good possibility the Jets will select another running back on the draft’s third day.

There are quality running back prospects set to be available in the fourth and fifth rounds of the draft. Pair that with the four total picks the Jets have on the third day of the draft, and the Jets could very well be adding another new rookie running back.

Currently, the Jets can feel great about Carter in a significant role. Re-signing Tevin Coleman to be the third back of the group was a good move. Giving Carter a running mate for years to come should be a goal for the Jets in this draft.

Top-tier prospects

Breece Hall (Iowa State) and Kenneth Walker (Michigan State) are by most accounts the consensus top two running backs in this draft. Neither one seems like a realistic option for the Jets though.

Hall could go as early as the late first round. Even if he is available with either of the Jets’ two early second-round selections, it is probably unlikely they look to invest in a running back at that stage of the draft.

Walker will likely come off the board as early as the mid-second round and as late as the mid-third round. The only selection the Jets currently have in that range is an early third (69th overall). Once again, it is unlikely the Jets would invest in a running back that early.

The other top running back who will probably be off the board by the time the Jets pick in the fourth round is Isaiah Spiller (Texas A&M).

Fourth and fifth-round options

The Jets will have many chances to select a running back between their fourth and fifth-round draft picks. They have selections 111 and 117 in round four along with 146 and 163 in round five. Here are some of the top options expected to still be on the board at those points:

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

Brian Robinson (Alabama)

Brian Robinson is likely to be the first player of this group to come off the board and would probably have to be taken in the fourth round if the Jets want him.

Robinson provides ample size (6-foot-1, 225 lbs) and even offers solid speed at that size (4.53 40-yard).

The 2021 season was Robinson’s first in a featured role (over 100 carries). He delivered big-time on 271 carries with 1,343 rushing yards (5.0 per carry) and 14 touchdowns. He also recorded 35 receptions.

Zamir White (Georgia)

Zamir White could be taken in the fourth or fifth round. He offers good size (5-foot-11, 215 lbs) as a power back inside, which the Jets need. At the combine, he ran a 4.40 40-yard dash, proving his speed.

White played in 37 games over his three years at Georgia. Each season, White had at least 5.2 yards per carry. White had 25 rushing touchdowns in total, with 11 in both the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

White was a 2021 team captain for the National Champion Bulldogs. He had a fantastic Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.82 and is only 22 years old.

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Pierre Strong (South Dakota State)

Pierre Strong is another prospect who could be selected in either the fourth or fifth round. Strong is a speed back (4.37 40-yard) who can make a big play at any moment. He still has solid size (5-foot-11, 205 pounds) for a player who is best known as a speedster.

Strong has many of the attributes needed in offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s zone running scheme. He has great vision and one-cut ability.

In all four years of his college career, Strong averaged at least 5.3 yards per carry.

The production put up by Strong in 2021 was incredible (1,673 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns). Strong had a great RAS of 9.34 and visited with the Jets virtually.

Jerome Ford (Cincinnati)

It will be interesting to see where Jerome Ford ends up going off the board, as he’s a tough player to project. He could be taken in the fourth round but it seems possible he could make it to the Jets’ early fifth-round pick.

Ford transferred from Alabama to Cincinnati for the 2021 season to get a starting opportunity. He got his chance and ran with it, posting 1,319 rushing yards on 215 carries (6.1 per rush) and 19 touchdowns.

Ford offers a nice blend of size (5-foot-10, 210 lbs) and speed (4.46). He is 22 years old and would bring some big-play threat ability to the Jets backfield.

Dameon Pierce (Florida)

Dameon Pierce is a fun player to watch. He is built lower to the ground at 5-foot-9, 215 pounds and uses his leverage to his advantage as a runner.

Pierce runs with a ton of power, playing with great toughness and breaking plenty of tackles. He is not the fastest (4.59 40-yard) but showed some promise on his opportunities in the passing game, catching 19 passes for 216 yards (11.6 per reception) and three touchdowns.

Pierce is 22 years old and brings great leadership intangibles that the Jets look for. While he was not given many opportunities as a featured back in Florida’s offense, he still recorded 13 rushing touchdowns and 5.7 yards per carry on 100 attempts in 2021. Pierce is another projected fourth or fifth-round selection.

Tyler Allgeier (BYU)

Tyler Allgeier put up a ton of production the last two years highlighted by a remarkable 23 rushing touchdowns in 2021. He and Zach Wilson were college teammates from 2018 to 2020.

Allgeier is a bigger power back at 225 pounds which is something the Jets could use at running back. He also has the vision needed in the Jets’ zone running scheme.

In each of the last two seasons, Allgeier averaged at least 5.8 yards per carry. He is 22 years old and could be in play rounds four and five.

Passing game contributors

There are a few talented running back prospects in this draft who specialize more in the passing game. They could be potential options for the Jets on day three of the draft.

  • James Cook (Georgia)
  • Kyren Williams (Notre Dame)
  • Tyler Badie (Missouri)

James Cook (Georgia)

James Cook would likely have to be taken in the fourth round by the Jets if he makes it that far. Dalvin’s younger brother is a solid prospect with great receiving upside.

In 2021, Cook had 27 catches for 284 receiving yards (10.5 per reception) and four receiving touchdowns. Cook has 4.42 speed and offers versatility as he can be utilized in the backfield or out wide.

Kyren Williams (Notre Dame)

In terms of pass-blocking running backs in the 2022 NFL Draft, Kyren Williams is arguably the best. As a result of his poor pre-draft athletic testing (3.49 RAS), Williams could end up providing good value for a team in the fifth round.

Williams is a good route-runner who had strong production in the passing game last season (42 catches, 359 receiving yards, and three touchdowns).

Still only 21 years old, Williams is a younger prospect. He was also a team captain for the Fighting Irish.

Tyler Badie (Missouri)

Tyler Badie ranked third among FBS running backs with 54 receptions last year, turning them into 330 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Badie offers 4.45 speed and could still be an impactful contributor as a rusher in addition to his receiving abilities. He had 1,604 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns in 2021. Badie is another possible option in either the fourth or fifth round for the Jets.

Final outlook for the Jets

This draft offers many good choices at the running back position for the Jets. Adding one alongside Michael Carter and Tevin Coleman would give the Jets a formidable backfield trio.

Ultimately, it is fair to expect New York to take one of the mid-round runners between Robinson, White, Strong, Ford, Pierce, and Allgeier. It would be greatly beneficial for Zach Wilson to have one of these young backs alongside Carter for the foreseeable future.

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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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Edward Kirby
Edward Kirby
5 months ago

I question the certainty with which you claim that it’s “unlikely the Jets would invest in a running back that early.”

The team’s offense has a strong OL combined with a weak passing game. They also have a weak defense. Using that OL to power a muscular running attack only requires a premium RB at this point; one that can be acquired with one of those high second round picks. Then, using the overwhelming majority of picks on their defense this year (similar to what Jerry Jones did last year with DAL), they could substantially upgrade the other side of the ball.

In a day and age when half the teams are trading away future picks and/or devoting a third of their cap to two players — the QB and star WR — going old school with the old ground-and-pound could actually get some significant milage.

ncjetsfan
ncjetsfan
5 months ago

Excellent article, but I disagree that Kyren Williams is the best pass-blocking RB in the draft. IMO that honor belongs to Pierre Strong, but Williams is probably #2. To your credit, you did say that he was “arguably the best.” I hope the Jets have zero interest in Robinson. I hope that they take Strong, but others I like are White, Cook, Ford, Badie, Pierce, Allgeier, and Abram Smith.

gpapanj
gpapanj
5 months ago

I think they should draft an RB in the 4th or 5th round. I like Michael Carter, but he needs a partner in the backfield. I don’t think Tevin Coleman is it. He’s often injured. Maybe Robinson or Allgeier for a little more power.

ncjetsfan
ncjetsfan
5 months ago
Reply to  gpapanj

That RB could also be Zamir White, Pierre Strong. or Dameon Pierce.

Jimjets
Jimjets
5 months ago

I like James Cook a lot, but whether it’s him or whoever we HAVE to be able top convert 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 by running. It can’t always be a throw, end around, razzle dazzle or QB sneak, sometimes we have to give a bigger back the ball on short yardage and run the ball up the $%^% middle and gain a damn yard.