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

It is widely expected that the New York Jets will address their defense early in the 2022 NFL draft with a premier edge defender.

This draft class is top-heavy at the position with four potential top-10 picks.

Currently, the Jets are in a good place at defensive end. Carl Lawson and Bryce Huff will both be coming back healthy. In free agency, Joe Douglas signed Jacob Martin to a three-year deal.

Adding another starter with great potential opposite of Lawson could not only put this defensive line over the top but the defensive unit as a whole.

Below, we will discuss the top prospects the Jets could land early on, along with some of the mid-round depth options.

Top-10 prospects

There are four premium edge defenders in the 2022 draft class. Three of them could realistically be in play for the Jets with the fourth overall pick.

  • Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan)
  • Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon)
  • Travon Walker (Georgia)
  • Jermaine Johnson (Florida State)

There is a slim chance Aidan Hutchinson is available with the fourth pick. In the end, he will probably be selected by the second pick at the latest.

Kayvon Thibodeaux

If Kayvon Thibodeaux is available for the Jets at four, he should be the pick. The chances he is there are good.

Thibodeaux is an exciting prospect. He would bring some needed size (6-foot-4, 254 lbs) to the edge position for the Jets.

Speed is a top trait of Thibodeaux’s game. His 10-yard split time (1.56) proves his first-step explosiveness. Thibodeaux finished his 40-yard dash with an impressive time of 4.58. The Relative Athletic Score (RAS) recorded by Thibodeaux was a great one at 9.63.

Thibodeaux has good bend and dip turning the corner getting after the quarterback. He plays the run well on the edge. Once he has a consistent pass rush plan, Thibodeaux can be an outstanding edge defender.

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Travon Walker

Travon Walker could be off the board by the time the Jets pick. He might even be picked first. Ultimately, it seems like he will be taken in the top three.

If he is available at four for the Jets, Walker is more of a projection pick. He totaled 9.5 sacks in his three years of college football.

The upside with Walker is tremendous. His RAS was a 9.99. He possesses a massive frame (6-foot-5, 272 lbs, 35 1/2″ arm length) and recorded elite times in the 10-yard split (1.54) and 40-yard dash (4.51).

Walker is a solid run defender. For him to reach his potential, he must learn to use his physical tools to his advantage as a pass rusher.

Jermaine Johnson

Out of these top prospects, Jermaine Johnson is the one the Jets would be better off taking with the 10th pick. Johnson would be in consideration at 10 if the Jets end up taking a non-EDGE at four, such as Ahmad Gardner or Ikem Ekwonu.

Johnson had a breakout season in 2021 with 11.5 sacks. He has a solid frame (6-foot-4, 254 lbs, and 34″ arms). Johnson showed great speed while running at the combine (1.59 10-yard split, 4.58 40-yard dash).

Currently, Johnson’s biggest strength as a player is his run defense. As a pass rusher, there is room for growth. With his athletic ability (9.22 RAS), Johnson has the potential to improve as he gets more reps.

Tier-two prospects

New York will likely address the edge position at four. However, there is a chance Thibodeaux and Walker are both off the board and they decide to take a player at another position.

Regardless of what position is selected at four, there is a strong likelihood the Jets take a wide receiver at 10th overall. This means there is a chance that the Jets exit the top-10 without having addressed their need for an edge rusher.

The second group of edge rushers in this draft is made up of George Karlaftis (Purdue), David Ojabo (Michigan), Arnold Ebiketie (Penn State), and Boye Mafe (Minnesota).

Ebikeite and Mafe are essentially guaranteed to be first-round picks. There is a strong chance Karlaftis ends up being picked in round one. Ojabo is a player who could possibly make it to 35.

If the Jets cannot take an edge rusher at four based on what is available and decide to add a wide receiver at 10, it would be best to trade up. They can move up from the 35th pick into the late first round to make sure they secure one of these players at the very least.

Mid-round prospects

The Jets will probably not look to address the edge position twice in this draft considering the good depth they already have in place with Bryce Huff and Jacob Martin. If they do decide to go in that direction, there are some noteworthy mid-round players in this draft with pass-rushing talent:

  • Nik Bonitto (Oklahoma)
  • Drake Jackson (USC)
  • Josh Paschal (Kentucky)
  • Cameron Thomas (San Diego State)
  • Myjai Sanders (Cincinnati)
  • Kingsley Enagbare (South Carolina)

Final outlook for the Jets

The best-case scenario for the Jets would be to draft Thibodeaux with the fourth pick. New York has a need for a dominant edge defender and the value of Thibodeaux makes him worth the fourth selection. Thibodeaux is a talented prospect with the potential to be a difference-maker.

Adding Thibodeaux to a group with Quinnen Williams, Carl Lawson, and John Franklin-Myers would give the Jets a great front four that has the ability to change games.

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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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Psi
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Psi

“Adding Thibodeaux to a group…would give the Jets a great front four that has the ability to change games.” This is certainly TBD. Frequently enough, the Jets have been discussed as a having a good to great front 4 and it rarely materializes (remember the Sheldon and Wilkerson years). Even last year and then 1 injury and the unit was mediocre. That said, they could be decent if the injury bug reverts to the mean plus the addition of a good Edge in the draft. KT is a good edge, but I am wary of his persona. Walker will be… Read more »

hh11212
Member
hh11212

Ryan decent overview. But Ebikete and Mafe are not generally projected ahead of Karlaftis. That is something you should amend. That is simply inaccurate. Karlaftis is a top 20 consensus player on both the mock and big board. Mafe is a consensus mock at 29 to KC and #35 big board. Ebikete is not listed on mock and is 38 on big board. This is consistent with everything I have seen. Also KT has less than ideal edge size at 254lbs and only 33″ arms so I would just make those changes. Not trying to nitpick but the subscribers deserve… Read more »

hh11212
Member
hh11212

Thanks for responding…I think JFM will still play quite a bit of edge for us and people are overlooking that. He was plenty good enough last year for us there and if Rankins bounces back he can play there for us on early downs. Lastly, while Mafe and Ebikete have been rising I have seen almost no chatter that they are ranked ahead of Karlaftis and Mock draft database agrees with that assessment. We may have to agree to to disagree there as I see no support for that portion. Again overall you have been putting some nice concise content… Read more »