Analyzing the New York Jets’ 2022 NFL draft plan at the EDGE position
This draft class is top-heavy at the position with four potential top-10 picks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.