Analyzing the New York Jets’ 2022 NFL draft plan at defensive tackle
The New York Jets have some good pieces along the interior of their defensive line as things currently stand.
A big fourth season is expected from Quinnen Williams. John Franklin-Myers could be utilized on the inside more frequently this season. Sheldon Rankins will be back and should help as a pass rusher. In free agency, Solomon Thomas was signed to provide pass-rushing depth. It will be interesting to see if Jonathan Marshall shows any progression in this second season.
What could give this group a boost is a run-stopping nose tackle. Despite not being the most ideal scheme fit, Folorunso Fatukasi was a tough loss in free agency. In their next nose tackle, getting a player with one-gapping ability to mesh in the scheme would be logical.
The defensive tackle prospects in the 2022 draft and where the Jets would likely target them will be discussed here.
The top prospect: Jordan Davis
Nose tackle Jordan Davis was a vital contributor to the 2021 National Championship won by Georgia. Throughout last season he put himself on the map in a big way when it came to his draft status.
Davis recorded two sacks and five tackles for loss last year. Per Pro Football Focus, he totaled nine hurries in 2021, by far a career-best. Jones has a huge frame (6-foot-6, 341 lbs) which he uses to his advantage in stopping the run. He put on a generational performance at the combine with a perfect Relative Athletic Score of 10.0. He had an elite 40-yard dash time of 4.78.
Ultimately, the chances of the Jets landing Davis seem slim. His value may not start until late in the top 10. When the Jets pick at 10, he would likely be a secondary option.
First and second-round prospects
The next few players who could be picked in the first or second round are:
- Devonte Wyatt (Georgia)
- Travis Jones (UConn)
- Logan Hall (Houston)
- Perrion Winfrey (Oklahoma)
- DeMarvin Leal (Texas A&M)
Devonte Wyatt seems likely to be off the board by the time the Jets pick at 35. If he does slip to the Jets’ early second-round pick, he could be in contention. He recorded an impressive RAS of 9.59 highlighted by a 4.77 40-yard dash.
If he is available at 35 or 38, it will be interesting to see if the Jets draft Travis Jones. He has the size to be the prototypical nose tackle the Jets need (6-foot-4, 325 lbs, 34 1/4″ arms). His impressive athleticism (9.40 RAS), speed (4.92 40-yard), and quickness (7.33 3-cone) show he can fit the Jets’ penetrating front. Jones had 4.5 sacks in 2021.
Logan Hall is not the biggest defensive tackle (283 lbs). He possesses the athleticism to win as a pass-rusher on the interior (9.40 RAS, 1.67 10-yard split, 7.25 3-cone). Hall recorded six sacks last season.
Perrion Winfrey has arm length (35 1/4″), speed (4.89 40-yard), and pass-rushing ability as a defensive tackle (5.5 sacks in 2021), although he does not have the size (6-foot-3, 290 lbs) to fit the Jets’ nose tackle need. Winfrey may be available when the Jets make their two early second-round picks.
DeMarvin Leal will likely start being targeted after the Jets make their two early second-round selections. He is a young prospect at 21 years old. Leal had 8.5 sacks last season and has an elite 3-cone time of 7.2.
A few of the prospects the Jets could target in rounds three and four are Phidarian Mathis (Alabama), Matthew Butler (Tennessee), Zachary Carter (Florida), and Thomas Booker (Stanford).
Out of this group, Mathis is the one most likely to be in contention when the Jets pick in the third round (69th overall). He has the height and arm length to be a successful nose tackle (6-foot-4, 34 5/8″ arms). Mathis does offer pass-rushing ability as he finished last season with nine sacks.
When the Jets pick in the fourth round (111 and 117), Butler, Carter, and Booker could be options if they are available and the Jets still have not addressed the position.
Butler had five sacks last year. He has good speed (1.69 10-yard split, 5-flat 40-yard dash). His 297-pound frame will probably not translate as a nose tackle.
At 282 pounds, Carter is also too small to fit the Jets’ need for a nose tackle. He has the speed and quickness to win on the interior (1.68 10-yard, 7.34 3-cone). Over the last three seasons, he attained pass-rushing success with 17.5 sacks.
Over his four college seasons, Booker was consistently productive with 20.5 sacks (at least three each season). He tested incredibly well athletically (9.88 RAS). Booker projects as a three-technique defensive tackle.
Late round prospects
If the Jets go elsewhere in the first four rounds and look to acquire a defensive tackle later on, a few players who could be potential options in round five would be Haskell Garrett (Ohio State), Otito Ogbonnia (UCLA), and John Ridgeway (Arkansas).
Final outlook for the Jets
With the Jets’ current group of defensive tackles consisting of gifted pass-rushers, if they add a prospect from this draft, it should be a run-stopping nose tackle.
The best fit for the Jets is Travis Jones at either the 35th or 38th pick if he is available. If Jones is not available or the Jets address other positions, Phidarian Mathis is a viable mid-round option.
Pairing a run-stopper like Jones with Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, Sheldon Rankins, and Solomon Thomas would give the Jets a defensive tackle group with great potential.