New York Jets leaning toward Jermaine Johnson over Kayvon Thibodeaux
Strap yourselves in, New York Jets fans. It’s NFL draft week, which means the rumor mill is about to spin at its most feverish pace of the year.
On Monday, ESPN’s Jordan Raanan reported that Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson is a player “who will go higher Thursday than most seem to expect”.
The Athletic’s Connor Hughes responded to Raanan’s report by indicating that the Jets are interested in taking Johnson with the fourth overall pick.
Watch the Jets at 4.
Yes. 4. https://t.co/OOSrLsEQBY
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) April 25, 2022
Finally, draft analyst Dane Brugler of The Athletic piggybacked off of Hughes’ report by stating that several sources around the league believe Johnson “has a better chance” of being taken by New York with the fourth pick than Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux, a fellow edge rusher who is generally more highly-regarded in draft circles.
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) April 25, 2022
Johnson (6-foot-4, 254 pounds) enjoyed a breakout 2021 season with the Seminoles after transferring from Georgia, collecting 11.5 sacks. He shined at the NFL Scouting Combine by earning a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.23 out of 10, most notably recording a blistering 40-yard-dash time of 4.58 seconds at 254 pounds.
The main concerns that most evaluators have for Johnson are his age and his advanced pass-rushing metrics.
Johnson just turned 23 years old in January and will be one of the oldest players selected in the first round this year. Despite his advantage in age and experience, he struggled to consistently produce as a pass-rusher in college (regardless of his sack totals). Johnson had a pass-rush win rate of 14.1% in 2021, which was significantly lower than other projected first-rounders and only ranked at the 59th percentile among qualified Power-5 edge rushers.
Plenty of work is needed when it comes to Johnson’s pass-rush technique, as Jets X-Factor’s Joe Blewett broke down in great detail. On the positive side, Johnson offers NFL-ready run defense and should immediately be a positive contributor in that phase.
Thibodeaux (6-foot-4, 254 pounds) has been projected as a high first-round pick in this draft for more than two years, putting himself on the map with an outstanding 2019 freshman season. He boasts a great combination of athleticism and production in addition to only being 21 years old. However, some teams appear to be concerned with Thibodeaux’s motor and commitment to the game.