Analyzing the New York Jets’ 2022 NFL draft plan at the linebacker position
The New York Jets‘ need for a linebacker has been discussed throughout the offseason. No difference-making veteran was signed in the first or second wave of free agency.
This position is currently led by veteran C.J. Mosley. Alongside him, it would be ideal for New York to add a starter in the mid-rounds of this draft.
The prospects the Jets could potentially target throughout the draft will be highlighted below.
In all likelihood, Devin Lloyd (Utah), Nakobe Dean (Georgia), and Quay Walker (Georgia) will be the first three linebackers drafted. They could all wind up being first-rounders.
If one of them does fall to the Jets’ 35th or 38th selection, they could very well be the pick for Douglas.
Lloyd has a little bit of everything to his game. He has size (6-foot-2, 237 lbs), athletic ability (9.59 Relative Athletic Score), and versatility.
Dean is not the biggest at 5-foot-11 and 229 pounds but he plays fast, excels in coverage (two interceptions and five passes defended in 2021), and can blitz (six sacks).
Walker provides potential with his size (6-foot-3, 241 lbs), speed (4.52 40-yard), and athleticism (9.63 RAS).
Following the consensus top three linebacker prospects, there are many prospects likely to go in the second and third rounds: Chad Muma (Wyoming), Leo Chenal (Wisconsin), Christian Harris (Alabama), Brian Asamoah (Oklahoma), and Troy Andersen (Montana State).
The first three mentioned (Muma, Chenal, and Harris) all have a good chance of being drafted in the second round. They could be options for the Jets if Lloyd, Dean, and Walker are all off the board by 35 and 38.
Muma is a complete package who offers size (6-foot-2, 239 lbs), speed (4.63), and athletic ability (9.77 RAS).
Chenal tested exceptionally well athletically (9.99 RAS) highlighted by a 40.5″ vertical jump and 1.50 10-yard split at 250 pounds. He would provide immediate help for the Jets’ run defense.
Harris ran a great 40 (4.44) with a 1.53 10-yard split. He offers good pass-rushing upside as he totaled 10 sacks the last two years.
Asamoah and Andersen could be viable options when the Jets pick in the third round at 69th overall if the linebacker position is not addressed to that point.
With Asamoah, good speed (1.55 10-yard split) and athleticism (8.90 RAS) would be added to the defense. Asamoah has sideline to sideline range. He is physical stopping the run for a smaller linebacker (6-foot, 226 lbs) and can play in coverage as well.
Andersen offers great coverage ability, height (6-foot-3), and speed (1.49 10-yard split, 4.42 40-yard dash). He had a special Relative Athletic Score of 10.0.
Day three targets
In the fourth round, multiple linebacker targets for the Jets are Channing Tindall (Georgia), Darrian Beavers (Cincinnati), Brandon Smith (Penn State), Jesse Luketa (Penn State), and JoJo Domann (Wisconsin).
Tindall offers the ability to rush the quarterback (5.5 sacks in 2021). His 4.47 speed and 9.68 RAS give him potential to grow as a run and pass defender.
Aside from his speed (4.70), Beavers tested well in every other regard. He offers size and length (6-foot-3, 237 lbs) and can even be deployed on the defensive line, playing 151 snaps as a defensive lineman in 2021 while registering four sacks.
Smith is a projection with his athletic ability (9.97 RAS) and youth as he just turned 21. He offers a huge frame as well (6-foot-3, 250 lbs, 34 5/8″ arms).
Smith’s college teammate Luketa offers positional flexibility at edge and off-ball linebacker. Luketa is well-known for his leadership attributes and was a team captain.
Domann excelled in testing athletically when it came to speed (1.58 10-yard split, 4.62 40-yard) and quickness (6.88 3-cone). Domann would help the Jets linebacker group with his coverage ability.
Terrel Bernard (Baylor), D’Marco Jackson (Appalachian State), and Micah McFadden (Indiana) are a few noteworthy potential fifth-round linebackers.
Final outlook for the Jets
Preferably, the Jets address their need at linebacker in the second or third round with the quality talent set to be available in those areas of the draft.
If Dean falls to 35, he would be a thrilling acquisition. Out of the second and third-round prospects, there are varying skillsets the Jets could benefit from adding. Muma and Andersen would help in coverage. Harris and Asamoah would bring sideline to sideline speed and range. Chenal would improve the Jets’ run defense.
Having a talented rookie come in and start alongside Mosley would be a great path to take. It would be a plus if Williams, Sherwood, and Nasirildeen could each take on more of a situational role.