Analyzing the New York Jets’ 2022 NFL draft plan at the safety position
One of the needs that the New York Jets seem most likely to address in the 2022 NFL draft is their hole at the safety position.
Adding a rookie to complement Whitehead for the long-term would be wise of Douglas.
There are many players currently rounding out the depth of this group. Having Lamarcus Joyner around to take on snaps while a rookie grows is a plus. The unit also features Ashtyn Davis, Elijah Riley, Will Parks, and potentially Jason Pinnock.
Here are some of the prospects New York could target at various points of the 2022 draft.
The top prospect: Kyle Hamilton
Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame) has been one of the most highly touted prospects in this draft all along. Physically, Hamilton has all the measurables one could ask for. He stands at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds with 33″ arm length.
Athletically, despite a slower 40-yard dash time than expected (4.59) Hamilton still recorded a Relative Athletic Score of 9.33 thanks to his 131″ broad jump, 38″ vertical jump, and 6.90 three-cone.
Hamilton has good range as a long-strider. He had three interceptions in seven games last season.
For the Jets, Hamilton seems like an unrealistic possibility. He is not in play with the fourth selection and would likely be a secondary option if available when the Jets pick at 10.
After Hamilton, the consensus next four safeties are Lewis Cine (Georgia), Daxton Hill (Michigan), Jaquan Brisker (Penn State), and Jalen Pitre (Baylor).
Hill and Pitre both offer positional flexibility to play slot corner. Hill is a great athlete (9.03 RAS) who ran a 4.38 and had a 6.57 three-cone. Pitre is a physical player who can make things happen around the line of scrimmage. His testing was highlighted by a 1.53 10-yard split and 6.74 three-cone time.
Cine tested off the charts with a 9.92 RAS. His speed was on display as he recorded a special 10-yard split time of 1.45. Projecting as a single-high safety, Cine is an aggressive tackler coming downhill and also enjoyed success in man coverage.
Brisker brings good height and length (6-foot-1, 31 3/4″ arms). He is a tough football player with versatility. He had six tackles for loss and five passes defended in 2021.
For the Jets to land Cine or Hill, they would probably have to trade up into the end of the first round. Pitre and Brisker seem likely to be available at the Jets’ 35th and 38th picks. Both could very well be in play among the most realistic options for New York in those slots.
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Nick Cross (Maryland), Bryan Cook (Cincinnati), and Kerby Joseph (Illinois) are three safeties who look to be valued in the third or fourth round. They could be viable options for the Jets at 69 or 111 if they are still available.
A young prospect who turns 21 in September, Cross offers immense upside with his athletic ability (9.87 RAS). He brings good size at six feet and 212 pounds with 31 1/2″ arms. Possessing excellent top speed (1.46 10-yard split, 4.34 40-yard), Cross has great range as a free safety, highlighted by his three interceptions last year.
Cook has a solid frame (6-foot, 206 pounds, 31 7/8″ arms) and is a tough player who offers versatility in addition to reliable tackling. His experience as a former cornerback helps him make an impact in coverage, as evidenced by his nine passes defended last year.
Joseph is a tall safety at 6-foot-1 and provides significant length on the backend with 33″ arms. He had an impressive 38.5″ vertical. Joseph can cover ground on the backend and did an impressive job in coverage last season with five interceptions.
If the Jets do not select a safety at any point in the first three rounds, here are a few they could target in rounds four and five:
- J.T. Woods (Baylor)
- Tycen Anderson (Toledo)
- Dane Belton (Iowa)
- Sterling Weatherford (Miami OH)
- Verone McKinley (Oregon)
Final outlook for the Jets
Adding a free safety alongside Whitehead (who is at his best around the line of scrimmage) would complete an ideal offseason at the safety position for the Jets.
If somehow one of Cine or Hill surprisingly falls to 35, they would probably be the pick. Selecting Brisker, Cross, Joseph, or Cook at any point in rounds two through four would still give the Jets a potential upgrade.
There seems to be a pretty good chance of the Jets acquiring one of those prospects at some point after the first round of the draft.