Will the New York Jets’ 2022 draft class be a turning point for the franchise?
The New York Jets’ 2022 draft class put together by general manager Joe Douglas is loaded with talented prospects from top to bottom. However, Douglas may have done his best work of the weekend on the opening night of the draft, adding a trio of potential stars in Cincinnati’s Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson, and Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson II.
Despite heavy speculation and assumption that the Jets wouldn’t value the cornerback position in high enough regard to target one of the class’s top prospects, New York did just that, selecting Cincy cover-man Sauce Gardner fourth overall.
Gardner brings some much-needed attitude and aggression to the Jets’ secondary. His massive size and length (standing 6-foot-3 with 33.5-inch arms) combined with his impressive fluidity and 4.41 speed make him a prototypical outside corner capable of locking up any receiver he lines up against.
On top of his cover skills, Gardner shows no fear of tackling, throwing his body into ball carriers with reckless abandon.
The Jets already added one new face to their cornerback room in the form of former Seahawk D.J. Reed, but they clearly didn’t think that was enough. Pairing Reed and Gardner should drastically improve the unit for at least the foreseeable future.
After addressing their passing defense six picks earlier with Gardner, New York helped out their passing offense by drafting Garrett Wilson, the electric wideout from Ohio State, 10th overall.
Wilson fits the Jets’ preferred profile of wide receivers like a glove; explosive playmakers who can win at all levels of the field. Wilson was the most well-rounded of all the 2022 receiver prospects, equally capable of running by his coverage as he is at jumping over them to make a contested catch. He flashes incredible body control to adjust to the ball in the air, play the sidelines, and turn off-target throws into completions.
Wilson’s variable skill set should make him an immediate favorite of second-year quarterback Zach Wilson, helping transform the Jets’ offense from sluggish to spectacular.
Gardner and Wilson are both impact players at crucial positions who will surely improve New York’s chances of success, but the Jets’ best pick of the night came in the form of an unexpected trade up at the end of round one: stealing Seminole pass rusher Jermaine Johnson II with the 26th overall pick.
According to Douglas, Johnson was a top-eight player on the Jets’ draft board and would’ve been their choice at 10 had Wilson not been available. When Johnson surprisingly fell past the 15th pick, Douglas hit the phones in an attempt to get back into the first round, calling every team on the clock until he had a deal.
Luckily for Douglas and Jets fans alike, Johnson somehow remained on the board long enough for New York to strike a deal with the Tennessee Titans, allowing New York to snatch Johnson with the 26th pick.
Johnson’s speed, strength, length, and arsenal of pass rush moves make him an ideal fit in head coach Robert Saleh’s defense, and with other pass rush threats like Carl Lawson and Quinnen Williams around him, Johnson should have plenty of one-on-one opportunities to collect sacks early in his career.
The Oklahoma Drill Podcast is back to review an incredible 2022 draft class by Joe Douglas and the New York Jets, breaking down the fit and potential of all seven picks made across the three-day event.
Most teams in the NFL would be lucky to find one pro-bowl caliber player in a single draft class, let alone multiple. However, with the Jets’ unfathomable collection of first-round acquisitions, New York may have added three future pro-bowlers with their first three picks.