Though the Jets have had some impressive rookie seasons in franchise history, the 2022 debuting class has a chance to shred some long-held records
It’s easy to hype a draft class as “the best in the league” or “the best ever.”
If any rookie class has a chance to live up to the hype, though, it would be the 2022 New York Jets haul.
After another offseason in the Joe Douglas regime, a hopeful lineup of former college talents are getting ready to make their first impressions in the NFL. The seven rookies will look to make their presence known early.
While league stardom is a plus, cementing yourself in New York Jets history in Year 1 can make you a fan favorite for years to come.
The Jets have not seen many rookie records broken in decades, but here are my picks for potential newcomers to end these tenured marks.
Rookie Receiving Records
The former Buckeye and new Jets receiver Garrett Wilson is the team’s latest swing at landing a generational wideout. He will have his work cut out for him, as two Jets legends from the 1990s hold the rookie receiving records.
Keyshawn Johnson holds the records for receiving yards and touchdowns as a rookie, with 844 yards and eight touchdowns in 1996. Wayne Chrebet has the record for receptions as a rookie with 66 from a year prior in 1995.
If Wilson were to surpass either franchise legend as a rookie, then Gang Green will have a dangerous opponent for defensive backs every Sunday for years to come.
With the crowded receiver room this year, I don’t see Wilson surpassing 844 yards. The receptions record is pretty low at 66, though.
Jets 2021 rookie standout Elijah Moore posted 43 receptions in 11 games, which was on pace for exactly 66 receptions over 17 games. If Wilson can stay healthy all season long, that number is very attainable.
Eight touchdowns is also not astronomical, but it would require receiver Wilson and quarterback Zach Wilson to find chemistry right away.
The latter two records are surely within reach of the recent 10th overall pick for the Jets.
Rookie Rushing Records
To the surprise of many, the Jets elected to bolster the rushing attack early in the draft. Running back Breece Hall out of Iowa State is the newest addition to the room, boasting an impressive collegiate resume.
Hall has not played a game without scoring a touchdown since his freshman year (Dec. 28, 2019). He is a very complete prospect and will make an immediate impact in the rotation, likely securing a 1A role with Michael Carter as the 1B.
Matt Snell holds the rushing yards record for rookies with 948 in 1964. Tony Paige holds the record for rookie rushing TDs with seven scores in 1984. Both records have been around for decades, but Hall could very well put an end to both in 2022.
I am confident that Hall will break the touchdown record of seven this year. While I don’t expect him to keep his absurd touchdown streak going, he has a home-run burst and the power to convert at the goal line, making him the ideal candidate for red-zone carries (for all the fantasy football lovers, a compelling flex play).
948 yards will be more difficult to beat since offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur loves a backfield committee. Still, Hall will likely still receive the majority of touches over Carter. He has the talent to stretch each carry to exceed 56 rush yards per game and hit the 1,000 yards rushing mark.
Rookie Defensive Records
While the Jets added plenty of talented offensive pieces, the defense was also injected with stars on draft night. Cornerback Sauce Gardner was drafted fourth overall and edge rusher Jermaine Johnson 26th overall, two premium prospects at premium positions. Another EDGE, Micheal Clemons, rounded out the class in the fifth round.
David Harris holds the record for tackles by a Jets rookie with 90 takedowns in 2007. The best bet to rival this record is Johnson, but it is hard to see him having enough opportunities to break it. Head coach Robert Saleh loves to rotate his edge rushers, and Johnson’s position doesn’t give him a good shot.
A different record that is much more feasible is the rookie sack record of 10. It was set in 1995 by Hugh Douglas.
Clemons won’t see the field enough to have a chance at the record, but Johnson is slated to be a starting edge rusher in Week 1. New York’s defensive line is flooded with talent, both on the edge and the interior (Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, and Carl Lawson, to name a few).
If Johnson hits the ground running and plays a full season, there’s no reason he can’t push the envelope and put up double-digits in the sack department. Perhaps we could see the second coming of the infamous New York Sack Exchange?
One more record to watch out for is the rookie interceptions record. Erik McMillan set the record at 8 back in 1988. Sauce Gardner certainly has the tools to be a great cornerback in the NFL, though this record is a tough one. Sauce plays as a true lockdown corner, which typically results in opposing quarterbacks refusing to throw his way.
I am confident that Sauce will be dominant in Year 1, but eight interceptions is a lot for any cornerback, let alone a rookie. He would likely have to play a more Trevon Diggs-Esque, ball-hawk style to get enough opportunities to generate a high interception count.
Opponents may try to test Sauce early simply because he is a rookie. If given the opportunities, Gardner is certainly able to make quarterbacks pay for throwing his way.
In the end, most of these records are likely to stand pat. It’s no easy feat to come into the game’s premier league and dominate, but the players above are certainly candidates to etch their names into franchise history from the outset.
Next Article: NY Jets roster locks: offensive edition
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