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How did NY Jets’ rookies perform in preseason debut?

Sauce Gardner, NY Jets, Stats, Debut
Sauce Gardner, New York Jets, Getty Images

It was a promising debut night for the New York Jets’ 2022 draft class

All seven of the New York Jets‘ selections from the 2022 NFL draft suited up and took the field in New York’s preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. For the most part, it was an encouraging night for the freshmen.

Let’s take a look at how each rookie performed.

CB Sauce Gardner

Fourth overall pick Sauce Gardner played a couple of drives to begin the game, logging 14 snaps in total. He lined up on the left side of the field for all of his snaps.

Nobody in the world of Jets football was talking about Gardner after this game. And that’s a great thing.

Gardner dropped into coverage on 11 snaps and was not targeted a single time. Philadelphia’s first and second-string offensive units showed no interest in challenging the rookie.

Expect Gardner to have plenty of games like this throughout his career. When teams watch film of the Jets’ defense and see how stingy Gardner’s coverage is, they are going to stay far away from him on gamedays.

WR Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson played 15 offensive snaps in his first NFL action.

Wilson wasted no time getting involved in the offense, catching 2 of 3 targets for 25 yards and a pair of first downs. The only incompletion was a bad misfire by Zach Wilson in which Garrett opened himself up on an out route about five yards downfield.

Both of the catches were earned by Wilson as a product of slick route-running. Wilson also had a nice slant route in the end zone where he opened himself up for a touchdown, but Mike White elected not to attempt the throw.

We saw Wilson take on a few different roles. He took reps outside, in the slot, and even played some snaps in an H-back type of alignment. Look for Wilson – and all Jets receivers – to be used in a versatile fashion this year.

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EDGE Jermaine Johnson

It’s fun to have not one, not two, but three first-round picks to analyze, isn’t it?

Jermaine Johnson trotted out into the Philly spotlight for 15 defensive snaps in his debut. He also played 7 snaps on special teams, where he threw a key block to open up the lane for Braxton Berrios’s 31-yard kickoff return.

Johnson finished with one tackle and one pressure in his short appearance. He showed some nice get-off while also displaying the motor and hustle he is known for.

RB Breece Hall

Breece Hall had the briefest appearance of any rookie, logging 10 offensive snaps.

It was a mostly uneventful night for Hall as he logged five carries for 15 yards. However, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, Hall gained 19.5 of those yards after contact, as opposed to -4.5 yards before contact.

Hall’s best run was an 8-yard scamper on 3rd-and-2 in which he bent the run to the backside edge and outran the contain defender.

TE Jeremy Ruckert

Long Island native Jeremy Ruckert played 10 offensive snaps and 2 special teams snaps.

Ruckert wasted no time making his presence felt, as he snagged a go-ahead touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. It was nothing overly impressive, as he was left wide-open after faking a sift block and then leaking into the flat, but nevertheless, the rook did his job. Ruckert also had another catch for two yards.

Ruckert also performed well as a blocker. His most noteworthy moment was a play in which he sprung to the second level and plowed a safety down the field, clearing the lane for La’Mical Perine to gain 14 yards.

OT Max Mitchell

The Jets wanted to get a good long look at fourth-round tackle Max Mitchell. He started at right tackle and stayed in for most of the game as he ended up with a team-high 46 offensive snaps (74% of all plays). All of his snaps were at right tackle.

It was a mixed bag for Mitchell. There were moments where his movement skills and active hands led to impressive moments, but there were also moments in which his apparent lack of strength was exploited by the opposition.

Mitchell finished the game allowing 2 pressures on 29 pass-blocking snaps, giving him a pressure rate of 6.89% which is below-average for a tackle. He earned a mediocre run-blocking grade of 55.4 at Pro Football Focus.

EDGE Micheal Clemons

As we discussed in greater detail yesterday, Micheal Clemons was the star of the Jets’ defense.

Clemons played 30 defensive snaps and 8 special teams snaps. He consistently shined with his ability to get into the backfield as both a pass-rusher and run defender. Clemons led the Jets with seven total pressures (1 sack, 1 hit, 5 hurries) and added two run stops.

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1 year ago

Rooks looking good and thankfully all stayed healthy. Great to get Mitchell all that work. I trust he will improve. Clemons will contribute this year. Great stuff.