We won’t definitively know how the Jets performed in the 2022 NFL Draft for a few years. That won’t stop the experts from making premature proclamations. After making three first round picks last night, we might expect the Jets to receive praise, but let’s find out for sure by taking a look at some preliminary Draft grades from across the web.
Before we begin I remind you of the golden rule.
Draft grades are stupid...unless they praise the Jets.
I doubt the Jets were put off by the Texans taking Derek Stingley Jr. at No. 3, as it’s entirely possible GM Joe Douglas and coach Robert Saleh had targeted Gardner from the start. The former Bearcat seemingly only fell short of winning the Jim Thorpe Award (top DB in college football) because QBs were wary of throwing his way. Gardner’s height, length and utter tenacity (against the run as well as the pass) give him a shot to be a Patrick Surtain- or Stephon Gilmore-type defender.
New York used the final pick from the Jamal Adams trade to select Wilson at No. 10. The former Buckeye is a versatile player who I love to watch catch passes away from his frame. He can handle responsibilities inside and outside, and though he’s not an overly physical receiver, his routes are good enough to separate downfield.
Johnson is a versatile and strong edge rusher — something the team desperately needed. He led Florida State in sacks last year and was solid against the run, as well. Getting a player of his caliber at No. 26 overall — without giving up a ton of assets — was a nice value.
I think Sauce Gardner will be the best cornerback from this draft when the dust settles. He’s got phenomenal size, great instincts, and let’s face it — he never allowed a touchdown in college. There are some discipline issues with how he plays, as he likes to grab and give up some dumb penalties from time to time, but that’s not a concern for me. We’re talking about a guy with Darrelle Revis skills in Richard Sherman’s body. I love it. Grade: A
Wilson’s was my favorite WR in the draft. A smooth, do-everything receiver who can make a quarterback’s life easier — and that’s just what Zach Wilson needs. There are still major concerns about the protection in New York, but at least they now have a legitimate player who can make the QB look better. Garrett Wilson’s catch point, his ability to catch difficult passes, and work in tight spaces is everything this team needs. Grade: A
I do not understand how Johnson lasted this long. It makes no sense. Here was a guy who at the worst was going in the teens in almost every mock draft, and he plummets to No. 26. I love the aggression and the pickup here, and he adds to the big haul from the Jets. The former ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Johnson will immediately bolster the pass rush. Grade: A+
It feels like the Jets knew the Texans were taking Stingley, so if they wanted a top corner, they could not wait with the Giants coming up next. Gardner’s career production has been wild the past three years: nine INTs, 0 TDs allowed. He’s a great fit as a zone corner in Robert Saleh’s defense, so it’s hard to gripe with the pick. Grade: B
It’s no shock they went receiver here, having struck out on Tyreek Hill and other potential upgrades. Wilson should step in as part of a four-WR group that includes Corey Davis, Elijah Moore and Braxton Berrios. Now Zach Wilson feels more like he did at BYU: with receiving options all over the field. I’d be shocked if Wilson isn’t at least a very respectable pass catcher. Grade: B+
We’re stunned at Johnson’s fall. He was the best EDGE at the Senior Bowl, consistently bringing energy and terror for two impressive days. He’s not an elite pass rusher, but he attacks the ball very well, has a big motor and an alpha personality. With three first-rounders, the Jets have improved in three critical areas. Impressive stuff, Joe Douglas. Grade: A
A lot of the talk in the pre-draft process was that the Jets were going to target an edge defender or offensive tackle in this spot, but instead, they opted for the cornerback who didn’t allow a touchdown in his college career at Cincinnati. Gardner is a strong fit in Robert Saleh’s defense, and it’s hard to poke holes in his profile from size to athleticism to college production. He allowed just 43% of the passes thrown into his coverage to be completed across his three seasons with the Bearcats. Grade: Above Average
The Jets continue to add talent around second-year quarterback Zach Wilson with a 6-foot, 184-pound wide receiver who wins in space before and after the catch. Wilson averaged over 3.0 yards per route run in each of the last two seasons at Ohio State. He rounds out a receiving corps that has added Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin in the last two offseasons. Grade: Good
There were murmurs that the Jets were thinking of Johnson with their No. 4 overall pick, yet they managed to land him at No. 26 after trading up with Tennessee. The Florida State — and former Georgia and JUCO — product was one of the biggest winners at the Senior Bowl, impressing scouts so much that he opted out of the final day of practice and the game itself. The 6-foot-4, 259-pound edge defender has over 34-inch arms and the tools to put them into action. He produced multiple pressures in every game he played for Florida State last season and ended the campaign with an 81.0 PFF grade Grade: Good
With a nickname and personality like “Sauce,” Gardner was perhaps destined for Broadway. Jets coach Robert Saleh likely saw a faster version of his former All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman in Gardner, who did not allow a single touchdown reception over his college career. Pairing Gardner with free-agent addition D.J. Reed (Seattle) gives Saleh and the Jets the cornerback duo to contend with division rival Miami as one of the elite secondary pairings in the league. Grade: A-
Jets general manager Joe Douglas recently stated that he sees “greatness” in Zach Wilson’s future. By surrounding the young quarterback with a pass-catcher of Garrett Wilson’s caliber, the QB’s job certainly will be easier. The Ohio State receiver offers the stickiest hands of this class, with remarkable body control to hover in the air and make circus catches look easy. Grade: B
Among the “elite eight” players on my board, I was stunned to see Johnson fall to the 26th overall selection. However, I love his fit in New York, especially given the earlier pick of Sauce Gardner (as well as Garrett Wilson). Sure, having three first-round picks makes winning the draft easier, but there is no question that GM Joe Douglas and the Jets seized the first day of the 2022 draft with this haul. Grade: A
Ideally suited for press coverage, Gardner is a lanky corner with elite length (33 ½” arms), toughness and confidence. When asked at the combine how he’ll react to giving up an NFL touchdown, Gardner said “I don’t have plans on giving one up.” “Sauce” has ended each of his three seasons in Cincinnati with three interceptions. The Jets needed an upgrade at corner, and he has the chance to become one of the best. The AFC East has Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs, and he immediately helps to slow them down some.
While the Jets missed out on a trade for Tyreek Hill, they get help for Zach Wilson with my top-ranked receiver in this class and seventh-ranked prospect overall. Wilson has outstanding body control, ball skills and is dynamic after the catch. Quick and elusive, Wilson ran a faster-than-expected 40-yard dash (4.38) in Indianapolis. He’s a complete receiver that finished 2021 with 70 catches for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns.
What a steal! Not only do they get Carl Lawson back from injury, but they add one of the most talented pass-rushers in the draft. Johnson led the ACC in both tackles for loss (17.5) and sacks (11.5) in 2021 as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Johnson continued to improve his stock throughout the pre-draft process, and he uses his blend of strength, length (34” arms) and burst to make plays against the run and pass.
What is your grade for the Jets after the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft
This poll is closed
Better than either of these