The New York Jets entered the offseason in need of an overhaul. The team was coming off a disappointing 4-13 record in the 2021 season and changes were desperately needed.
While the degree of struggles were disappointing, they were not unexpected. The Jets had the league’s youngest roster a year ago.
Beyond that, the team was reaching the critical point in a multiyear rebuild plan. After years of poor decision making, general manager Joe Douglas decided to think long term. Rather than chasing short-term Band-Aids to fix problems temporarily, the Jets spent the early part of his tenure building resources; both cap space and premium draft picks. 2022 was finally the year for the team to strike.
The Jets had one of the most aggressive free agencies in the NFL this year, and they focused on key positions. A gaping hole at guard was filled by the addition of Laken Tomlinson, a player who has found success in a similar offensive system to the one run by the Jets in San Francisco with the 49ers.
Mike LaFleur’s tight end-heavy offense also needed new faces at the position. Tyler Kroft and Ryan Griffin did not do the job in 2021. In came C.J. Uzomah from the Cincinnati Bengals and Tyler Conklin from the Minnesota Vikings.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Jets bolstered their defensive end depth by adding Jacob Martin from the Houston Texans, but the major focus was on the secondary. The team made a big play for New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams. After missing out on him, the Jets signed a pair of players on the second tier of free agency, Seattle Seahawks cornerback DJ Reed and Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead.
The team continued its secondary revamp in the 2022 NFL Draft. The first of four top-40 picks was used on Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. Suddenly the cornerback group looks like a strength on paper. On top of two high-end additions, last year’s starters Bryce Hall and Brandin Echols become quality backups.
The 10th overall pick, which was acquired from Seattle in the Jamal Adams trade during the summer of 2020, was used on wide receiver Garrett Wilson out of Ohio State. The Jets had a hole at the position. The team attempted to trade for Tyreek Hill, but the star receiver ended up in Miami with the Dolphins. After other potential trades for a veteran failed to materialize, the Jets almost had to take Wilson at 10.
Later in the first round, the Jets traded up to obtain a third pick, selecting Jermaine Johnson of Florida State to further upgrade defensive end.
One night later, the team traded up a second time for Iowa State running back Breece Hall, completing the offseason of upgrades on offense. By the end of the 2022 draft, the Jets had selected a number of players considered the best prospects at their respective positions in this draft class. With these draft choices, along with the Jets’ free agent class, the Jets converted multiple positions from major weaknesses into potential strengths. The Jets also went a long way towards supporting Zach Wilson with as many weapons as possible, as well as with upgrades to the offensive line.
The Jets received almost universal acclaim for their 2022 NFL Draft class, with ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. giving them an A grade and SB Nation.com’s James Dator calling it “damn near perfection.”
Now we just need all of the Jets’ new acquisitions to perform.