Let’s get one thing absolutely straight, the Jets are at the very beginning of a serious rebuild. The organisation has a few cornerstones to begin rebuilding it’s roster, but outside of that, there’s a lot of work to do. I believe it’s going to be a case of getting the guys in place for head coach Robert Saleh to do what he wants to do with his defence in this years 2022 NFL draft, and become a team that controls a game with it’s defence making plays and creating turnovers. Rookie Zach Wilson has struggled early, but so have all of the young QBs in their first season this year, unfortunately, guys like Justin Herbert set the bar incredibly high. and the patience bar way too low. Don’t forget, for every Justin Herbert, there is a guy like Josh Allen. Developing as an NFL QB takes a lot of elements. Offensive line, play calling and coordinator relationship, a run game, and generally letting a young talent grow into the role.
With that said, and with the Jets having two first round picks in the upcoming draft, let’s turn our attention to what that might look like, as the future of bringing in star athletes through the draft is something Jets fans can really get excited about.
Disclaimer: I use The Draft Networks mock draft machine to select these picks, in order to keep it authentic. All draft’s are based on the NFL’s current standings. Time of writing. NFL week 3.
Round 1 Pick 1: Kayvon Thibodeaux – EDGE Oregon
This is a dream selection for Robert Saleh. Thibodeaux is a game changer and can wreak havoc off the edge. He changes games all by himself, as we’ve already seen this college football season. Like I said, it’s about getting Saleh his guys so he can run a successful scheme defensively, and it doesn’t get much better than this. Could the Jets trade down a couple of spots for QB hungry teams? Potentially. But this season there’s a chance the demand right at the top for those QBs is not what it has been in previous years. To be safe, I’d stay at number one and get a guy who is going to make a difference to your defence immediately. Look at Chase Young. He graded the best player on Washington’s defence as a rookie. Nick Bosa had a similar impact. You can’t put a price on that pressure off the edge.
Thibodeaux, the 6’5″ talent, is so versatile that Saleh could line him up anywhere to rush the passer, and with the help of Quinnen Williams through the middle, and getting Shaq Lawson back from injury, the front of that defence begins to take shape. I love this pick for the Jets. I think he’s a guy your franchise can hang it’s hat on. Difference makers like him don’t come around too often. Like Mike Tomlin famously said to Chase Young, ‘I don’t ever want to lose enough games to be able to get a guy like you, you gotta lose 14-15 games to get a guy who looks like you”. Thibodeaux is no different. The Jets are rebuilding from the ground, and trust me, he’s worth the losing season. Here the Jets add the consensus number one talent in the 2022 NFL draft.
Round 1 Pick 17 (via Seahawks): Christian Harris – LB Alabama
Harris is a name that should rise up draft boards the more this season progresses. He is a run stuffing machine with athletic tools to compete with the new modern era of linebackers at the NFL level. I can already see a brand new, exciting young defence taking shape, and before you know it you have first round athletes all over the field. The Jets do need help at corner, but with the likes of Derek Stingley, Kaiir Elam, Ahmad Gardner and Andrew Booth off the board, I would be inclined to wait until the second round in what is a deep class of secondary talent.
My focus in this mock is the defence. The offensive line, while it might take time to gel, has 4 pieces resolved already, and only leaves the right tackle spot with something to be desired. We can look at that too, but for now, Christian Harris comes into the second level, playing behind your brand new number one pick on the front line.
Harris is a great run stuffer, possesses the agility and athleticism to play coverage, and can be utilised in the blitz at will as well. He has a nose for the football, plays hard, and makes his presence well and truly known when he gets to the ball carrier. Two difference makers to your defence on day one of the draft.
Round 2 Pick 33: Derion Kendrick – CB Georgia
Kendrick is currently playing on a very good defence with the Bulldogs, and considering he’s only been playing corner since 2019, is doing a fantastic job of increasing his draft stock. The Clemson transfer has an interception and two pass break ups already through only four games this season with the ‘Dawgs.
A converted wide receiver, who played QB in high school, means Kendrick possesses great ball skills, and when he has the chance to make a play on the football, he delivers. Primarily a zone corner, he offers a great option as a starting outside cornerback in the NFL. He’s 6′”0, 190 pounds, and if he continues to develop the way he’s currently projecting, could even be called on day one.
I am stunned to see Tyler Linderbaum still on draft boards at this point, and while there is a lot to be said for drafting best player available, I couldn’t see the Jets taking a centre, even though Linderbaum is a top 15 talent in my eyes.
The Jets go corner here, and that’s three draft picks out of three for the defence in the 2022 NFL draft. In the 2021 draft, the Jets went offence with their first three picks. Franchise QB (Wilson), franchise protection up front (Vera-Tucker), and weapon (Elijah Moore). The receiver group is growing, no need to focus there early in this draft.
Round 2 Pick 47 (via Panthers): Jeremy Ruckert – TE Ohio State
It’s a shame that Nik Bonitto went off the board the very pick before the Jets were back on here. He’s a guy I could see in a Robert Saleh defence. However, something the Jets are missing is a prolific pass catching tight end. Look no further than Jeremy Ruckert.
Ruckert has some of the safest hands in college football, and looks exactly like Travis Kelce did in his Cincinnati days. He’s a pass catcher first, before all else, and Ohio State know they can go to him when they need a possession catch or a first down. A safe tight end is every young NFL QBs dream. Look at the relationship between Mahomes and Kelce, Lamar and Mark Andrews. Zach Wilson doesn’t have that luxury in the middle of the field yet, and would welcome the chance to play with somebody like Jeremy Ruckert in the Jets pass game.
He hasn’t had all too many targets for the Buckeyes, but when he does, his highlight reel is impressive. One handers, red zone targets in particular. In 2020, Ruckert caught 13 passes, and 5 of those were touchdowns. The year before, 14 catches, 4 of those touchdowns. Two words. Safe hands. More than willing to do his part in the blocking game too. Because of his lack of targets, he might be the most undervalued tight end in the 2022 NFL draft. Could, and should, become the Jets starting TE.
Round 3 Pick 65: Nicholas Petit-Frere – OT Ohio State
The Jets go back to back Buckeyes with these two picks, and add their new franchise starting right tackle. Like I said earlier, we could address the offensive line issue later on, and in the third round, adding Petit-Frere is phenomenal value. If there was any risk of him coming off the board a few picks earlier, I’d have likely traded up to make sure he landed in New York.
Largely, this draft is filled with left tackles in the first few rounds, which of course is occupied for the Jets by super human Mekhi Becton. If the Jets hit on this pick in the third round, then the offensive line suddenly doesn’t have any real weak spots, and Zach Wilson has time to survey the field. They’re not there yet with the line, and I think it’s pivotal they add at least one piece in the first few rounds, and I believe this to be the perfect fit.
Petit-Frere is now 315 pounds, after arriving at Ohio State at an undersized 275. He’s got NFL size, and is a former 5 star recruit and consensus number one offensive tackle prospect from his recruiting class. He’s still learning and developing, and depending on how this season goes, if he shows a little more experience on tape, could end up higher in the draft. But if not, the Jets get him here, give him time to develop, and then start him when he’s ready. Possesses the size and length to be effective in the passing game, shutting out oncoming rushers, and can get downfield well in the run game too. A very interesting prospect for franchises in the 2022 NFL draft.
How do you feel about these selections Jets fans? Tweet me @AlexUndrafted and let me know! Do you think a running back should be considered? Somebody like Kenneth Walker, who’s making a tonne of noise with the Michigan State Spartans this season…