New York Jets NFL Draft Grades 2022: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner goes fourth overall

What are the New York Jets' grades for their selections in the 2022 NFL Draft as they look to address their main needs this offseason?

The 2022 NFL Draft has officially kicked off, and the New York Jets have made their first selection. As the seven rounds progress and the team makes all of their picks, we will provide a live draft grade and analysis for each of the Jets’ selections. How do these new prospects fit with the roster, what kind of impact will they have on the team, and what do the team’s needs look like now that the draft is complete?

Make sure to continue to check back as the 2022 NFL Draft continues for live New York Jets draft grades and analysis.

New York Jets grades for 2022 NFL Draft

What are the Jets‘ grades for their selections in the 2022 NFL Draft as they look to address their main needs this offseason?

Round 1, Pick 4: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

With the fourth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the New York Jets have selected Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. The Jets had a few edge rushers on the board to choose from, but it’s no surprise that Sauce garnered heavy consideration. Gardner is a rare talent at cornerback, with a 6’2 3/4” frame, long 33.5” arms, and 4.41 speed to carry wide receivers upfield.

That said, with all the hype, Gardner isn’t quite a perfect prospect. He sometimes times his jams before setting his base in press coverage, and he’s not the most fluid cornerback – a limitation that often comes with taller cornerbacks. In recovery, he can be too grabby as a man coverage defender. Nevertheless, Gardner has an elite explosiveness/length combination, with great instincts and physicality. I question the man coverage ability early on, but at his peak potential, Gardner can be a dynamic playmaker on the boundary.

Grade: B+

Round 1, Pick 10: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

After adding Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner with the fourth overall pick, the New York Jets sent the card in for Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson at 10th overall. The Jets may have had a tough decision with Jermaine Johnson II still on the board, but there’s no denying the need New York has at receiver. There was speculation that the 10th pick would be involved in a Deebo Samuel trade. Instead, they use it to add a promising pass catcher on a rookie deal.

Wilson is a bit thinner than you’d like, standing at 5’11 3/4”, 183 pounds. But he has great proportional length with 32” arms, and he compounds that appeal with many other elements of his game. Before the catch, Wilson is a twitchy, sudden separator. At the catch point, he has elite vertical ability and body control. And he’s also a slippery, elusive RAC threat. Alongside Elijah Moore and Corey Davis, Wilson can be that versatile slot-boundary receiver who helps carry forth Zach Wilson’s development.

Grade: A

Round 1, Pick 26: Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State

When a player you like falls far enough, you trade up to get him. The Jets followed that philosophy at the back end of the first round, putting together a deal to move up for Florida State EDGE Jermaine Johnson II. There were reports earlier in the week that Johnson was a potential option for Joe Douglas and the Jets at No. 4 overall. Now, they get him at 26th.

PFN NFL Draft Insider Tony Pauline reported during the draft that Johnson could be falling due to potential character concerns. But at this point, the talent was too much to pass on. Johnson is one of the few edge rushers in this draft who has everything – burst, length, twitch, bend capacity, and power, along with methodical hand usage. Talent-wise, this is arguably the best pick in Round 1. The character is the biggest wild card, but if Johnson can stay on track in New York, he can repay this pick tenfold.

Grade: A+

Round 2, Pick 36: Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State

The Jets’ domination of the 2022 NFL Draft continues. The Jets left the first round of the draft with a tremendous haul, adding Ahmad Gardner, Garrett Wilson, and Jermaine Johnson II. Now, they trade up into the top of the second round and take the first running back off the board: Iowa State’s Breece Hall.

For the Jets, who’ve already filled quite a few needs, this is a worthwhile luxury pick to make. Hall has a burly 5’11”, 217-pound frame, but he’s also an elite athlete, with 4.39 speed and a 40” vertical. He has the explosiveness and vision to hit holes quickly, and he can create in tight spaces with his agility. His size and athleticism fit well in New York’s wide-zone scheme, and he’s also a great complement to Michael Carter.

Grade: A

Round 3, Pick 101: Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State

The Jets added tight ends C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin in free agency. But surprisingly enough, they weren’t done yet. At the tail end of Round 3, the Jets added Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert, filling out their roster with a strong third tight end.

Going back to his home state, Ruckert brings some appeal for the Jets. He was a marginal producer at Ohio State, but he has the athletic traits, hip sink, agility, and body control to be a better pro than he was in college. He’s also a willing and physical blocker, which serves as a bonus. The Jets filled most of their needs at this point, so they could afford to take a luxury. Ruckert’s initial fit is unclear, but he brings rotational utility and long-term upside.

Grade: B-

Round 4, Pick 111: Max Mitchell, OT, Louisiana

The Jets addressed several positions over the course of the first two days of the 2022 NFL Draft. One key position that they stayed clear of, until now, was offensive tackle. That changes with their first Day 3 pick. At 111th overall, New York selected Max Mitchell, offensive tackle out of Louisiana.

Mitchell is an intriguing selection for the Jets, who could use more insurance at tackle with the Mekhi Becton situation still unclear. He might not be the top tackle on the board, but he has some intriguing traits. Mitchell has good size and length, and he has more functional athleticism than what he tested with. He’s a mean finisher on tape, and he can also play left or right tackle (with starting experience at both spots). New York may not be swinging for the fences here. Nonetheless, Mitchell can be a solid swing tackle with some spot-starting upside.

Grade: B

Round 4, Pick 117: Micheal Clemons, EDGE, Texas A&M

For now, this is the last pick the New York Jets have in the 2022 NFL Draft. They used it fairly well, adding Texas A&M defensive lineman Micheal Clemons. Clemons is an intriguing prospect, with a high-level physical profile. He’s a legitimately massive defender at 6’5”, 263 pounds, with 35” arms. He also brings great straight-line burst and elite power capacity. He lacks high-level bend, and he’s also going to be a 25-year-old rookie. But at this point, he gives the Jets good depth and some great tools to mold.

Grade: A-

What were the Jets’ biggest needs entering the draft?

  • S, LB, CB, WR, EDGE

Defense topped the list of needs for the Jets entering the draft. Their defensive line and the pass rush have some nice pieces but still would not hurt for some additional talent. However, it is at linebacker and in the secondary that the focus really needs to be. The secondary especially lacks top-tier talent at a number of positions.

Offensively, the Jets have added some options for Wilson at tight end, but there are still a lot of question marks when it comes to wide receiver. Will they be happy to roll into 2022 with Corey Davis, Denzel Mims, Elijah Moore, and Braxton Berrios, or could they look to add some talent?

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