The 2022 NFL Draft is almost upon us. After months of speculation and rumors, 32 players will be drafted tonight, followed by many more tomorrow and Saturday. This draft class, especially the first two picks, is huge in determining Joe Douglas as the New York Jets general manager. If he whiffs on both these picks, or even just one, he could be fired sooner than later. On the contrary, if he nails both selections, the team should be set up well for the future. He must get the best value possible on days 2 and 3.
This current Jets team is far from ideal. However, with the luxury of two top ten picks in the draft tonight, they could improve. Knowing Joe Douglas, the offensive line is always a top priority, and it wouldn’t shock me to see the team address it early on. Additionally, since the Jets have a defensive-minded head coach in Robert Saleh, it is essential that their defense improves drastically. There are many can’t miss defensive prospects early on. Below, I have a seven-round mock draft for the final time this year.
R1, Pick 4 (Jets): Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Losing Carl Lawson in training camp last year to a season-ending injury was a massive loss for the Jets’ defense. Though Joe Douglas made a late-summer acquisition with the trade for Shaq Lawson, he was a liability replacing Lawson in 2021. However, the good news is that Carl Lawson should be healthy for the 2022 season. The bad news is that the team still lacks a quality pass-rushing presence opposite him. John Franklin-Myers often played the position in 2021, but he is best suited as an interior defensive lineman. Therefore, Joe Douglas needs to add a true starting-caliber edge rusher.
Someone to fill that role is Oregon’s, Kayvon Thibodeaux. Thibodeaux, 21 years old, is an athletic freak with great pass-rushing ability and high upside. If he is on the board at pick 4, he should be a no-brainer for New York. Adding the Oregon standout would make the Jets’ defense instantly much better.
R1, Pick 10 (Jets): Jameson Willams, WR, Alabama
Last season, New York was among the league’s worst in receiving talent. Although Elijah Moore had a promising rookie campaign, Corey Davis and Denzel Mims were huge let-downs. Mims was a total mess, dropping passes, and Davis also had a drop issue. Since Joe Douglas didn’t add a receiver in free agency, he must add one early in the draft. Jameson Willams out of Alabama is the perfect player to complement Elijah Moore and possibly be the team’s WR1 right away. Williams is a complete speedster, and as long as he stays healthy in the league, he will be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
With top-notch speed and excellent hands, Williams, 21 years old, would be a huge part of the Jets’ offense and would give young quarterback Zach Wilson another much-needed wideout.
R2, Pick 35 (Jets): Lewis Cine, S, Georgia
Two years ago, the Jets had arguably the best safety duo in the league with Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. Both of them are gone, and the team has started fresh at the position. Following a subpar 2021 season from Ashtyn Davis, the group decided to sign former Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead, who is best known for his run defense. He should provide an instant upgrade over what the team had last year at the position.
However, they need someone alongside them. Lamarcus Joyner is a solid depth piece but hasn’t proven to be a starting-caliber player. If the Jets draft Lewis Cine, he will provide the defense with some much-needed toughness, and Cine is an excellent tackler too. Cine, 22, should be atop Joe Douglas’ board on Friday night if he is still available.
R2, Pick 38: Leo Chanal, LB, Wisconsin
Another big weak spot on the Jets’ 2021 defense was their linebackers. As many know, the signing of Jarrad Davis was a massive failure. He was a complete liability all around, especially in coverage. Though C.J. Mosley registered 168 tackles, he was also terrible in coverage. So while the team is keeping him for 2022, they still need to add a game-changer at the position.
Adding Wisconsin’s Leo Chenal would do wonders for Robert Saleh’s defense. While the team drafted two linebackers in the later rounds last year, Chanal would be a Day 1 starter, unlike them. Chanal, 21, is a great tackler and great run defender. New York was one of the worst teams stopping the run in 2021, and he should help improve that part of the defense.
R3, Pick 69: Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State
New York’s offensive line is currently solid. The guard situation is in good hands for the long term, and George Fant is coming off a career season. However, there is some uncertainty regarding Mekhi Becton and his health. Adding a backup tackle like Nicholas Petit-Frere would give New York some depth at the position in case Becton or Fant goes down.
R4, Pick 111: Matt Henningsen, DT, Wisconsin
After losing Foley Fatukusi to the Jaguars in Free Agency, the Jets need another rotational run-stopper. Adding Wisconsin’s Matt Henningsen brings fuel to the Jets’ defensive line. He is a strong player capable of making anything happen with his explosiveness. Picking him in Round 4 would be excellent value for New York.
R4, Pick 117: Cole Strange, IOL, Chattanooga
While New York is set at the guard position for the near future, adding depth can’t hurt. With Greg Van Roten likely to be cut in the coming weeks, Chattanooga’s Cole Strange could be the team’s next backup guard.
R5, Pick 146: Tyler Allgeier, RB, BYU
Don’t get it twisted: Michael Carter is still the Jets RB1. However, they should add a complementary back to backup Carter, and BYU’s Tyler Allgeier is a great fit. This would also reunite Allgeier with Zach Wilson, as they were teammates at BYU in 2020.
R5, Pick 163: Mario Goodrich, CB, Clemson
While the Jets cornerback room has improved over the past year, it could still use some depth. According to many in this draft, a diamond in the rough is Clemson’s corner, Mario Goodrich. He would be the team’s CB5 or 6, but he provides excellent depth.