Jets 2022 NFL draft picks review: Joe Douglas nails it

Once upon a time, in 2000, the Jets used four first-round draft picks to build a lasting playoff contender.

Could history repeat itself?

The Jets made four of the first 36 picks, including three first-rounders, in the 2022 NFL Draft as they try to build a team that will make the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Pressured to deliver big third draft at the helm, general manager Joe Douglas might have delivered the Jets’ best draft ever…on paper. They’ll be on the field soon enough.

Here are The Post’s pick-by-pick grades for the Jets’ draft class:

Round 1, No. 4 overall: Sauce Gardner (CB, Cincinnati)

Forget all the talk about defensively-focused head coach Robert Saleh’s plan not valuing cornerbacks. Gardner was the best player available — and the Jets added him with a chip on shoulder because the Texans grabbed cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. in front of them. He conceded 13 catches for 117 yards last season and didn’t give up a touchdown in 33 career games. A major leap in competition is on the horizon, but his swagger is unwavering.

Class: A

Ahmed Gardner
Ahmed Gardner
Getty Images

Round 1, No. 10 overall: Garrett Wilson (WR, Ohio State)

How about this for a smart process? After Douglas was reportedly offered and turned down the 49ers’ choice for receiver Deebo Samuel, he was forced to choose between Wilson and edge rusher Jermaine Johnson. He correctly predicted what was to come – a run on receiver – and picked up the second of four in a five-pick span. Wilson made 70 receptions for 1,058 yards — many after breaking tackles or surpassing the pursuit — and 12 touchdowns last season.

Class: A

Round 1, No. 26 overall: Jermaine Johnson (EDGE, Florida State)

The Jets got away with three of their top 8 players – a coup as long as their estimates are correct. It was clear other teams weren’t as high on the one-year wonder, and the Georgia transfer kept slipping. Saleh called Johnson the “most pro-leaning pass rusher this year,” which is a big statement when the first two picks were pass rushers. Johnson’s 254-pound frame isn’t built for all defenses, but Saleh’s wide-9 is.

Class: A

Get the latest updates on every New York Jets pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, plus a hometown analysis from the New York Post.

Round 2, No. 36 overall: Breece Hall (RB, Iowa State)

The Jets were so swamped with picks from past trades that they were able to climb from 35th to 26th without giving up 38th. That got big as they looked to jump back from No. 38 to No. 36 for the Texans for first running back. Hall has the ideal skills: tough and elusive runner, reliable hands, clean routes and strong pass protection. He had 56 touchdowns in 36 collegiate games.

Class: A

Breece Hall runs with the ball.
Breece Hall is running with the ball for the state of Iowa.
Getty Images

Round 3, No. 101 overall: Jeremy Ruckert (TE, Ohio State)

An odd pick considering the Jets spent $44.2 million ($25 million guaranteed) on free-agent tight ends CJ Uzomah and Tyler Conklin. But the Jets developed a hard crush on Ruckert at the Senior Bowl — returning the love a lifelong Jets fan has for her — and jumped at the chance to take the best player available for insurance rather than attend to bigger needs. Ruckert is already an advanced blocker from Ohio State, but he has untapped receiving potential.

Class: B

Lap 4, 111th overall: Max Mitchell (OT, Louisiana)

Mitchell certainly isn’t ready to topple Mekhi Becton or George Fant like a first-rounder would have been had the Jets gone that way. He played tackle and guard on both sides during his career as a three-year starter—after starting for just a year on his high school team. The best case as a rookie is that he ousts Chuma Edoga as a swing tackle.

Class: C

Round 4, No. 117 overall: Michael Clemons (EDGE, Texas A&M)

Soon to be 25, Clemons first enrolled in community college in 2015, but last season was his first with more than four sacks (7.5). He comes with red flags after two arrests in three months, including a weapons charge. The Jets believe in throwing waves of fresh legs down the offensive line and he’s added to the rotation.

Class: B- Jets 2022 NFL draft picks review: Joe Douglas nails it


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