The New York Jets have been in rebuilding mode for a while now. This year, they brought in a new head coach in Robert Saleh and they hit the reset button at their most important position by drafting Zach Wilson second overall.
It’s clear that this rebuild is still in the beginning stages since the Jets haven’t enjoyed an incredible measure of success this season. With three wins already in 2021, New York has surpassed their total from last year. But that bar was so low, and they’re still in desperate need of help at several positions.
The good news for the Jets is that they’ve got solid draft capital for 2022: nine picks total with two picks each in the first, second, fourth, and fifth rounds, plus one pick in the third. Using our Mock Draft Machine, I took a shot at filling some of the needy areas in the Jets’ roster with 2022 college prospects in this seven-round mock.
Round 1 (No. 4 Overall): Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Stingley would be a fantastic cornerstone for the Jets’ secondary. He’s an incredible competitor with elite ball skills who thrives in press-man coverage. If he fell out of the top three, Stingley would be a huge gift to a New York pass defense currently giving up the fourth-most passing yards per game in the NFL. With Stingley on one side and Bryce Hall entering his third year on the other, the Jets could really become a tough team to pass against.
Round 1 (No. 5 Overall): Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
With some incredible luck, two of the top defenders out of the 2022 class were still on the board for back-to-back Jets picks. There’s a (really good) argument to be made that Aidan Hutchinson deserves to be the first name off the board in the upcoming draft. He’s an unbelievably talented athlete that would anchor a New York defensive line alongside DE Carl Lawson, who should return from his Achilles tear next season. Hutchinson has proved time and time again that he knows how to win off the edge with a good release at the line of scrimmage—his 13 sacks this season back that up.
Round 2 (No. 46 Overall): Jaxson Kirkland, OT, Washington
If you’ve watched any Jets games this year, it is exceedingly obvious that there is work to be done on the offensive line, especially with a young quarterback under center. A left tackle who has played guard in the past, Kirkland epitomizes what the Jets need. He’s a great run blocker, quick off the snap with strong technique, and he’s a hard man to beat in the passing game with his range and hand placement. With Mekhi Becton healthy on the other side, he and Kirkland would be two great blocking pieces for Wilson up front.
Round 2 (No. 51 Overall): Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
A physical defender and strong blitzer, Harris is a great athlete with a quickness and agility that also allows him to be a strong zone defender. With C.J. Mosey’s production on the decline, struggling in run and pass situations, Harris could be a spark plug for New York’s corps of linebackers. His physicality and desire to make plays make him a dangerous defender, and he’s not scared to be the one to lay a big hit.
Round 3 (No. 67 Overall): Isaiah Likely, TE, Coastal Carolina
Likely is one of this class’ best receiving tight end prospects. With the Jets addressing their offensive line earlier in this draft, Likely would probably see more reps away from the formation. His 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame makes him an athletic mismatch creating separation, and his skills as a receiver make him a great pass-catching addition to the Jets offense.
Round 4 (No. 116 Overall): Markquese Bell, S, Florida A&M
With Marcus Maye likely on the way out of New York, Joe Douglas will need to find a good replacement at the safety position. Bell is a great day-three option here, with a strong profile in both run and pass defending in zone and man coverage. He’s a versatile player and a hard hitter, and his flexibility makes him a very well-rounded defender to add to the Jets’ secondary.
Round 4 (No. 123 Overall): Tre Turner, WR, Virginia Tech
Jamison Crowder and Keelan Cole are becoming free agents after this year, so it would behoove the Jets to add another weapon to their passing game after Likely. Turner is a great receiver with a good catch radius and adjusting ability. He’s a dangerous weapon once he gets the ball in his hands, and his ability to win downfield often gives him the chance to prove it. In an era where we’re beginning to see more hybrid players, Turner has proven his ability to run the ball too, with 53 career rush attempts for 456 yards.
Round 5 (No. 158 Overall): Cade Mays, IOL, Tennessee
Remember how I said this Jets offensive line could use some help? New York will want to continue to do their due diligence to protect their quarterback, and Mays provides some extra help here in the interior. With just one year left on current right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif’s contract, adding someone who could fill that spot would be a smart move. With rookie Alijah Vera-Tucker improving at left guard, Mays could further bolster that needy Jets O-line.
Round 5 (No. 161 Overall) Zonovan Knight, RB, NC State
With Michael Carter looking like a possible breakout star in recent weeks, the Jets could still use another guy in that backfield to take the load off. Knight is a super physical back who is good at working through early contact. With Carter more of an off-tackle runner, Knight could be the between tackles runner to complement the Jets’ backfield starter.