The Jets began Round 2 with a trade and a bang. They moved up two spots from the38th spot that they held from the Sam Darnold trade with Carolina in 2021, while sending their fifth-round pick to the Giants in a trade between stadium mates.
And with that No. 36 selection, the Jets then selected Iowa State's Breece Hall, making him the first back taken in this year's draft.
Hall (5-11, 217), after finishing an accomplished three-year career in the Cyclones' zone scheme, joins the Jets' running back room and depth chart along with second-year man Michael Carter, the Jets' leading rusher as a rookie last year, plus re-signed veteran Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson, La'Mical Perine, Austin Walter and FB Nick Bawden.
"Jets fans are getting a three-down back, a guy that can catch the ball, make people miss, run you over," Hall said after the selection. "Somebody that plays hard. And a person who's just as good off the field as he is on the field. So a guy that's going to impact the community anbd be more than a football player."
Robert Saleh explained the attraction that the Jets saw in Hall the football player even as late as Round 1, when Joe Douglas started working the phones trying to trade into the opening round for the second time on Thursday night. He didn't succeed that second time, but then orchestrated the pick with the Giants to move up two spots at the top of Round 2.
"The opportunity to add Breece is kind of a unique one in the sense that he is explosive," the Jets head coach said after Friday's drafting had concluded. "To add someone like Breece who is a home run hitter, who can take it .. part of the goal was to add some guys that when they touch the ball they can take it 80."
Saleh said Hall also fits very nicely into the Jets' crowded, talented running backs room.
"Our group is pretty explosive now between Michael [Carter], him, Tevin Coleman, Ty [Johnson], I'm really excited to see what [La'Mical] Perine looks like in his third year, and Austin [Walter]," the coach said. "Michael never gets tackled by the first guy. Breece just has a slipperiness to make people miss. Tevin [Coleman] runs his absolute tail off. Ty [Johnson]'s a really good third-down back. That's a really cool, group of guys."
Hall totaled 3,941 rush yards on 718 carries (5.5 yards/carry) and 50 touchdowns in his three seasons, and really turned it on as a starter in '20 (1,572 rush yards to lead FBS, 21 TDs) and '21 (1,472 rush yards, topping the Big 12, 20 TDs), securing consensus first-team All-America and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year honors both seasons.
Additionally, he had 82 receptions for 734 yards (9.0 yards/catch) and six more TDs in his ISU career. Then at the NFL Combine, he put a 4.39-second time up on the board in the 40.
Hall hails from a family that knows how to play the game of football. His stepfather, Jeff Smith, was a RB at Nebraska, was selected in the 10th round of the 1985 NFL Draft by Kansas City and playing four seasons for the Chiefs and Buccaneers. And cousin Roger Craig played 11 NFL seasons and won three Super Bowls with the 49ers.
NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein compares Hall to Matt Forté, the productive Bears back who finished his NFL career with two seasons on the Jets.
"Hall isn't very sudden in tight quarters but gets better as the run play progresses with good vision and an above-average sense for how to beat second-level tacklers," Zierlein said. "He has surprising build-up speed once he's in the open field but might not have the instant gas to become a plus outside runner. His running style is willful when it needs to be and he's adept at moving the chains on 'got to have it' short-yardage carries. He has full-package, three-down talent with surprisingly soft hands out of the backfield and should find early touches as a Day 2 draft pick with above-average potential."
Hall is the eighth Iowa State product drafted all-time by the Jets and the earliest Cyclone ever taken by the Green & White. Three of the previous seven Iowa Staters got some playing time with the Jets, including DE Kenny Neil (1981, Round 7, 169th overall), RB Dwayne Crutchfield (1982, Round 3, 79th) and NT James Reed, the ISU player with the longest Jets tenure at 80 games and 17 starts from 2001-05.