Jets general manager Joe Douglas had just wrapped up a post-draft news conference with a beaming head coach Robert Saleh. He was pleased with this three-day haul, but there would be no "drop-the-mic" moment on April 30. The Jets beefed up their roster with seven picks -- a deft exhibition of knowing when to trade up (Day 1), when to trade up again (Day 2) and when to quickly make two early picks and stand pat (Day 3).
Douglas held on to the No. 4 pick (Cincinnati CB Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner) and the No. 10 pick (Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson). Then Douglas, sensing an opportunity to snatch another highly rated player, engineered a multi-faceted deal with Tennessee that resulted in a third pick among the first 32 at No. 26 (Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II). The Green & White then landed the top-rated running back, trading picks with the Giants to select Iowa State's Breece Hall.
The world of NFL analysts, media, pundits and experts spoke and wrote effusively in declaring that the Jets were among the winners in the draft.
Here are some of comments and opinions:
• Chad Reuter, NFL.com, Grade A: "Jets fans were thrilled to see the team get an outstanding corner in [Ahmad 'Sauce'] Gardner, elusive receiver in [Garrett] Wilson and power rusher in [Jermaine] Johnson all in the first round. General manager Joe Douglas moved up to get Johnson and Hall (the best back in the draft) without losing significant value. He chose [Jeremy] Ruckert over other needs in the third, but the former Buckeye has the potential to be a nice blocker/receiver as a pro. [Max] Mitchell will be at least a valuable swing tackle on Sundays, if not a starter on the right side. The Jets added another power rusher in [Micheal] Clemons on Day 3, but their lack of picks in Rounds 5-7 means they'll have to add some top-notch undrafted free agents."
• Mark Maske, The Washington Post, Grade A: "You're supposed to do well when you have the fourth and 10th picks. The Jets did more than well, getting CB Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner at No. 4 and WR Garrett Wilson at No. 10, then trading back into the first round to land pass rusher Jermaine Johnson II at No. 26. RB Breece Hall in the second round and TE Jeremy Ruckert in the third round also amounted to productive moves. Skepticism generally is in order when the Jets are involved, but this has the look of a fantastic draft class."
• Conor Orr, si.com, Grade A: "I'm not sure people understand how difficult a job Joe Douglas had and how far the roster has come. With this class, the team should be able to start seeing some results. The Jets also needed more players intimately familiar with the way offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur wants to run his offense."
• Nate Davis, USA Today, Grade A+: "It may seem easy or even lazy to praise the team that had three-first round selections, and that's partly attributable to the Jets 2021 record. But it goes deeper than that. GM Joe Douglas fully reaped the rewards this year of offloading S Jamal Adams and QB Sam Darnold – players he didn't draft – which is really why the Jets had so much draft capital. And it sure appeared that Douglas leveraged it wisely. If the Jets ever are going to get off the tarmac, Douglas' past two drafts will almost certainly be the primary reason."
• Chris Trapasso, CBSsports.com, Grade B+: "With an abundance of picks, the Jets were positioned to crush this draft. I like what they did. But not as much as the masses."
• Mel Kiper, ESPN, Grade A: "The Jets selected my top-ranked corner in Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner (4) and my top-ranked wideout in Garrett Wilson (10), each of whom have All-Pro skill sets. Then they moved back into Round 1 to take Jermaine Johnson II (26), who had fallen down the board. He is a really solid, all-around defensive end who had 12 sacks last season and was the best prospect at the Senior Bowl where the Jets coaching staff worked the weeklong event] in January. And still, Douglas & Co. had an early-second round pick to get a good player, and they landed my top-ranked running back, [Breece Hall. That's three of my top prospects at their respective positions drafted by the Jets -- and an awesome class from Douglas. Overall, this is one of the best groups of 2022."
• PFF.com, Grade A-: "Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner is a strong fit in Robert Saleh's defense, and it's hard to poke holes in his profile from size to athleticism to college production. Gardner allowed just 43% of the passes thrown into his coverage to be completed across his three seasons with the Bearcats. The Jets continue to add talent around second-year quarterback Zach Wilson with a 6-foot, 184-pound wide receiver who wins in space before and after the catch. Garrett Wilson averaged over 3 yards per route run in each of the last two seasons at Ohio State. Jermaine Johnson, the Florida State product, who also played at Georgia and the JUCO level, was one of the biggest winners at the Senior Bowl, impressing scouts so much that he opted out of the final day of practice and the game. The Jets were clearly worried that Houston had its sights set on a running back at Pick No. 37, jumping the Texans to land their RB1. Breece Hall has outstanding contact balance, can produce as a receiver and tested extremely well athletically at the combine. Jeremy Ruckert is arguably the best blocking tight end in the draft class and has uber-reliable ball skills. After drafting several skill players earlier this draft, the Jets finally decided to help out Wilson from a protection standpoint. Max Mitchell."
See images of all seven members in the 2022 draft class.
• Alex Ballantine, Bleacher Report, Grade A: "The New York Jets needed a transformational draft class, and that's exactly what this has the potential to be. The Jets had to nail this draft, and general manager Joe Douglas did just that."
• Jordan Dajani, CBSsports.com, Grade A: "General manager Joe Douglas crushed this draft. The Jets landed cornerback Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner at No. 4 overall, and then Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson at No. 10. They were seen by many as the top players at their respective positions, and both will be immediate-impact guys. They traded back into the first round to select Florida State pass-rusher Jermaine Johnson. New York scored what may be three top 10 players on Day 1! The Jets also made a couple of other intriguing picks. They took former Iowa State running back Breece Hall in the second round, who may be the No. 1 back in this class, and then Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert in the third round, who is considered by some to be the top tight end in this draft class."
• Jeremy Fowler, ESPN SportsCenter: "The New York Jets are getting some unusual love. They usually don't get praise around the league, but I talked to execs who said they had a strong draft. And to be sure, they said they had to, right? If you're picking first, second, there's a lot in the top 10, four picks in the top 38 overall, that's because you've been having bad seasons, which the Jets have had winning four to five games a year. But they capitalized on those picks. Jermaine Johnson, the guy they got 26th overall, was widely considered by some scouts as sort of a top-15 player. And then you go and get Breece Hall, he's in that top 15-to-20 overall pool, and they got him early in the second round in a trade up. So a really strong performance from the Jets."
• Vinny Iyer, The Sporting News, Grade A+: "The Jets could have destroyed this draft with GM Joe Douglas and HC Robert Saleh just based on the fact they somehow got three top-10 overall players in the first round, all three fitting big needs for alpha playmakers at corner, wideout and pass rusher. [Jeremy] Ruckert was their worst pick based on their roster and he still is a strong talent. They were smart to add a developmental right tackle in [Max] Mitchell and get additional sack potential in [Micheal] Clemons. With [Garrett] Wilson further upgrading the passing game for Zach Wilson, [Breece] Hall can have the same complementary explosive impact with Michael Carter."