Dane Brugler was on the clock the moment he arrived home from Las Vegas after the 2022 NFL Draft.
"I got home from Vegas late Monday night and my 9-month-old daughter was waiting up for me," the draft guru for The Athletic told team reporter Ethan Greenberg in their final draft review. "She was excited to see me."
After months and months immersed in the major themes and the minutiae involving hundreds of college players, Brugler is ready for a break and some quality time at home. Just as he can see the light at the end of the tunnel and gets to unplug, Brugler said the Jets' seven-man draft was "my favorite."
"I'm not using some analytical formula, it's just from my gut," Brugler said. "I just love what they did. Teams with multiple first-round picks have a clear advantage because they're getting more players, better players. I love Sauce [Ahmad Gardner], he was my top cornerback. [Garrett] Wilson was my top receiver. [Jermaine] Johnson, we've talked about how the Jets really liked him and how it must have pained them to pass on No. 10. But then to be able to come back and still get him, that's huge.
"Top to bottom, I love what they did. They only had seven picks, but they nailed each one."
He added: "It starts with drafting three of the top eight players on your board. They got three really good players in the first round [Gardner, Wilson and Johnson]; two good offensive players on Day 2 [RB Breece Hall and TE Jeremy Ruckert] and then add two fourth-rounders [OL Max Mitchell and DL Micheal Clemons] as part of long-term plans. If I'm Zach Wilson, I'm getting excited. They're surrounding me with really good players, now it's up to me to go make things happen.
"We've seen what [GM] Joe [Douglas] and his staff did with the picks. They've been aggressive, but at the same time they understand there's a plan. They're not just throwing darts. They all understand there's a plan in place."
Here's a pick-by-pick look, through Brugler's eyes, of the Jets' seven 2022 draft picks:
CB Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner; Round 1, No. 4 overall: "He's worthy of being the No. 4 overall pick. There's no arguing he was one of the best players on the board. Big-time speed, length. This guy wasn't thrown at last year and he still had three interceptions. There's confidence he'll bring to the room and to the field immediately. They certainly got better, no doubt. It will be interesting to see how they use each one of these corners. Sauce is the true outside guy, [D.J.] Reed [signed in free agency] on the inside and competition at other positions. It's not about replacing players, it's about upgrading and creating competition, especially at a position like cornerback. They certainly did that this offseason."
WR Garrett Wilson; Round 1, No. 10 overall: "What he brings to the Jets, the wide receivers room, is what I'm most excited about. He can play anywhere on offense: inside, outside, XYZ, motion, all over the backfield. You don't have to pigeonhole him. He can do everything and give you flexibility in the wide receivers room. He's not the biggest guy [6-0], his size won't blow you away. But the strength he brings to the field, the speed, body control, ball skills ... he just makes the playbook come alive. He's an igniter of your offense. For Zach, he's a shiny new toy to play with and he's going to help to make you better. Now you have to go make things happen."
DE Jermaine Johnson; Round 1, No. 26 overall: "I'm surprised he was there at No. 26 because pass rushers don't last that long in the NFL Draft. I knew how much they liked him and then Joe D. started making calls when he dropped past No. 15. [The Jets ultimately traded picks No. 35, No. 69 and No. 163 to move up nine spots and select Johnson plus a fourth-rounder who ended up begin T Max Mitchell.] He'll come in and play the run and get after the quarterback. I don't know if he's going to be a Pro Bowler, but he'll be an above average pro for a long time in my opinion. He took a chance on himself, leaving Georgia and going to FSU. He's long, athletic, he can stand up, put his hand on the ground inside or outside the tackle or head up over tackle. His get off is OK, but that's not what makes him dangerous."
RB Breece Hall; Round 2, No. 36 overall: "Personally, I like Kenneth Walker better, but it's hard to argue with this pick. He had 41 rushing TDs the last two years, an FBS record of 24 straight games with a rushing TD. The guy just finds the end zone. He's not that explosive, but he's not a slug out there. What's most impressive are his patience, instincts and decision making. As a pass catcher he can get better in protection, but he has a base you can work off. If you're nitpicking, this is not a guy with a ton of negatives. He brings a lot to the room and to the field."
TE Jeremy Ruckert; Round 3, No. 101 overall: "We love what they did at tight end in free agency [signing C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin], rebuilding the room. Then you drop a Ruckert in there, who can learn from those guys. He's a guy who can do everything you want in a tight end: run routes and catch the football. Love it. I love the fit, what he adds to the room. Toward the end of Year 3 how are we going to be talking about Ruckert? There's a lot of optimism that he can be the eventual starter. He offered too much value to pass up in the third round."
See the top images of Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson and Jermaine Johnson during their tour of the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center after being selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
OL Max Mitchell; Round 4, No. 111 overall: "With a player like Mitchell, you have to trust the tape. At the Combine he did not test like a lot of scouts expected. His 40 time was not great, his three-cone time was not great. But when you watch the tape, you see a guy who loves to mix things up. He can really grow into being a steady pass blocker, a zone-run blocker who fits exactly what the team is looking for. He might need a little bit of time in the crockpot just to finish him a little bit."
DE Micheal Clemons; Round 4, No. 117 overall: "If you want to be impressed, throw in the LSU tape. He's so long, 35-inch arms, his hands are so heavy and he has the ability to attack blockers and then work off them. He already owns the NFL physical traits, he looks the part. I don't think, when his teammates are first going to see him, they're going to realize he's a rookie. He's going to be part of the rotations from the get-go, as long as he can handle the playbook. He has that versatility and can be a strong part of the rotation."