When the Jets drafted Max Mitchell in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the expectation was that the the Louisiana product would have time to develop.
One week into training camp, he was taking first-team reps because of injuries along the offensive line, for example to Mekhi Becton. Mitchell then took the most snaps on the team in the preseason and started the first four weeks of the season because of Duane Brown's shoulder injury.
"You know, I came into the league like I came into college -- I was expected to be redshirted or whatever and yet just kind of thrusted into this position," Mitchell said. "I think that's the best way to learn. It ended up being a lot of fun. Stressful, but super fun."
He added of feedback from the coaching staff: "They were happy with how I came in, handled myself and stepped into that starting role with filling in for everybody. They want to see some more next year, obviously. They're excited for me, they think I have great potential. We're all ready for next year."
Mitchell finished his rookie season with five starts under his belt, all at right tackle. He sustained a knee injury in Week 4 at Pittsburgh and was activated from injured reserve before the Week 12 matchup against the Bears. His rookie year ended two weeks later when tests showed he was dealing with blood clots.
See the top photos of the 2022 Jets rookies during their first season.
Mitchell was placed on the non-football injury list, but will continue to train this offseason.
"When you get to this level, it's minute stuff," he said. "Training my pass set, my explosiveness. I'll take a look back at all my game film. I have definitely some stuff in mind, but just get better and faster and stronger."
Mitchell, the second-to-last pick in general manager Joe Douglas' 2022 class, showcases the depth of the group. All seven selections played significant roles as rookies. CB Sauce Gardner, selected No. 4 overall, was named an All-Pro and Pro Bowl player while co-leading the NFL with 20 pass defenses. WR Garrett Wilson, No. 10 overall, was named a Pro Bowl alternate and became the first Jets rookie to eclipse 1,000 yards receiving.
RB Breece Hall, selected in Round 2, was on pace for more than 1,600 scrimmage yards before his season was ended in Week 7 with a torn ACL. DE Jermaine Johnson, the third of three first-round picks, had 2.5 sacks and was a big part of the defensive line rotation along with fellow rookie Micheal Clemons, the fourth-round pick that rounded out the Green & White's selections. Johnson and Clemons each blocked punts that resulted in points -- Johnson's in a safety and Clemons' in a touchdown.
"I think we had the best rookie class of the whole league in my opinion," Mitchell said. "We got nothing but upside. I think we've already started to change the culture. I think that's part of the guys in the room here that were already here from years past that realized there needs to be a change. I think we just helped catapult that change with some of the people that we brought in and how we played, but I think there's so much upside from what we're doing."