Jets HC Robert Saleh has repeatedly said GM Joe Douglas is prepared to step up to the plate and take a big swing. And on Day 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft, the consensus is Douglas hit a home run with the Jets' haul.
Douglas held on to the No. 4 pick (Cincinnati CB Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner) and the No. 10 pick (Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson). Then, sensing an opportunity to snatch another highly rated player, he engineered a multifaceted deal with Tennessee that resulted in a third pick among the first 32 at No. 26 (Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II).
The world of NFL analysts, pundits and experts spoke with one voice in praising the Jets for their Round 1 acquisitions.
Here are some of comments and opinions:
Jeffri Chadiha, columnist at NFL.com, called Douglas as the overall winner of the draft.
"The Jets' general manager crushed it in the first round. He wound up with Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner with the fourth overall pick. He landed Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson with the 10th overall selection. He then traded up to grab Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson II, a prospect considered by many to be a probable top-10 pick, with the 26th overall selection. Nabbing just two of those players would've made for a great night. Adding all three gives the Jets the type of optimism for the future that this franchise has long needed. They found two potential difference-makers for Robert Saleh's defense and a polished target for second-year quarterback Zach Wilson. Well done."
Chad Reuter, draft analyst at NFL.com, said that the Jets hit on all cylinders.
"I doubt the Jets were put off by the Texans taking Derek Stingley Jr., at No. 3, as it's entirely possible GM Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh had targeted Gardner from the start. The former Bearcat seemingly only fell short of winning the Jim Thorpe Award (top DB in college football) because QBs were wary of throwing his way. Gardner's height, length and utter tenacity (against the run as well as the pass) give him a shot to be a Patrick Surtain or Stephon Gilmore-type defender.
"New York used the final pick from the Jamal Adams trade to select Wilson at No. 10. The former Buckeye is a versatile player who I love to watch catch passes away from his frame. He can handle responsibilities inside and outside, and though he's not an overly physical receiver, his routes are good enough to separate downfield.
"Johnson is a versatile and strong edge rusher -- something the team desperately needed. He led Florida State in sacks last year and was solid against the run, as well. Getting a player of his caliber at No. 26 overall -- without giving up a tone of assets -- was a nice value."
Bucky Brooks, draft analyst at NFL.com, thinks Douglas hit a stand-up triple.
"The Cincinnati star [Gardner] displays exceptional bump-and-run skills, but he is also an instinctive defender with the capacity to thrive as a ballhawk in zone coverage. An aggressive tackler with underrated talents as a pass rusher off the edge, the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder should be a premier corner early in his career.
"Wilson is a polished playmaker with A-plus route-running ability and ball skills. The Ohio State product could thrive as a WR1 or WR2 in an offense that features skilled route runners on the perimeter.
"The Florida State standout [Johnson] can win with speed or power off the edge while also displaying enough grit to set the edge as a run defender. Johnson is a potential double-digit sack artist who stands to earn all-star accolades early in his career."
Cynthia Frelund, NFL Network analytics expert, said the Jets went for value.
"As I've done in previous years, I'm using a model I developed that projects future player performance in the context of the franchise they ended up in to quantify the impact of each pick. This means mapping out their production according to team personnel, coaching philosophies and opponents faced.
"Below, you'll find my model's five best values from Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft, weighing the players' projected output against where they were selected:
"The Jets added my model's No. 12 overall player [Johnson] near the bottom of the first round, which is really only a fraction of the value they added on Thursday. All three of the Jets' first-round picks (Sauce Gardner, No. 4; Garrett Wilson, No. 10) were at a top-five value position, helping the franchise add a whopping 2.25 wins — the most for any team (QBs excluded) in the first round in 10 seasons. Johnson had the second-most QB pressures (46) in the ACC in 2021, per PFF. The Jets will be counting on the rookie to generate that type of production as a pro, after the team ranked 30th in QB pressure rate (22.7%) last year, per Next Gen Stats."
Mel Kiper, ESPN analyst, says that Joe D. continues to show a nose for value and talent in the draft.
"I'm a big fan of these three picks. The Jets got my top-ranked corner and top-ranked wide receiver in the top 10, and then they got a potential steal late in the night in Johnson. Gardner is going to shut down one side of the field. He's long and fast, and he didn't allow a single touchdown as the primary defender in his collegiate career.
"Wilson is only 6-foot, so he's not a huge red-zone target like Drake London [taken by Atlanta with the No. 8 pick], but he plays bigger because of his long arms, leaping ability and excellent body control to come down with acrobatic catches. He's going to help Zach Wilson complete easy passes because of his ability to run after the catch. And by the way, Wilson is the first receiver the Jets have taken in Round 1 since Santana Moss in 2001.
"Johnson slid — he is my 11th-ranked prospect — and the Jets pounced, trading pick Nos. 35, 69 and 163 for Nos. 26 and 101. I thought it was possible they could have taken him at No. 10 if the board fell differently, so this is a home-run class so far for general manager Joe Douglas. And he still gets an early pick on Day 2 (No. 38) to get another starter."
See Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, Garrett Wilson and Jermaine Johnson on draft night in Las Vegas when they became Jets.
Todd McShay, ESPN draft analyst, called Johnson the "best pick of the night."
"Jermaine Johnson II, DE to the New York Jets. I'm amazed that the Jets managed to land three prospects whom I had 92-plus grades on. I thought Johnson might be a top-10 pick, so I absolutely love New York trading back into the first round to get him at No. 26. Johnson has a great first step, a strong motor and an arsenal of pass-rush moves. He'll immediately help the Jets' edge rush.
"I touched on it earlier, but man, the Jets did well on Thursday. Three high-level starters in cornerback Ahmad Gardner, receiver Garrett Wilson and, as mentioned, Johnson. And the Jets pick again at No. 38! New York played the board really well and can walk away confident it improved the roster in more than one way.
Jordan Reid, ESPN draft analyst, said that the Jets filled needs.
"They arguably had the best night of any team across the board. Adding three first-round picks in Gardner, Wilson and Johnson was an unforeseeable outcome entering Thursday. All three positions needed a boost, and each prospect was seen as a potential top-10 selection."