Before this past offseason, the overall consensus surrounding the New York Jets was that the team needed an influx of talent. Between their ample cap space and draft capital, many said the Jets had to “win” the offseason and not strike out in any aspect. In free agency, the team began the process of infusing talent into what was the youngest roster in the NFL in 2021. LG Laken Tomlinson, S Jordan Whitehead, CB D.J Reed, and TEs C.J Uzomah and Tyler Conklin were the major additions for the Jets in free agency; these players all addressed areas of the roster that were major issues in 2021 and add an influx of talent to the roster.

In terms of the draft capital, the Jets added top talents that are expected to act in tandem with the 2021 draft class to serve as the team’s present and future foundation. The Jets ended up making 3 first round selections, having two original first round picks and then trading for the third. At number 4 overall the Jets chose Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, the CB out of Cincinnati. The Jets then selected WR Garrett Wilson and EDGE Jermaine Johnson at picks 10 and 23, respectively.

Round 2 brought another trade, as the Jets moved up to select Iowa State RB Breece Hall. The team then rounded out their draft with Ohio State TE Jeremey Ruckert, Louisiana OL Max Mitchell, and Texas A&M EDGE Micheal Clemons.

This Jets draft class has been widely praised, as much and sometimes even more than the teams’ moves in free agency. Gardner, the Jets’ first overall selection, was seen as the best overall cornerback in the draft class by draft analysts such as Daniel Jeremiah. Standing at 6’3 and weighing 200 pounds, he was able to completely shut down a side of the field with elite man coverage; Gardner did not let up a single touchdown over his three years at Cincinnati.

Wilson brings elite ability after the catch, making people miss and not going down after first contact. He is a solid route runner as well, creating space for himself and having “strong sideline awareness.” when operating in tight situations. Even at six foot, Wilson is able to attack the ball in the air and use very bit of his frame to win at the catch point.

Johnson adds immediate value in defending both the run and the pass. While not considered to have elite bend or athleticism, Johnson consistently sets the edge in the run game and uses a variety of pass rush moves to get after the quarterback. Jeremiah said Johnson possesses ” ideal size, length and quickness”.

Breece Hall brings a three-down, all-around element that is not currently on the roster. Possessing above-average speed and quickness, Hall is able to work in-between the tackles with a 5’11, 237 pound frame. On top of his elite running ability, he has elusiveness and explosiveness that allows him to make big plays happen; Hall of Fame Running Back LaDainian Tomlinson said Hall is “a dynamic guy that can do it all” and has “great cutting ability and what I like in Mike LaFleur’s offense, as they run a lot of perimeter plays, great patience, great vision to cut the football back.” Outside of the running ability, Hall also is a good receiver and pass protector. Jeremiah called him “an outstanding weapon in the passing game as a clean route runner with exceptional hands.”

Ruckert adds on to a TE room that includes the aforementioned Uzomah and Conklin. Most likely the number 3 TE to begin the season, Ruckert adds a blocking element that is vital to their offense while also being a potential red-zone target when used in 2 TE formations. NFL Network’s Peter Schrager called Ruckert the best “value pick of the 2022 Draft, saying that “Every time he touched the ball, he made an impact. He scored five touchdowns last year, he was all over the field and he blocked.”

Mitchell will serve as a swing tackle for the team to start off his career, offering versatility and depth to an offensive line that dealt with extensive injuries last season. In a similar fashion on defense, Clemons adds depth to the defensive line and has the potential to make an instant impact with how frequent the Jets like to rotate their players there.

The Jets players and coaching staff have already seen the impact the rookie class could potentially bring. Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich stated that Gardner “doesn’t repeat errors,” when going through practice. Ulbrich also said, “He’s a guy that is so hungry to learn. If he gets beat, most of the time he just figure it out on his own because he has such a good football brain, and a thirst for the game and a thirst to get better and learn and grow. But if he doesn’t figure it out, he’ll go immediately to TO (Tony Oden), to Marquand (Manuel), myself, whoever and figure it out. And it doesn’t show up again. He’s going to have his lumps and his rookie moments which they all do, but at the same time there’s not going be a lot of them. Probably less than most.”

In regards to Johnson, Ulbrich said he is a ” big, long athlete” that can move well. “He’s got explosion, he’s got speed, he’s got bend – all the stuff that rushers need to have from a physical standpoint.”

On the offensive side of the ball, OC Mike LaFluer said WR Garrett Wilson is a “versatile, good football player” that “understands” the game. “He’s been here, he’s been full throttle trying to learn this system, learn the ins and outs of the league. Like I said, he’s a unique versatility in terms of he can play outside, he can play a little bit of inside, he’s got the lower half to separate, he’s got the hands. “

LaFluer also discussed Hall, saying how the rookie RB is a “fluid mover” and has the ability to “sneak up” on defenders. Elaborating on the later point, LaFluer also stated, “He’s 220 pounds, and he’s covering a lot of yardage when he doesn’t look like he’s covering a lot of yardage. He’s fast, so he gets up on people pretty quick. And then he’s such a fluid, big-body target that when he makes his move it’s not like a smaller running back when you feel like you have to put it on them. He’s got a big catch radius and I know the quarterback is going to feel that.

QB Zach Wilson added that Garrett Wilson has the right “mindset” and discussed his overall receiving ability. “He has a freakish ability to adjust in the air and find the ball, his route running ability. I’m really excited for him to just keep developing and growing and see where he can get going into training camp this year and in the season because I think he can be a great weapon for us,” said Zach Wilson.

With all of the praise that the draft class has received, the most important part is how the talent will translate to the field. If Gardner and Johnson can make good on the promise they offer, then the Jets will have a lockdown corner and an edge threat for years to come. Wilson and Hall panning out would give the Jets a lethal 1-2 combination of Wilson and Elijah Moore while also having a workhorse back to take pressure off of Zach Wilson. Ruckert, Mitchell, and Clemons add depth as of now, but any production from them going forward would only bolster the overall status of the draft class.

Between the 2021 and 2022 draft classes, Joe Douglas has bet on what the foundation of the Jets will be for years to come. The 2021 class offered promise in many different aspects and now look to build upon their production this season. it remains to be seen how the 2022 class will look in their rookie year; there will be bumps in the road and not every player will immediately play to their best. But if this draft class can show why they were worthy of their selections and help move the team forward, the Jets will be in a very good position. This recent draft class is the key cog in the organization’s progression, as if they can capitalize on their potential, the Jets will be much closer to breaking their long playoff drought and becoming a contender in the AFC.