The New York Jets added a lot of really interesting pieces in free agency this spring.
Although it is the additions from 2021 that they hope ends up making the biggest impact this upcoming season.
Last March, Gang Green invested over $45 million to bring in Carl Lawson from the Cincinnati Bengals. Throughout much of the offseason, he looked like the real deal but a ruptured Achilles robbed the talented pass rusher of his first season with the Jets.
Heading into 2022 he projects to be ready by training camp. All of the photos and videos from his camp indicate he’s in phenomenal shape and is ahead of schedule on his rehab.
While that is all well and good, the Jets have to hope for the best and expect the worst with this situation. Gang Green owes it to themselves to fill the pantry with as many pass rushers as possible because of Robert Saleh’s scheme and to protect themselves in case Lawson isn’t 100 percent.
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That Will Work out Beautifully
Fortunately, that is exactly what happened in ESPN’s latest mock draft. NFL draft analyst Jordan Reid put together a monster seven-round mock and in the first two rounds he made sure the green and white were stocked with pass rushers.
No. 4 overall (first-round): Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE rusher, Oregon
“The Jets need pass-rushers. Carl Lawson will return after tearing his Achilles in training camp last season, but they need more talent and depth,” Reid explained. “The franchise hasn’t had a player reach double-digit sacks since Muhammad Wilkerson in 2015. Pairing Thibodeaux alongside Lawson gives the Jets a formidable tandem moving forward.”
No. 38 overall (second-round): Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE rusher, Penn State
Here is more from Reid on that decision to double-dip in the draft:
“I projected the Jets to take Kayvon Thibodeaux in Round 1, and they could double up here. Ebiketie is a weakside end who could help as a pass-rusher early and be insurance in case Carl Lawson doesn’t return to form.”
From what scouts have told me this is arguably the deepest EDGE class in nearly a decade. With nine picks in the upcoming NFL draft, it would behoove the Jets to walk away from this class with at least two swings of the bat at pass rusher.
This scenario would provide the Jets with a fantastic 1-2 combination on paper in Lawson and Thibodeaux. If they stay healthy they’ll be your bookend pass rushers and the rest of the talented defensive line will rotate in.
If Lawson is unable to contribute as a full-time pass rusher, then the break the glass emergency step in can be Ebiketie out of Penn State. This is the type of aggression and commitment the front office needs to make at this positional group.
For this defense to succeed, they need to get home and take down the quarterback. They proved incapable in that department last year so upgrades are an absolute must in the draft.
Sneak Peek at the Rest of the Mock
Reid ended up projecting all of the 262 selections in the 2022 NFL draft. Here is a look overall at what the Jets came away with from pillar to post:
No. 4 overall (first-round): Thibodeaux, EDGE rusher, Oregon
No. 10 overall (first-round): Garrett Wilson, wide receiver, Ohio State
No. 35 overall (second-round): Jaquan Brisker, safety, Penn State
No. 38 overall (second-round): Ebiketie, EDGE rusher, Penn State
No. 69 overall (third-round): Sean Rhyan, offensive lineman, UCLA
No. 111 overall (fourth-round): Jerome Ford, running back, Cincinnati
No. 117 overall (fourth-round): Otito Ogbonnia, defensive tackle, UCLA
No. 146 overall (fifth-round): Mykael Wright, cornerback, Oregon
No. 163 overall (fifth-round): Zamir White, running back, Georgia
Reid also added one more juicy nugget from the fifth round saying his favorite “prospect-team fit” was White to the Jets:
“One of the draft priorities for general manager Joe Douglas should be to find a running mate to play with Michael Carter. White is a tough and explosive runner who complements the versatile skill set of Carter. He had 22 rushing touchdowns over the past two seasons.”
Overall this class had a very nice balance and addressed nearly every need. A few spots were left untouched like linebacker and a young tight end, but you can’t fill every need in a single class.