The New York Jets surprised the masses with their final selection of the 2022 NFL draft.
At pick No. 117 of the fourth round, general manager Joe Douglas did not trade down or attack a perceived position of need like linebacker or safety, he drafted another pass rusher, Texas A&M defensive end Micheal Clemons.
Not only that, Douglas broke one of his major rules, targeting a prospect with character concerns. Clemons was arrested in August 2021 on charges of marijuana possession, unlawful carrying of a weapon and failure to identify, according to Brazos County, Texas, court records.
Clemons was suspended for the first game of the season and later pleaded not guilty to two of the charges, which were dismissed in April 2022, and was sentenced to a fine after pleading guilty to marijuana possession, court records show.
Court records also show he pleaded no contest in September 2021 to driving with an invalid license in May 2020. According to the records, he also pleaded guilty in November 2021 to a charge of driving with an invalid license – enhanced in June 2021 after he failed to appear for his arraignment and was sentenced to nine months probation and restitution. He was also charged in August 2021 with parking in a handicap space without authorization and pleaded guilty in January 2022, court records show. He also pleaded no contest in January 2022 to a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia issued in August 2021, according to the records.
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Clemons Speaks on Charges
The Aggies’ defensive end told reporters on April 30 that he was “extremely grateful” to be drafted by the Jets, but it didn’t take long for his “off-field concerns” to become a topic of conversation.
“When you look at my character, that was a one-time incident,” Clemons replied after a long pause. “Things like that didn’t happen over the course of my life — I’ve been in trouble with the law once. That’s not who I am, that’s not what my character shows. It’s in the past now and I’ve learned from it, and [I’m] moving forward.”
Douglas was asked about Clemons’ legal history in a media conference the same day. The GM responded: “We were aware of some of those issues going into this process, part of the process is getting together with the player, having a security meeting regarding every player in the draft, and felt comfortable about adding him to the organization. We feel good about him not making those similar mistakes moving forward.”
Later, Douglas added that they feel the talent level is obviously high with Clemons. “Certainly, you could say that he’s a first, second-day talent level but then you get to a point in the draft and risk is mitigated somewhat, felt good about adding him where we added him.”
The Jets GM had referred to “Big Mike” as “one of the nastier players in this entire draft,” touting his physicality, edge and toughness on the gridiron.
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Jets Double-Down at Edge
After missing Carl Lawson all season in 2021, the Jets took no chances at edge rusher this offseason. First, they brought in Bradlee Anae and Jacob Martin in free agency. Then, they re-signed veteran defensive end Vinny Curry, who lost the 2021 campaign to medical issues caused by a rare blood disorder.
Finally, Douglas traded up for a third first-round pick to draft Jermaine Johnson II — before spending his final selection on Clemons. The Jets now have 10 or 11 NFL-caliber pass rushers heading toward minicamp — let the competition begin.
With so much depth at the position, the front office would not have gone after Clemons if they didn’t believe he was worthy of a roster spot.
NFL draft expert Lance Zierlein scouted the former JUCO recruit: “His movements are rigid and limiting at times, but his motor and play strength are qualities some teams see as building blocks for a successful career in more physically minded fronts.”
The Athletic’s lead draft analyst Dane Brugler described him as a “day 3 pick who could surprise.”
He wrote: “At 263 pounds with near 35-inch arms, Clemons looks like he is straight out of central casting, using his forward lean and strike power to create leverage points and rush opportunities. There are some similarities to John Franklin-Myers, who was also a fourth-round pick.”
The Texas A&M product finished the 2021 season with seven sacks, 11 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and a defensive touchdown.