It’s officially mock draft season now that we’ve passed December 1 and the New York Jets are one of the most important franchises to watch in the 2022 first round.
As we know, Joe Douglas has swindled his way into getting what’s projected to be a top 10 selection from the Seattle Seahawks in the Jamal Adams trade (July 2020). Couple that with the Green & White’s current top 10 pick and you have two monumental decisions to make in the early moments of next year’s draft.
After Week 12, the Jets currently sit on the clock at number four and five overall, with back-to-back podium trips in round one. Ironically, the Seahawks pick is now the lower of the two being that Seattle fell below New York in the standings after a loss against the Washington Football Team on Monday Night Football.
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World Comes Full Circle as LSU Star Replaces Adams
The Jets have been tied to several names and positions since speculation began months ago, including prospects at edge rusher, cornerback, safety and offensive line, so it was interesting to get Brugler’s initial take on which direction Douglas will decide to go.
Three of those players were obviously off the board at four, they were:
- Aidan Hutchinson, edge rusher (Michigan), who was drafted by Detroit.
- Kayvon Thibodeaux, edge rusher (Oregon), who was drafted by Houston.
- Evan Neal, offensive tackle (Alabama), who was drafted by Jacksonville.
With the franchise’s first selection, Brugler went a popular route.
4. Derek Stingley Jr., Cornerback (LSU)
How about that? If Douglas were to use the Seattle pick on Stingley, this robbery would truly come full circle as the Jets would replace one former second-team LSU All-American defensive back (Adams) with another first-team LSU All-American defensive back (Stingley).
Considering Gang Green also pocketed Alijah Vera-Tucker in the exchange, I’d call that an upgrade for the ages.
Brugler wrote: “With a defense that ranks last in the NFL and an offensive line that still has weak spots, the Jets need plenty of help. With two picks in the top five, the Jets are in a position to address both areas. After an All-American freshman season and solid sophomore year, Stingley played in only three games in 2021 before foot surgery put him on the shelf. The interviews and medicals are the unknown aspects of his projection right now, but his talent warrants this pick.”
Adding to that, Stingley is the playmaker and ballhawk that the Jets desperately need leading their secondary alongside breakout CB Bryce Hall. He recorded six interceptions and 15 pass breakups as a freshman in 2019 and is considered a consensus five-star recruit that has been compared to New Orleans Saints corner Marshon Lattimore.
Stingley checks in at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, and fits head coach Robert Saleh’s system as a defensive back that excels in press coverage.
This fanbase embraced shutdown corner, Darrelle Revis, as one of its beloved fan-favorites. Stingley wore the same number (24) during his first two seasons at LSU, and if he joins the Green & White, he may become the closest thing we’ve had to Revis Island in a long time.
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Help for Zach Wilson at 5
Next, Brugler elected not to double down on defense, spreading the love across the ball on Zach Wilson’s offensive line.
5. Ikem Ekwonu, Offensive Tackle (NC State)
Douglas has selected an offensive lineman in the first round both of his first two drafts as an NFL general manager — Mekhi Becton year one and the aforementioned ‘AVT’ year two (second first-rounder).
Many expect the former Richmond Spiders offensive tackle to continue that trend as he builds through the trenches and reconstructs this blocking unit with first-round talent. With Neal taken by the Jaguars, Brugler has the Jets GM doing that with NC State tackle Ekwonu.
The analyst explained: “The Jets have addressed the offensive line in the first round in each of Joe Douglas’ first two drafts as general manager, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he keeps the streak going. Similar in ways to a ‘smaller’ version of Mekhi Becton, Ekwonu is a freakishly explosive blocker for his size (6-foot-4, 322 pounds) with the raw power and movement skills to execute outside zone with ease. He can play tackle or guard interchangeably and would give the Jets a long-term answer at right tackle.”
As Brugler noted, the similarities to Becton are evident but ironically, Pro Football Network actually compared him to Vera-Tucker because of his inside/outside versatility. The scouting site referred to Ekwonu as a “good old-fashioned mauler” in the run game that could turn into an “exceptional guard at the next level.”
Whether the Jets use him at OG or OT though, the NC State product clearly fits the Douglas mold. Gang Green could have one of the best rushing attacks in football behind an O-line that includes some combination of Becton, AVT and Ekwonu.
In Case You Were Wondering…
I figured I would also include some landing spots of the most popular Jets draft candidates in 2022.
- Tyler Linderbaum, center (Iowa): New York Giants at seventh overall.
- Kyle Hamilton, safety (Notre Dame): Philadelphia Eagles at eighth overall.
- George Karlaftis, edge rusher (Purdue): Eagles at ninth overall.
- Andrew Booth Jr., cornerback (Clemson): Minnesota Vikings at 12th overall.
- Garrett Wilson, wide receiver (Ohio State): New Orleans Saints at 13th overall.
- David Ojabo, edge rusher (Michigan): Cleveland Browns at 15th overall.
- Jordan Davis, defensive tackle (Georgia): Denver Broncos at 17th overall.
- Kaiir Elam, cornerback (Florida): Los Angeles Chargers at 20th overall.