Jets Analysts Reveal Top Draft Targets & Last-Ditch Free-Agent Signings

Robert Saleh Jets

Getty New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh on the sideline in the middle of an NFL game.

The NFL draft is less than three weeks away! That means the New York Jets — like most teams — are spending the bulk of their time reviewing college tape and meeting with enticing prospects.

In other words, it’s crunch time and everyone is scrambling to finalize a game plan. This Monday’s mailbag column will center around the looming draft, with a couple of hot topics mixed in, and our expert writers Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr and Michael Obermuller are back once again to answer all those burning questions.

But first, a look back at our most recent roundtable discussions.

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Rumors of the Week

GM Joe Douglas Joins Official Jets Podcast From 2022 NFL League Meetings | New York JetsBroadcasting from the 2022 NFL League Meetings, Host Eric Allen is joined by Jets General Manager Joe Douglas. After discussing the NFL's new postseason overtime rule (1:15), Douglas dishes on playing meaningful football in December (2:05) and Year 2 with HC Robert Saleh following a valuable 2021 campaign (3:00). Douglas also breaks down the team's…2022-04-05T16:00:26Z

1. Some believe that the price tag for a premium wide receiver like D.K. Metcalf or A.J. Brown could be two first-round picks (No. 10 overall plus a 2023 first). If true, does that eliminate the Jets from trading for a WR1 before the draft?

Boy Green:

Absolutely without a shadow of a doubt that eliminates me from the conversation. That is — to be polite — a ridiculous price to pay.

All of those players you listed are incredibly talented, but to trade for one of those stars and then turn around and pay them top-of-the-market money is a lot to ask.

If that is truly the price, then the Jets would be better served creating their own path by selecting a receiver in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft.


Yeah, I have to agree with my partner here. Unlike Joe Douglas and many NYJ supporters, I would be willing to sacrifice the No. 10 overall pick for a guarantee at the wide receiver position but I cannot spend next year’s first-rounder as well.

That’s the Jamal Adams deal, which has since gone down as one of the worst trades in Seattle Seahawks history.

More importantly, there’s no way that Douglas is willing to offer this type of return. Putting it bluntly — if that’s the ask, this wide receiver pipedream is over.

2. Sam Darnold finally spoke publicly on his trade from the Jets organization and said he told Douglas that he believed they were making a mistake. Do you think the Jets made a mistake by sending Darnold to Carolina and drafting Wilson in his place?

Boy Green:

I love Darnold to death and I love the cockiness/arrogance/confidence to tell the general manager he is making a big mistake by trading him away. That is reminiscent of Peyton Manning saying that to the Indianapolis Colts ahead of the 1998 draft — if you don’t take me I’ll make you pay for the rest of my career.

However, the Jets made the right call moving on from Darnold. Now whether or not Wilson was the right pick or will be a star is still very much to be determined, but the decision to move on from the former USC product was the right call.

Can you imagine where this team would be at if they kept Darnold and they headed into this offseason with a massive QB need? Yikes. The only potential saving grace in that scenario is a Deshaun Watson trade, but yikes that would’ve been rough.


Finally, some fight out of this kid. If only he had shown more of that when he was the starting quarterback in New York!

I was actually pleased by the comments and unlike my partner, I was never a big Darnold fan. Not only did the Jets make the right call — they hit that eject button at the perfect moment. Carolina was in desperation mode and Douglas got back draft capital that nobody would even consider sending Cleveland for Baker Mayfield right now, except maybe the Panthers yet again.

I hope things work out somewhere for Darnold but this was a home run for the Jets, who also reset their QB contract window for another four years. I’ll go one step further, Wilson is the more talented prospect of the two, and I believe he’ll show that during his sophomore campaign.

3. Looking at the remaining Jets free agents that are still available, which player would you try to re-sign ahead of the 2022 season?

Boy Green:

I wrote about it over the weekend but there is mutual interest between Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and the Jets in reuniting this offseason.

Despite the fact that both starting guard spots are filled by Laken Tomlinson and Alijah Vera-Tucker, the Jets would love ‘LDT’ to be their top reserve. One of the reasons the veteran decided to come to the Jets was an opportunity to play, but he still has really great feelings towards the franchise so he is supposedly open to a return — even with the new landscape.

That would make me feel a lot better about the depth on the offensive line heading into the draft.


I definitely feel LDT is the obvious answer here but since Boy Green already nailed that one, I’ll take a look at the others. There aren’t too many options remaining — WR Keelan Cole, TE Tyler Kroft, EDGE Kyle Phillips, TE/ST Daniel Brown.

Phillips and Brown don’t make much sense, being that Douglas has plenty of depth at those positions and might add more in the draft. At tight end, a Kroft return would only occur if the Jets whiff on the position in April, but I don’t think they will. A rookie selection ends any chance of the veteran re-signing.

That leaves Cole, who would be my second choice behind Duvernay-Tardif. The Jets’ wide receiver room is barren and while they could easily double-dip in the draft, Cole offers an affordable option that knows the playbook if they don’t.

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The Latest on the Draft

Head Coach Robert Saleh Joins Official Jets Podcast From 2022 NFL League Meetings | New York JetsBroadcasting from the 2022 NFL League Meetings, Host Eric Allen is joined by Jets Head Coach Robert Saleh. The guys talk about the steps the team has made since the start of free agency (1:25) and how the Jets will ultimately become a destination for players (4:05). Coach Saleh breaks down an improved tight end…2022-04-01T14:46:56Z

4. Is there any scenario where you would select Derek Stingley Jr. in round one, knowing his injury history? If yes, how high would you be willing to select him?

Boy Green:

Yes, I would. He looked great at his Pro Day and the Jets don’t have a true No. 1 cornerback. As long as the medical staff approves his long-term health based on his array of injuries from his college career, I’m good with the decision.

The earliest I would take him is at the No. 10 overall spot, but if I had my way, I’d trade up from No. 35 overall if he slid into the late-teens or early 20s. I’ve been talking to a lot of big-name people through my draft channel over the last several months and the overwhelming take is Stingley is a superstar talent that is worth gambling on.


I don’t doubt that Stingley could be great, but my opinion here is the same one that I have about Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner — the Jets don’t need a cornerback early in the draft.

Watching D.J. Reed Jr.’s film in Seattle and knowing the amount of money the front office gave him, I believe the free-agent acquisition is our number one corner in this pass-rush-driven system. I also love Bryce Hall.

I don’t understand how a portion of this fanbase has turned on him so quickly this offseason when last year, he felt like one of the best defensive players week-in and week-out. When the Jets got burned through the air in 2021, the majority of the time it was C.J. Mosley, Quincy Williams, Brandin Echols, Isaiah Dunn, or whichever safety they were trotting out there on any given week.

Hall was solid, and he still is. With better support around him, he’s a starting CB in this league.

5. Out of all the top-30 prospect visits so far, give me the player that you were most excited to hear was coming to Florham Park ahead of the draft.

Boy Green:

The obvious answer is Kayvon Thibodeaux, whose official visit was just announced on April 11. I’ve been drooling about him since last summer and he is my dream pick at No. 4 overall.

Although I’ll provide a different answer with a guy a little deeper on the list. Give me Isaiah Likely, the tight end out of Coastal Carolina.

Most probably assumed after investing over $45 million at the tight end position in free agency that the Jets were done at the position, but not so fast my friends! I fully anticipate they will be grabbing a young option on day three of the 2022 NFL draft to develop behind C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin.

Likely is this big receiving threat that can be a mismatch nightmare at the next level. A super intriguing piece of clay that has other-worldly potential.


I can’t lie, there’s one potential target that caught my eye a few months ago and I was very excited to see him visit the facility. That’s edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II.

If you haven’t heard the Florida State product’s story, I advise giving it a read. This man has battled to get where he is and I believe his personality and drive are the perfect match for Robert Saleh and the Jets — not to mention his skillset.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d be happy with Thibodeaux at No. 4 as well, but something tells me that this kid is special. If it were me, I’d find a way to draft Johnson in 2022.

Follow @obermuller_nyj and @BoyGreen25 on Twitter for all the latest New York Jets breaking news, rumors, fresh takes and more!


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