New York Jets Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State – Round 2
The Jets have lacked a difference maker at running back for many years, and finally Joe Douglas did something about it by selecting of Hall. Not giving either Sam Darnold or Zach Wilson a potent rushing attack made the job a lot harder for those young quarterbacks, and adding Hall in the second round could provide a big lift for Wilson in his second season.

There is a lot to like about Hall (5-11, 220) for the NFL. He looks like a future three-down starter who can serve as the bell-cow back of a rushing offense. Hall demonstrates very good running fundamentals, like the patience to let holes develop, the vision to see lanes about to come open, and good body lean to run behind his pads. Hall has a phenomenal spin move that leaves defenders grasping at air, while Hall additionally shows the acceleration to explode out of his cuts. In the open field, Hall has a second gear to break off long runs, and off the snap, Hall has a burst to hit the hole quickly before it closes up.

While Hall tends to run North-South, he has cutting ability and some evasiveness to create for himself. Hall is not a bulldozer who just flattens defenders, but he does run through contact, keeping his legs going and using moves to make it tough for defenders to grab a hold of him. In the NFL, Hall should be a solid back to pick up yards after contact thanks to his good overall balance, strength, knee bend, and ability to run behind his pads.

Hall excels in short-yardage and goal-line situations, turning into a touchdown machine with a real nose for the end zone in the latter case. When Hall gets close to the goal, it looks like he is a heat-seeking missile doing whatever it takes to get the ball across the line.

In the passing game, Hall has good hands for a big back. He can make some difficult catches and is dangerous in space. Hall is a quality route runner as a receiver, and he should be a very good check-down option. Over the past three seasons, Hall totaled 82 receptions, and he is ready to contribute as a receiver in the NFL. Hall can turn a routine pass into a chunk play, and he could be a good contributor to the Jets’ passing attack.

Sooner rather than later, Hall should be a solid starter for the Jets. He could be their starting back as soon as Week 1, and they have some young talent on the offensive line to help open holes for him. Early in his rookie contract, Hall has the talent to become a solid starter for the Jets.

2021: Elijah Moore, WR
2020: Jabari Zuniga, DE
2019: Jachai Polite, DE
2018: Nathan Shepard, DT
2017: Jamal Adams, S
2016: Darron Lee, LB
2015: Devin Smith, WR
2014: Calvin Pryor, S
2013: Dee Milliner, CB

Most Likely To Bust

Jermaine Johnson, DE, Florida State – Round 1
For a lot of the pre-draft process, Johnson was projected to be a top-16 pick. There were some analysts projecting Johnson to go to the Jets with the 10th pick, but days before the 2022 NFL Draft, reported they were targeting Sauce Gardner at No. 4 and Garrett Wilson at No. 10th, and I them projected at those points in my final 2022 NFL Mock Draft.

In the Hot Press shortly before the 2022 NFL Draft, shared there were some make-up concerns around Johnson, with some NFL team sources feeling Johnson’s football character was even worse than Kayvon Thibodeaux’s. The character question hurt Johnson with some teams, per sources. On top of that, some sources felt that Johnson was slightly overrated by the media and his pass rush was not at an elite level for translating to the NFL.

“I wasn’t a fan of the player and didn’t see him as a ‘top rusher’ personally,” said an NFC director of players personnel. “I believe his personality was a concern for a lot of people – not necessarily off-field concern, but he’s not a liked guy in the locker room.”

A different NFC director of player personnel said Johnson was viewed as a high-maintenance guy for the coaches to deal with and keep focused. Multiple sources said they thought Johnson’s skill set could make him a solid rusher, but they not see him as a high first-round talent in that regard.

Given the big expectations in New York, Johnson is fortunate he has some talent around him, like Quinnen Williams and Carl Lawson. Johnson’s personality, however, could be problematic, and of the Jets’ early-round picks, he looks like he has the most bust potential.

2021: Zach Wilson, QB
2020: Ashtyn Davis, S
2019: Chuma Edoga, OT
2018: Chris Herndon, TE
2017: Chad Hanson, WR
2016: Jordan Jenkins, LB
2015: Bryce Petty, QB
2014: Dexter McDougle, CB
2013: Geno Smith, QB

Potential Boom Pick

Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner, CB, Cincinnati – Round 1
New York general manager Joe Douglas added a veteran corner in Seattle’s D.J. Reed in free agency, but the Jets still needed a legit No. 1 corner for Robert Saleh’s defense. With the fourth-overall pick, New York fixed that hole with the selection of Gardner. The big, fast, and athletic cover corner could be a star in Saleh’s defense.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Gardner is a complete player with natural ability in coverage. He is fast, tall, long and athletic, while possessing excellent instincts. Gardner shows the speed and fluidity to be a man-cover corner to run the route and prevent separation. Displaying impressive recoverability, Gardner has a burst to close, and his length helps him to smother any gap. With his size, he can play press man, yet he retains the speed and sufficient fluidity to play off man. Gardner also has enough twitch to play zone coverage, and his instincts help him to jump routes to break up passes.

On top of his coverage ability, Gardner shows excellent ball skills. His hands are superb, helping make him a real threat to pick off passes. His length makes it tough to get passes around him, as he is very adept at smacking away passes while leaping in the air. At his height and with his ability to jump, Gardner is a weapon who can cover big receivers downfield.

While Gardner is not overly physical to draw pass interference penalties, he gets physical when the time calls for that, and you can see it with the forcefulness of his tackling. Pro receivers won’t be able to push Gardner around.

Gardner looks like a No. 1 corner for the next level, and one who Pro Bowl potential early in his NFL career. Before long, he could be one of the top cover corners in the league. Of the Jets’ four picks taken in the top 40, Gardner has the largest potential to boom.

2021: Alijah Vera-Tucker, G
2020: Mekhi Becton, OT
2019: Quinnen Williams, DT
2018: Sam Darnold, QB
2017: Marcus Maye, S
2016: Christian Hackenberg, QB
2015: Leonard Williams, DE
2014: Jace Amaro, TE
2013: Sheldon Richardson, DT

Future Depth Player

Max Mitchell, OT, La.-Lafayette – Round 4
The Jets did not need an offensive tackle thanks to George Fant and Mekhi Becton returning. However, both of them have dealt with injuries and there have been concerns about Becton panning out. While Mitchell may not ever become a starter, he could be a solid swing tackle backup to provide solid play if one of those veterans suffers an injury. Mitchell needs to get stronger, but he has quality athleticism and quickness. He could be a functional depth blocker as a pro.

2021: Michael Carter, RB
2020: La’Mical Perine, RB
2019: Blessaun Austin, CB
2018: Parry Nickerson, CB
2017: Jordan Leggett, TE
2016: Charone Peak, WR
2015: Jarvis Harrison, G
2014: Tajh Boyd, QB
2013: Brian Winters, G

Walt’s 2022 NFL Draft Grades:

4. Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati – B Grade
The Jets could have drafted a number of prospects at No. 4 who would have made sense for them. Ahmad Gardner is arguably the best defensive player who fills a need for the Jets. You hear that Gardner is the safest player in the draft, but so were Robert Gallery, Aaron Curry and Dee Milliner. I’m not saying Gardner will be a bust, or anything, but he’s not a lock to be a great player. Still, the Jets made a solid pick here in a weak class.

10. Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State – A- Grade
A team told me they were convinced Garrett Wilson would go in the top eight. This isn’t incredible value, but it’s certainly very good value. It could be argued that Wilson is the top receiver in this class, and the Jets needed to do everything in their power to make sure Zach Wilson has as much help as possible.

26. Jermaine Johnson, DE, Florida State A+ Grade
What is this, my Backward Mock Draft? How did Jermaine Johnson fall this far? There were some reports out there that Jets were considering Johnson at No. 4 – incorrect, but still – and yet they were able to land him at No. 26, which is insane. Johnson is a top 10-caliber player and fills a huge need. He has character concerns, but there was just way too much value to pass on him after moving up. This is an A+ grade.

36. Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State – A Grade
The Jets are having a terrific draft. They had a need at running back, as Michael Carter can’t be a full-time back. Breece Hall will be a terrific weapon for Zach Wilson, both as a runner and a receiver out of the backfield. The Jets traded up for him, but had to do so because the Texans easily could’ve chosen Hall.

101. Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State – C Grade
The Jets added C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin this offseason, so I’m not sure why they needed to spend a significant draft choice on Jeremy Ruckert. The Ohio State product belongs in this range or a bit later, so I don’t hate this pick, but I would’ve liked to have seen Joe Douglas address one of his many other needs.

111. Max Mitchell, OT, La.-Lafayette – B+ Grade
Max Mitchell is a solid tackle prospect I’ve had in the fourth round of my mock drafts on a consistent basis. With the Jets having issues with Mekhi Becton – he reportedly weighed in at 400 pounds recently – it would make sense for them to obtain some insurance.

117. Micheal Clemons, DE, Texas A&M – B+ Grade
I like this gamble for the Jets, and I’m not surprised Joe Douglas made this pick. Micheal Clemons is a bit of a raw player, but has high upside. He could easily fizzle out, or he could become a solid edge rusher for the Jets. New York needs as many pass rushers as it could get.

2022 NFL Draft Team Grade: A+. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

New York Jets Season Preview

2024 NFL Mock Draft - April 22

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

NFL Picks - Feb. 12