The Jets grab two defenders from the Pac-12 in this first-round mock draft.
Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network has Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux falling to New York's lap at No. 4. Then, the Jets address their secondary with a cornerback that's flown a bit under the radar this offseason in pre-draft evaluations.
Check out Jeremiah's analysis and then we'll break it down even further.
4. Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
I’d be very tempted to take Ikem Ekwonu here (I have the N.C. State tackle as my top offensive lineman), but the Jets defense was notoriously awful last year. They will get Carl Lawson back (Achilles), but they still need more pass rush. I could see Thibodeaux sliding, but his blend of length and burst is impressive.
10. Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
McDuffie is an ultra-clean player on tape. He’s quick, fluid, tough, rarely out of position and can play the ball. He’d upgrade the Jets' intriguing mix of talented young players at the position.
This mock is unique in the sense that we haven't seen either of those two players going to the Jets recently. Usually Thibodeaux comes off the board before the fourth overall selection, snagged by the Jaguars, Lions or Texans. Also, the Jets will often take cornerbacks like Derek Stingley Jr., Andrew Booth Jr. or Ahmad Gardner in other mock drafts.
Regardless, head coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas would be thrilled with this type of first-round haul, adding two talented defenders at positions of need for the 2022 season and beyond.
Thibodeaux is the No. 2 prospect in this draft class, per Pro Football Focus. Imagine his pass rushing abilities in a rotation with the likes of Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers, Quinnen Williams, Bryce Huff and more in green and white.
Meanwhile, McDuffie is ranked as the 15th-best prospect in the 2022 draft class, per PFF (the No. 2 corner after Stingley). Over three years (27 total games) at Washington, the corner racked up 94 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions and eight passes defended.
As Jeremiah mentioned, he'll fit nicely in the secondary with the rest of New York's promising defensive back room.
If you're curious, Jeremiah has Evan Neal, Aidan Hutchinson and Kyle Hamilton coming off the board in that order to start the first round. Gardner is the first corner picked in this mock as well, heading to Carolina with the No. 6 pick. Stingley goes to the Vikings at No. 12.
MORE NFL DRAFT:
- Jets Land Top-Ranked Safety, Wide Receiver in Mel Kiper Mock Draft
- NFL Draft Rumors: Jets 'Prefer' to Trade No. 10 Overall Pick
- NFL Mock Draft: Aidan Hutchinson Slips to Jets, New York Trades 10th Overall Pick
Who Should the Jets Select Fourth Overall in the 2022 NFL Draft?
Kyle Hamilton, Safety, Notre Dame
New York could secure their safety of the future by picking Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton. The fourth overall selection might be a little high for a safety, but Hamilton is one of the top-ranked prospects from this draft class, a defensive back that has the versatility to play center field in the secondary or step up to stop the run in the box. The safety had eight interceptions over three years with the Fighting Irish and would be an immediate replacement for Marcus Maye if he departs in free agency.
Derek Stingley Jr., Cornerback, LSU
Derek Stingley Jr. only played in three games in 2021 due to a foot injury, but his potential was on full display earlier in his career at LSU. As a freshman in 2019, the corner had six interceptions in 15 games. The injury concerns are certainly going to be factored in with a player like Stingley and not every first-round corner will be the next Darrelle Revis, but it’s hard to ignore the deficiencies in New York’s secondary. Stingley with Bryce Hall, Brandin Echols, Michael Carter II and more has the makings of a strong defensive back room heading into the 2022 season.
Evan Neal, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
There’s a good chance Evan Neal comes off the board before New York is on the clock at No. 4, but with Mekhi Becton’s future uncertain, this left tackle deserves a mention. General manager Joe Douglas has made it clear how much he loves to draft offensive linemen, building a strong unit up front to protect his rookie quarterback. Neal is viewed by many as the top-rated lineman in this class, a behemoth that has plenty of experience facing talented pass rushers from his time with the Crimson Tide.
Aidan Hutchinson, Defensive End, Michigan
Speaking of prospects that likely won’t be available fourth overall, Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson may very well be the best player in this draft class. Hutchinson racked up 14 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss in 2021, finishing his four years at Michigan with 17.5 sacks and 27.5 tackles for loss. There’s always a chance a player like Hutchinson could slip down a few selections (if some quarterbacks come off the board early or other teams draft based on their internal needs). Head coach Robert Saleh is surely crossing his fingers that a defensive lineman of Hutchinson’s caliber will be available.
Kayvon Thibodeaux, Defensive End, Oregon
Alright, one more player that’s expected to be selected within the top three selections of the NFL draft. Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux also produced some monster numbers in college, sacking the quarterback 19 times and recording 35.5 tackles for loss over three seasons with the Ducks. Again, odds are Thibodeaux, Hutchinson and Neal will come off the board before the Jets have a chance to pick at No. 4, but one quarterback or one surprise selection would give New York a shot to draft one of those top-ranked prospects. Saleh and Douglas would certainly pounce at an opportunity to add a high-upside pass rusher to their defensive front that already includes Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers and Quinnen Williams.
George Karlaftis, Defensive End, Purdue
Even if Hutchinson and Thibodeaux are unavailable fourth overall, there’s another edge rusher that the Jets could select. George Karlaftis had 29 tackles for loss and 14 sacks over 26 career games at Purdue, wreaking havoc up front for the Boilermakers. If New York is set on bolstering their pass rush early in the first round, Karlaftis would be a tremendous addition. Place a stud like Karlaftis in Saleh’s scheme and he’s bound to recognize his potential at the next level.
Ikem Ekwonu, Offensive Tackle, NC State
While some view Neal as the best tackle in this class, others are picking NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu as their LT1 in 2022. The offensive lineman is dominant in the run game, another option to either replace Becton on the left side or provide more protection for Zach Wilson at another spot up front. Sure, Ekwonu could be an option for the Jets 10th overall, but he could also be the first offensive lineman off the board if teams fall in love with his power, technique and upside.