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Why the Jets Will Have the First Overall Pick Of the 2022 NFL Draft

The Jets have been busy this offseason. With a new coaching staff, New York has addressed a plethora of needs across the roster, bringing in plenty of talent in the NFL draft and free agency. 

That in mind, all signs point toward Gang Green taking steps in the right direction this coming season, right? After all, it's not impossible to find seven wins on the Jets' 2021 schedule. 

And yet, ESPN predicted this week that the Jets will be the league's worst team this year, picking first in the 2022 NFL draft.

Why? Here's Aaron Schatz of the Football Outsiders with his explanation:

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The Jets have our worst overall projection, in particular our worst offensive projection. Obviously, Zach Wilson brings hope to Jets fans that the offense will finally turn things around. However, top-drafted rookie quarterbacks often take time to develop or -- as in the case of Sam Darnold, Wilson's predecessor -- they don't develop at all. Since 2013, quarterbacks taken in the top half of the first round who played as rookies found their teams averaging 25th in offensive DVOA.

But the quarterback is just part of the projection for the Jets. We also look at their performance over the past three years and that has been dismal, ranking in the bottom four for three straight years. It's not just the passing game, as the Jets' running game also ranked in the bottom six for three straight years. The Jets have added some offensive talent, in particular wide receiver Corey Davis, but the boost in our projection system from those new players is not enough to counterbalance the value of a rookie quarterback and the Jets' poor recent performance overall.

The Jets' defense projects better than the offense but our system sees less upside than other defenses with similar recent track records. Yes, Robert Saleh is bringing a strong scheme with him that performed well in San Francisco. But defenses in new schemes, all else being equal, tend to play a little bit worse than average. And there are still a lot of questions about the secondary, in particular where the starting cornerbacks are both young, lower-round picks (Bryce Hall and Bless Austin).

Best-case scenario: Wilson plays well right out of the gate, finally turning around the long-struggling offense. Saleh's defensive scheme clicks immediately and covers up for the questions in the secondary. Free-agent addition Carl Lawson plays up to his huge contract as one of the league's top edge rushers. The best-case scenario also would require a lot of injuries in Buffalo; otherwise, this dream still ends with the Jets getting just a wild card.

That's a lot to read, so we'll sum it up in a few sentences (you know, in case you skipped ahead to here).

Bottom line, even with the improvements this team has made on the offensive side of the ball, it's still impossible to ignore the holes that remain. Mix in an unproven rookie quarterback—upside aside—and this offense could struggle consistently in 2021.

If all goes well, Wilson quickly adjusts to the next level and Robert Saleh's defense shines. Otherwise, it might be more of the same for this team for the second season in a row.

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