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When the Jets selected Ahmad Gardner with the No. 4 pick and Garrett Wilson with the No. 10 pick in the 2022 NFL draft, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that New York would wait until the second day of the draft to target a pass rusher.
That changed when Florida State EDGE Jermaine Johnson started tumbling down the board.
With Johnson dropping to the back end of the first round, Joe Douglas swung a deal with the Titans to acquire the 26th pick and bring the star pass rusher to the Big Apple. The move not only landed the Jets a player who would have been an acceptable pick for the team in the top 10, but also one who fills a major void on defense.
Let’s take a closer look at the Johnson selection with six takeaways.
Joe Douglas wins the first round
It was no secret that the Jets had an affinity for Johnson throughout the pre-draft process. It seemed like he would fall out of New York’s grasp when it went in a different direction with its pair of top 10 picks, but Douglas took advantage of Johnson unexpectedly falling. Douglas got aggressive and did what he had to do to make a deal happen. It can be argued the Jets won the first round of the draft after Douglas’ trade up to pick Johnson.
Johnson instantly fills a need
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The Jets needed to add a pass rusher in this year’s draft — even with Carl Lawson returning from a torn Achilles and John Franklin-Myers entrenched as a starter. New York failed to consistently pressure opposing quarterbacks in 2021 and its defense suffered as a result. Johnson has a skill set that will allow him to play a big part in changing that. He shouldn’t have much of an issue winning his fair share of battles off the edge as a rookie.
Insurance for Carl Lawson
AP Photo/Gary McCullough
Coming back from a torn Achilles is never easy, especially for a player as big as Lawson. He might not be able to take on a full snap count right off the bat and may need to be spelled more often than usual as he works his way back to 100%. Johnson carries plenty of value on his own, but he becomes even more important to the Jets in 2022 as a player who can take some of Lawson’s snaps when he needs a breather — and perform at a high level while doing so.
John Franklin-Myers to the inside?
AP Photo/Eric Smith
Johnson likely isn’t going to start for the Jets as a rookie; odds are he’ll see plenty of snaps as part of a rotation. His arrival at One Jets Drive could mean more snaps for Franklin-Myers on the inside as Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich try to maximize their pass rush, though. Franklin-Myers has plenty of experience lining up on the inside and could see time there on passing downs while Johnson assumes his spot on the edge. That option makes New York’s defensive line far more dangerous when it needs to get to the quarterback in obvious passing situations.
Worth parting ways with multiple picks
Hakim Wright Sr./AP
Douglas values draft capital as much as any general manager in the NFL. His willingness to part ways with picks 35, 69 and 163 shows how high the Jets were on Johnson and how much of a necessity they felt he was. New York picked up a third-round selection from the Titans in its trade to move back into the first round, making the deal all the more worth it.
Looking at Day 2 through a new lense
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets now just have a pair of Day 2 picks after the Johnson trade. New York will still pick early in the second round at No. 38 and then again in the third round at No. 101. It’s entirely possible Douglas targets a safety with the 38th pick before focusing on offensive line or linebacker depth with the 101st pick.