2022 NFL Draft: Grades for Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner and Every Other New York Jets Pick

Following a dismal 4-13 season under first-year head coach Robert Saleh, the New York Jets missed out on the postseason for the 11th consecutive year, finishing in last place in the AFC East with a 4-13 record.

Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick by the Jets in last year’s NFL Draft, struggled in his rookie campaign, completing just 55.6% of his passes for 2,334 yards and nine touchdowns against 11 interceptions.

But last year was last year, and it’s time for New York to press on once again. The franchise spent some cash in the offseason and had the chance to bolster the roster even further in the 2022 NFL Draft. And they certainly did that with their first pick, taking Cincinnati’s Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner at No. 4, and they kept going from there.

2022 NFL Draft picks by New York Jets

  • No. 4 Overall: Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
  • No. 10 Overall: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
  • No. 26 Overall: Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
  • No. 36 Overall: Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
  • No. 101 Overall: Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State
  • No. 111 Overall: Max Mitchell, OT, Louisiana-Lafayette
  • No. 117 Overall: Michael Clemons, DE, Texas A&M

No. 4 Overall: Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

New York Jets first-round draft pick Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner
New York Jets 2022 NFL Draft pick Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner | Mike Calendrillo/Sportscasting

It’s certainly challenging to get a steal with the No. 4 overall pick in the NFL Draft, but the New York Jets may have done just that by acquiring Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner.

Sure, the Jets could have gone with an offensive lineman here, which is a need for Zach Wilson, but when you have the chance at a lockdown corner like this, you take him. Throughout his entire career with the Bearcats, Gardner didn’t allow a touchdown. And he started as a true freshman. He gave up just 131 yards in 14 games in 2021.

That’s some Grade A ‘Sauce’ right there, friends.

Grade: A

No. 10 Overall: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

With elite body control and breakaway speed, Garrett Wilson should be a great vertical option who could assist with Zach Wilson’s development alongside Elijah Moore. Not only can he run clean routes that generate separation, but he can also create extra yardage after the catch, which is typically great news for a young quarterback still learning on the job.

However, wide receiver wasn’t a huge need for the Jets given the presence of Moore, Corey Davis, and Denzel Mims, and the team could’ve been better off going after someone who could help it make defensive strides.

Grade: C+

Updated Grade: A-

The snap judgment here didn’t mesh with just how much the Jets prioritized a playmaker of Wilson’s caliber, and we clearly liked him as a top-end wide receiver prospect.

No. 26 Overall: Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State

The Jets already checked off their biggest need at cornerback, and they ticked another box here with Jermaine Johnson II. Perhaps he was overvalued by the media heading into the draft (so much for being a top-10 lock), but the talent level is still impressive as an edge-rusher who can jet off the line and bend around even the most athletic offensive tackles. He’s raw, inconsistent, and needs to develop more awareness but has enough upside to make this look like a steal down the road.

Grade: B+

No. 36 Overall: Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State

Yet another solid pick for the Jets. Hall has NFL size at 6’1″ and 220 pounds and has a fantastic mix of speed and power.

Grade: A

No. 101 Overall: Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State

Similar to his Buckeye brother, Garrett Wilson, Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert is a decent pick, especially at this stage, but the Jets could have addressed more urgent concerns here.

Grade: C

Day 3 Picks

No. 111 Overall: Max Mitchell, OT, Louisiana-Lafayette

It took a little longer than I expected for the Jets to grab an offensive lineman, but they got a solid one in Max Mitchell, who could end up replacing Mekhi Becton.

Grade: B

No. 117 Overall: Michael Clemons, DE, Texas A&M

Clemons has a high ceiling but is still a bit of a risk as he’s really raw. But the athleticism is certainly there and he could certainly end up being a steal.

Grade: B-

Stats courtesy of Sports Reference

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