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As Jets general manager Joe Douglas gets ready for his third draft in charge of the Jets, his first two drafts have gone different ways.
The 2021 rookie class showed a lot of promise this year and it looks like Douglas has found some foundational pieces for the Jets. Quarterback Zach Wilson’s progress will ultimately define how that draft is viewed, but the early returns have been positive.
The 2020 draft class has not fared as well. The Jets got very little production from Douglas’ first draft class, which consisted of nine players. The Jets are preaching patience, but there are reasons to worry about this class.
“I would say about the entire draft class, we’re in Year 2 of their pro careers and I would say at this checkpoint in their race, probably not where it needs to be as a group,” Douglas said. “But, at this point, there is no one giving up on these players. Look, every player develops differently, at different rates. I’m sure if you ask some of these guys, they would say they’re disappointed in their season, but at the end of the day, no one is giving up on the players. Coach [Robert Salleh] certainly is not giving up on those guys. We fully expect them to come back in the offseason ready to roll and ready to improve.”
Here is a closer look at how each pick performed in 2021 and what their 2022 outlook is:
Round 1: OT Mekhi Becton (No. 11 overall)
Becton played just 48 snaps in the season opener against the Panthers before suffering a dislocated right knee cap. The injury required surgery and the Jets said they expected Becton back in four to six weeks. He did not play another down. There were issues with Becton in training camp where the coaches were unhappy with him. Becton has battled weight issues as a pro and the Jets clearly hope he matures and learns to be a pro during this offseason. Becton showed All-Pro potential as a rookie, but he must learn to control his weight and stay on the field if he is ever going to realize that potential.
“I think for him attacking this offseason and coming back in the best possible shape he can be in,” Douglas said. “I expect big things from him next year. We all want Mekhi back.”
Round 2: WR Denzel Mims (59)
Mims would like to forget his second season with the Jets. A bout of food poisoning in the spring cost him time in OTAs and the coaches and Wilson never seemed to trust him. Mims played in 11 games and caught just eight passes for 133 yards. He had no catches in the final four games. He also committed plenty of mental mistakes from penalties to running out of the back of the end zone on a potential touchdown. Mims has yet to score in his NFL career. This one feels like it is heading for a divorce. The Jets likely will shop Mims around the NFL draft, but it’s hard to see them getting much of a return for him.
Round 3: S Ashtyn Davis (68)
Davis missed the first three games of the season as he recovered from a 2020 foot injury. He ended up playing in 13 games, starting 10. Davis had two interceptions and three passes defensed. Davis showed poor instincts and tackling ability. It’s hard to see the Jets counting on him to start in 2022. This was one of the picks they got from the Giants in the Leonard Williams trade.
Round 3: DE Jabari Zuniga (79)
Zuniga spent most of the season on the practice squad. He played in three games and did get his first career sack. This one looks like a big miss.
Round 4: RB La’Mical Perine (120)
Perine appears to be a victim of the coaching change. He was a better fit in Adam Gase’s offense but never found a role in Mike LaFleur’s. He played just four games and had only eight carries. It was telling that even when the Jets had injuries at the position, the coaching staff turned to others.
Round 4: QB James Morgan (125)
This was a wasted pick. Morgan was cut in training camp and made a brief return when the team had COVID issues at quarterback, but he has yet to play a snap in the NFL.
Round 4: OL Cameron Clark (129)
Clark suffered a season-ending neck injury in training camp that could end up being career-ending.
Round 5: CB Bryce Hall (158)
The best pick in this class, Hall started 17 games and was one of the Jets’ most consistent players. He proved he can be an NFL starting cornerback. A steal for Douglas in the fifth round.
Round 6: P Braden Mann (191)
Mann has been inconsistent. A left knee injury cost him seven games this season. He finished the year with an average of 45.7 yards on his punts.