3 defensive needs the NY Jets need to address in the 2022 NFL Draft

NY Jets, C.J. Mosley
NY Jets, C.J. Mosley / Kevin R. Wexler-NorthJersey.com / USA
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NY Jets
NY Jets, Quincy Williams / Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

3. The NY Jets need a linebacker

Above all, the Jets are in desperate need of a new linebacker (and probably two). Marquee signing C.J. Mosley finally suited up for a full season for Gang Green this year and proved to be a disappointment.

Mosley posted a career-low 42.0 Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade and performed poorly in coverage, allowing over 85% completions and 500 yards in coverage per Pro Football Reference.

Despite racking up a career-high 168 tackles, Mosley did not have the dominant impact that was expected of him when he was signed by former GM Mike Maccagnan.

In fairness, though, Mosley is being forced to play as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense, while his experience with Alabama and Baltimore was solely as a 3-4 inside linebacker.

Along with Mosley at the position is Quincy Williams, who did make a few plays for the Jets but was just too unreliable to be given a starting spot.

While he recorded a couple of forced fumbles, sacks, and pass deflections, Williams struggled in coverage and with missed tackles. His PFF grade this year was just 44.2.

Other than Mosley and Williams, the rest of the linebacker position is full of inexperienced late-rounders. Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen were both Day 3 safeties last year that were drafted to play linebacker, and they combined for fewer than 200 snaps this year.

With few options left in free agency, the Jets must look to address this need through the draft. Fortunately, there are quite a few interesting options at the position that could potentially start immediately.

First up is Nakobe Dean who led Georgia’s impenetrable 2021 defense. Undersized yet ferocious, Dean is a very well-rounded backer with strong tackling and blitzing ability. Dean was also known to be a leader and, for all intents and purposes, coach of the 'Dawgs defense this past season.

Dean would best be a great value in the mid-late first round of the draft following a trade down and would be a steal at the beginning of the second round, which he could fall to if his sub-six-foot stature scares away teams.

Next is Devin Lloyd, who dominated the Pac-12 with Utah this season as a senior. He racked up a whopping 111 tackles, 22 tackle for loss, seven sacks, and four interceptions, all while excelling in coverage.

Lloyd also comes with great size, standing at a Fred Warner-like 6-foot-3, 237 pounds. Warner quarterbacked Saleh’s defense in San Francisco and Lloyd would hopefully do the same here.

Lloyd also showcased good athleticism at the Combine, running a 4.66 40-yard dash and putting up 25 reps at the bench. Like Dean, the Jets should draft Lloyd after a potential trade down within the first round or at the top of the second round, as neither presents excellent value at pick 10.

Even after the first round, there are still good options available at linebacker, namely Alabama’s Christian Harris and Wyoming’s Chad Muma. Harris put up great numbers at Alabama and ran a blazing 4.44 40-yard dash but played his best football as a freshman.

Muma racked up impressive stats but did so in the lackluster Mountain West Conference, putting into question how talented he really is. Still, either player would be great value in Round 3 and could transition into a starting role by the end of this season.

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Overall, the Jets still have quite a few needs on defense, but with a ton of draft capital, Douglas could easily put the defense in a position to succeed come September.