The biggest mistake the NY Jets can make in the 2022 NFL Draft

NY Jets, Ikem Ekwonu
NY Jets, Ikem Ekwonu / Don Juan Moore/GettyImages

The NY Jets have more draft capital than almost any team in recent NFL history. And with increased draft capital comes increased draft flexibility.

With four top-40 picks and nine total selections, the Jets will have their fair share of options as it pertains to how they should attack the draft. The possibilities are seemingly endless.

On top of that, with so many needs on the roster to address, there aren't too many wrong turns the Jets can take. That being said, there is one critical mistake the Jets must avoid making.

Whatever they do, no matter what, the Jets must land two players in the first round who can contribute immediately in their careers. They must add players who instantly fill holes and can contribute at a high level from the very start.

No projects. No contingency plans. The Jets need instant-impact starters. They need blue-chip talents to build around.

The NY Jets must land instant contributors in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft

There are a few hypothetical selections that come to mind when discussing this prerequisite. A prospect like Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker may have a high ceiling, but the Jets can't afford to take a chance on him.

Walker is reminiscent of prospects like (new Jet) Solomon Thomas and Rashan Gary. Tweener defensive linemen with high athletic ceilings who possess all the physical ability to be an All-Pro at the next level, but also players who are far from refined.

Walker is a phenomenal talent, but the tape doesn't lie. He's just not a very good pass rusher right now. His pass-rush arsenal is underdeveloped and he lacks the ability to counter consistently when his first move doesn't work.

Teams will make projections about Walker's future and hope that he could, over time, become the dominant all-around player many believe he can be. But that's far from a guarantee. And, even more importantly, it likely isn't going to happen in Year 1.

The Jets don't really have the luxury of waiting around for Walker to develop. Not when they've won six games in two years. Not when they have a defense that finished dead-last in sacks last season.

They need instant production. Walker may be great one day, but he doesn't make sense for the Jets.

The same goes for the entire idea behind drafting an offensive tackle early in the first round. Before signing Laken Tomlinson, the notion that the Jets could draft an offensive lineman made some sense.

A player like Ikem Ekwonu could realistically be moved to guard for a year allowing the duo of Mekhi Becton and George Fant to start at tackle. With Fant's contract expiring at the end of the season, the Jets now had a contingency plan for the future as well as an instant upgrade at right guard.

That would no longer be the case, however. There isn't a starting job available on the offensive line right now. If the Jets were to draft an offensive tackle in the top-10, they would either be forced to sit that rookie on the bench, sit one of Fant or Becton on the bench, or trade one of them.

None of those three fit the criteria of "filling a hole with an instant-impact starter." Drafting an offensive tackle, be it Ekwonu, Evan Neal, Charles Cross, etc., would be solving a problem that doesn't currently exist.

Yes, the Jets need to add tackle depth behind Becton and it would be foolish to bank on his health in 2022, but that depth doesn't need to come in the top-10 of the draft. That's just not a very good allocation of assets.

The Jets need players who can be immediate upgrades. If the Jets want to win more than 4-5 games in a stacked AFC this season, they need to land instant starters at positions of need. That's just the reality of the situation.

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Whatever the Jets do, they can't afford to be sitting their top-10 pick on the bench in year one. Anything short of two instant-impact starters would range from disappointment to utter disaster.