NY Jets nearly drafted Jermaine Johnson with the 10th pick

NY Jets, Jermaine Johnson
NY Jets, Jermaine Johnson / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NY Jets made one of the best value picks in the entire 2022 NFL Draft when they traded back into the first round to select Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson with the 26th overall pick.

Johnson was widely seen as a potential top-10 pick in the draft and he was a popular target for the Jets with the 10th pick in pre-draft mock drafts. Some even believed he could be an option at No. 4 overall. His fall was surprising, but the Jets weren't complaining.

If anything, they were overjoyed.

Those pre-draft mocks that projected the Jets to take Johnson at 10 may have been on to something as head coach Robert Saleh recently indicated that the team nearly took the ACC Defensive Player of the Year much earlier in the draft.

The NY Jets fell in love with Jermaine Johnson in the pre-draft process

Saleh spoke to SNY's Jeane Coakley following the conclusion of the 2022 NFL Draft where he implied that, if the Atlanta Falcons had taken Garrett Wilson with the eighth pick instead of Drake London, Johnson would have been "their guy."

Wilson was the top wide receiver on the Jets' board, and if he was gone, the team would have taken Johnson over London at that spot, at least according to Saleh.

Saleh also said that general manager Joe Douglas had been trying to trade back into the first round since the 15th pick in the draft to land Johnson. They ended up orchestrating a trade for the 26th pick where they landed a top-eight player on their board.

The situation with Johnson is reminiscent of the one with Elijah Moore from last year. The Jets were considering taking Moore in the first round before trading up to select Alijah Vera-Tucker.

When Moore fell to them in the first round, the Jets celebrated landing the third top-16 on their draft board. Somehow, they one-upped themselves this year landing three top-eight players on their board.

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The Jets expect Johnson to play a key role as a rookie with the hope that he can develop into a long-term franchise cornerstone. The fact that they were able to land him 16 picks later than they had planned just makes the team's draft haul that much sweeter.