All signs point to the NY Jets drafting an edge rusher in the first round

NY Jets, Jermaine Johnson Ii
NY Jets, Jermaine Johnson Ii / Don Juan Moore/GettyImages

NY Jets general manager Joe Douglas is notorious for being tight-lipped and keeping things as close to his chest as possible, but this offseason, that strategy has seemingly changed a little.

Call it aggressiveness or call it desperation, the Jets haven't been shy about letting the NFL world know their biggest needs. They've made it abundantly clear both with their actions and words.

Of course, maybe the worst-kept secret in the entire NFL is that the Jets are desperate to add a star wide receiver. They've closely monitored the situations regarding Calvin Ridley, Amari Cooper, and Tyreek Hill, but have fallen short to this point.

That's not the only major position of need they've tipped their hand with, though. It's also become very obvious that the Jets plan to draft an edge rusher, and that player will very likely be selected with one of their two first-round picks.

Expect the NY Jets to target a pass rusher in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft

The Jets' actions over the last few weeks lend credence to this theory. Douglas was aggressive in free agency addressing a number of needs on both sides of the ball. In particular, the defense was an obvious focus.

But while the addition of players like D.J. Reed and Jordan Whitehead means the Jets don't have to address either cornerback or safety early, Jacob Martin doesn't have the same impact at edge rusher.

The Jets didn't add Martin to be an every-down starter — he's little more than young, high-upside depth. However, the Jets were interested in adding a star pass rusher with the team reportedly one of the finalists for Chandler Jones.

The Jets' pursuit of Jones combined with the fact that they didn't leave free agency with any true upgrade at the position certainly suggests that they plan to add an edge rusher early in the draft.

But it goes beyond that. Everything Douglas has said suggests that's the plan as well.

Douglas met with the media on Tuesday to discuss the state of the Jets' roster and their plans for the draft. When asked about the team's options at pick No. 4, Douglas gave a very interesting response.

"It all starts up front. This game is about protecting your quarterback and getting him weapons. Then affecting the other team's quarterback and the best way is the pass rush. In my eyes, and coach believes it, too. If you want to take a $30 million receiver off the field, you hit the quarterback, and you hit him often. That's always going to be our belief, and coach and I see it the same way."

Joe Douglas

It's hard to get any more obvious than that.

On top of that, Douglas was asked about the future of Mekhi Becton, to which he responded that the Jets expect him to be one of their two starting offensive tackles in 2022.

He left it a little open-ended stating that the Jets were "operating like Mekhi is going to be one of our two tackles," but arguing semantics here is probably reading too much into it.

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The Jets are going to draft an edge rusher, and they're going to do so in the first round. If not, then the last few weeks have been a smokescreen for the ages.