Jets rookie class setting the stage for prolonged playoff success in 2022

Sauce Gardner Jets named to PFWA All-Rookie team
Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner runs back an interception against Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills in Week 9.
AP Photo/John Minchillo

The New York Jets have had a long history of draft picks not panning out. Even recent draft selections like Zach Wilson and Mekhi Becton haven’t been as dominant as people hoped they would be. 

All it takes though is one class to set the stage for prolonged playoff success and a chance at a championship. 

For the Jets, that class is their most recent mix of rookies. With three first-round picks this past draft season and seven overall, almost every single rookie has played a key role in the team’s surprising turnaround this season. New York sits just a couple more wins away from their first winning season in over six seasons. 

“Anytime you draft a rookie, selfishly as an organization you always think you made the right pick, but realistically you never really expect them to hit the ground running because there’s a big part you have to go through.” Robert Saleh said earlier in the week. “You could tell they weren’t scared to be in this league and that the game is not too big for them. That’s why you’re seeing the success that they have had.’

New York’s three first-round picks have all made their mark early on the season. Fourth overall selection Sauce Garnder has transformed the Jets’ secondary while Garrett Wilson’s heroics have been a sight for sore eyes in an offense recently devoid of playmakers. 

It’s with Jermaine Johnson though that the true growth of the rookie class is shown. The 26th overall pick has just two and a half sacks for a defensive line that is loaded with waves of talent. Yet the “great job” that Saleh talks about from his top pass rusher is only the start of what could be an excellent career for the Florida St. product. 

“We’ve all brought in and we all know what we can do. So we’re just looking to go 1-0 and good things are going to come from that.” Johnson told AMNY this week. 

Johnson recorded a sack in the team’s 20-17 upset win over the Buffalo Bills and harassed Josh Allen into two key turnovers that swung the game in the Jets’ favor. For that to continue a second time, with this game in the confines of Buffalo, it required even more production from the defensive line. 

“It’s harder to beat a good team twice. We’re going into this game real focused and locked in like we are every week and looking at the last game and see where we can be better at.” Johnson added. “Obviously the objective is to win this next game.”

The Jets are in the midst of their toughest two-game stretch of the season with the loss to 10-2 Minnesota followed by another room game with first-place Buffalo. With a playoff berth potentially in reach, New York needs all hands on deck to get there. 

It helps when their rookie class has been one of the best in recent memory. 

For more New York Jets news, turn to AMNY.com


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