How Jets 1st round rookies performed in preseason

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Jets defenders tackle Eagles' Noah Togiai during the team's preseason opener on Friday.
Jets defenders tackle Eagles’ Noah Togiai during the team’s preseason opener on Friday.
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

The Jets won their preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday 24–21, which was good news for fans looking to start the season off right. 

But, of course, preseason is more about helping develop young players than scoring more points than your opponents. 

This year, all eyes were on the Jets rookie class, as they added 3 exciting youngsters to their roster in the 1st round of the 2022 NFL Draft. 

So, here’s how that trio performed in the 1st competitive matchup of their professional careers:

Sauce Gardner

The Jets selected cornerback Sauce Gardner with the 4th overall selection in the draft, and performed as well as fans could have hoped in his debut for Gang Green. 

The 21-year-old defender out of Cincinnati took the field for 14 defensive plays on Friday, and wasn’t targeted at all during the contest, as he held his man in good enough coverage to stop Philadelphia’s offense from throwing the football his way. 

He remained on the left side of the field the entire time — suggesting that the team will use him to lock down a geographic location, rather than trail a single wideout during their defensive outings.

Gardner’s debut was spectacular, and fans hope he will continue to pester his matchups to deny receivers and become the lock-down corner the Jets hoped he would become when they selected him so early. 

Garrett Wilson

Gang Green picked wide receiver Garrett Wilson with the 10th overall pick, which marked a series investment in skill position players to boost quarterback Zach Wilson’s development in his second year. (Wilson was injured in the game with a bone bruise and a meniscus tear, but the team expects him to return for the season’s start). 

The now-injured quarterback targeted the 1st-round wideout with his first pass of the game, but it fell incomplete. 

He then rebounded, as Wilson caught his next 2 targets for a total of 25 yards — coming on a gain of 15 and 10 yards, respectively. He was on the field for 3 Jets possessions. 

Interestingly, Wilson lined up in various positions throughout the contest, including on the outside and in the slot, which suggests that coach Robert Saleh will look to use him as a versatile option in the passing game.

It was a good sign for the rookie, as the team hopes he can be a solid 2nd-fiddle to Elijah Moore, who has emerged as the number-1 option in New York in his 2nd year. 

Jermaine Johnson

The Jets 3rd and final pick in the 1st round was Jermaine Johnson, a powering defensive lineman out of Florida State, who they selected 26th overall. 

He remained on the field for a total of 15 defensive snaps, along with 7 special teams plays. That is in line with coach Saleh’s promise to utilize Johnson in various situations, and get him involved in their ailing special teams game. 

Johnson recorded 1 tackle during the game, and brought solid pressure against Eagles’ signal callers. 

He has the physical gifts to succeed in the NFL, but the team will be looking for him to develop his finesse to go around offensive lineman, rather than relying on only powering through them.

For more coverage of the Jets rookie class, head to amNY.com.