Las Vegas will become the center of the football universe this week, as the 2022 NFL Draft kicks off with Thursday’s first round.
There’s plenty of intrigue surrounding the top of the draft, and both New York teams will be a huge part of the action. The Jets own the fourth and 10th overall picks, while the Giants hold the fifth and seventh overall picks.
With such prime first-round real estate, both teams are hoping to capitalize and land two potential franchise-altering pieces.
But when commissioner Roger Goodell gets up to the podium for each of those four picks, whose name will be written down on the draft card? Which four players will start their NFL careers under the bright lights of the Big Apple?
We asked some experts to play GM, giving their picks for the Jets and Giants’ first-round selections in our SNY Super Mock Draft (SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano’s picks are still to come this week).
Ladies and gentlemen, the picks are in…
Jets No. 4 Pick
Bart Scott – DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon)
Thibodeaux would be my first choice; Sauce Gardner second. [Thibodeaux] has the highest ceiling; he’s the most natural pass-rusher. He played at a big-time level, so we know more about him than anybody else. He’s not a one-hit wonder.
Jeané Coakley – DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon)
With the fourth pick, the Jets take Kayvon Thibodeaux out of Oregon. The Jets have been in need of an edge rusher for decades. He has size at 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, is explosive and athletic. Matched with a healthy Carl Lawson, Robert Saleh‘s defense would improve drastically.
Willie Colon – CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner (Cincinnati)
I think he’s probably the most pro-ready, as far as plug and play. I think with his range and his size and his ability to attack on the ball, I think he shows great range, especially on the back end, and I like what he did during his junior campaign.
I think he’d be a great complement to that defense. … When you draft somebody in the first round, you draft him to be an impact player and somebody who can change the franchise, and I think he has that type of ability.
Leger Douzable – DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon)
I know a lot of Jets fans are leaning towards Kayvon Thibodeaux being the guy, and I wouldn’t be upset if that was the pick, but in the fourth spot the Jets are kind of in a predicament, because the Top 3 picks kind of solidify and show where the rest of the draft is going to go.
If I was a betting man and the Jets are on the clock at number four, I believe it’s either going to be Thibodeaux or Ikem Ekwonu. For many talent evaluators, Ekwonu is the No. 1 or No. 2 talent in this draft, so if the Jets have him ranked as the first or second overall player in this draft, then you have to take him. That makes it a sticky situation at the offensive tackle position with Mekhi Becton and George Fant coming back, but you have to take the best player available.
But, when all is said and done, I think the pick is most likely going to be Thibodeaux.
John Jastremski – DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon)
I know some people are going to link them to offensive linemen, but they have enough, to me, on the offensive line. Their defense last year was deplorable. You have a chance to get an impact player on defense, so I expect it to be a defensive player, and I think if Thibodeaux is there, he’s got to be the pick.
They’ve been searching for an elite pass-rusher for a long, long time. He’s the goods, he’s got an attitude, he’s got a swagger about him, and I think he’s the perfect pick for the Jets. I wouldn’t be shocked if they go corner, but Thibodeaux would be my pick.
Joe Caporoso – DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon)
The Jets don’t need to overthink this. Thibodeaux has been overanalyzed from being in the spotlight for so long but is a top three player in this class and fills a desperate, long standing need for the Jets. He should pair with a returning-from-injury Carl Lawson to properly drive on the necessary pressure to execute Robert Saleh‘s defense.
Kim Jones – CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner (Cincinnati)
Gives the Jets a needed playmaker in the secondary and presumably a shutdown corner in a league where the receiver position has gone wild. He had three INTs in each of his three college seasons and never allowed a touchdown. He has the size (6-foot-3) and speed (4.41 40-yard dash) to be an instant difference-maker.
Connor Rogers – DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon)
Pass rush help is at the top of the defensive board for the Jets and this draft class is loaded in that area. Thibodeaux is explosive and powerful with double-digit sack potential, making him a no-brainer fit across from Carl Lawson. Robert Saleh‘s defense is built on the front four getting home, something they could not do consistently in 2021. I’ve heard the Jets don’t have the widely rumored character concerns going around about Thibodeaux. The real question is if he makes it past Detroit.
Giants No. 5 Pick
Bart Scott – OT Ikem Ekwonu (N.C. State)
He can be a guard or a tackle. He’s the most complete guy for the Giants because of his versatility.
Leger Douzable – OT Charles Cross (Mississippi State)
If Thibodeaux goes fourth, to me that means Ekwonu is probably going third. The Giants have been tabbed with really liking Charles Cross. Now, Cross has been working out at right tackle and they have Andrew Thomas at left, who is really good young player. To me, Cross is the best pure tackle in this draft class.
John Jastremski – OT Evan Neal (Alabama)
I think it’s an easy call for the Giants. I think it’s any of the tackles, and I’m not greedy and I don’t really have a preference, necessarily. Any time you get a guy out of Bama, they’re going to be polished, because that’s what Bama is able to do: They churn out prospects at basically every position.
Outside of Thibodeaux, the only way the Giants can go is offensive tackle. I think Neal will be the most pro-ready. I won’t complain either way if they end up with Ekwonu.
Joe Ruback (License Plate Guy) – OT Evan Neal (Alabama)
The Giants have got to address the O-line once and for all. They are in a perfect position to grab a top-rated tackle with No. 5: THEY SHOULDN’T OVERTHINK THIS.
They can do whatever they please with the No. 7 pick, whether it’s continuing to pick O-line, take an edge rusher, a corner or trade down and acquire more picks (I like the last one) for the future. The Giants are many players away from competing at the highest level, but after this year’s draft, they should be a competitive team and I have full trust in the direction they’re headed.
With all that said Neal from Alabama is the pick.
Joe Caporoso – OT Evan Neal (Alabama)
A plug-and-play starter at tackle to pair with Andrew Thomas for the foreseeable future. The Giants have to get better in the trenches to get back to being competitive and to make life easier on their quarterback, whether that is Daniel Jones or a 2023 draft pick. Neal is a high floor top five pick who is not all that far behind Ikem Ekwonu as the top player at his position in this class.
Kim Jones – OT Ikem Ekwonu (North Carolina State)
GM Joe Schoen seems committed to fixing the offensive line — I asked him – and knows doing so remains essential for the Giants. That is the only way to properly evaluate Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley and even 2021 non-TD scorers Kenny Golladay and the currently-absent-from-voluntary-workouts Kadarius Toney.
With this pick, the Giants will have invested in both tackle positions and should be set at the position for years to come. Out of NC State, Ekwonu and Andrew Thomas should be – and have to be – highly competent bookends.
Bobby Skinner – OT Ikem Ekwonu (North Carolina State)
Right tackle is the biggest need for the Giants team and they seem primed to be able to meet that need with best player available or at least really close. Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu would be slam-dunk picks at that 5th spot if either are there and should no doubt be the pick if they are. Neal is a polished pass-blocker with all the tools you want while Ekwonu has a little more rawness to his game but would be an instant upgrade with traits that can grow into an elite player. If both are available at No. 5, I’d consider taking a different player and then taking whichever is there at 7 assuming Carolina takes one at No. 6.
Charles Cross is a popular name but I don’t think he is anywhere close to BPA and is not as polished as pundits make him out to be, so I’d stay away from him unless you traded down.
But if I had to give one name, I’d go Ekwonu.
Connor Rogers – OT Evan Neal (Alabama)
The draft board should break well for the Giants as three of the top four projected picks are expected to be pass rushers. This leaves skyscraper Evan Neal in play, a powerful drive blocker and pro-ready pass protector. He has experience on both sides of the line, making this an easy transition if the Giants want to keep Andrew Thomas at left tackle (hint: they do).
Giants No. 7 Pick
Bart Scott – DE Jermaine Johnson (Florida State)
You have him opposite of Azeez Ojulari, oddly enough they played at the same university [Georgia, before Johnson transferred to FSU], so I’m sure they know each other and can hold each other accountable.
Leger Douzable – CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner (Cincinnati)
I think the Giants are praying that Sauce Gardner isn’t taken, even though Carolina isn’t really corner-needy. Even though they need edge rush, I just think with them most likely trading their best corner James Bradberry, Wink Martindale loves his corners and likes to blitz and have his corners on islands. I think Gardner is a guy they take at No. 7 if he’s still there.
John Jastremski – CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner (Cincinnati)
I’m a firm believer that you have to draft those premium positions early, that’s why I would never in a million years take a safety at that spot. I think they’re looking at either Sauce Gardner or Derek Stingley, Jr., either of those two is the guy to be their corner hopefully for the next five-to-10 years as a lockdown guy.
Joe Ruback (License Plate Guy) – CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner (Cincinnati)
So many options. The better deal might be at No. 5, but you cannot pass on the guy you need in that spot. I’m all about staying OL, even at No. 7, but the wise choice would be to acquire picks and even a No. 1 for 2023. But if the Giants aren’t getting the value for No. 7 and stay and draft Kayvon Thibodeaux/Travon Walker if there or Sauce Gardner/Kyle Hamilton, those are both heavy needs.
Gardner would be my pick because he fits right into Wink Martindale‘s defense.
Joe Caporoso – CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner (Cincinnati)
A 2.0 version of current starter James Bradberry, who may be on the trade block. Gardner should be a perfect scheme fit for the type of defense the Giants will want to play under their new coaching staff and is less of a risk in the top ten than Derek Stingley, Jr. Gardner has been a popular mock pick for the Jets at fourth overall but it would be surprising to see them target the position so high after paying DJ Reed, and with their crop of young corners they want to keep developing.
Kim Jones – DE Jermaine Johnson (Florida State)
The Giants need an edge rusher (or two). At 6-foot-5, 254 pounds, out of Florida State, Johnson is the pick here as Schoen gives DC Wink Martindale what has to be a significant piece to the defensive puzzle.
Connor Rogers – CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner (Cincinnati)
The hiring of Wink Martindale gives Big Blue a clear identity on defense. They will constantly send pressure and leave their cornerbacks in isolated man coverage, a tall task. Fortunately for the Giants, Sauce Gardner is an incredibly talented cover corner with physicality and ball skills. He’d be a franchise piece for the defense at what they consider a premium position. Don’t be surprised if new GM Joe Schoen takes trade calls in this spot as well.
Bobby Skinner – DE Jermaine Johnson (Florida State)
The seventh pick should truly be best player available whether it’s Kayvon Thibodeaux, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Jermaine Johnson or whatever player they have ranked the highest. I’d slightly prefer Kayvon due to the importance of a pass-rusher with his ceiling, but Gardner would be just as much of a slam dunk pick with his ability and fit with Wink Martindale.
If both are gone at that point, I’d prefer a trade back but understanding it takes two to tango; I’d pick Jermaine Johnson.
Jets No. 10 Pick
Bart Scott – WR Jameson Williams (Alabama)
He’s different from anybody else. He’s the closest thing to an elite, plug-and-play type of guy. If he hadn’t gotten hurt, he’d be the first receiver off, so the Jets can afford (to take him) because they have hit on Elijah Moore. Corey Davis has to step up, but they have tight ends, so they can wait for Williams to get healthy and take the best player in this spot.
Jeané Coakley – WR Garrett Wilson (Ohio State)
At No. 10, the Jets still in need for their No. 1 receiver take Garrett Wilson out of Ohio State. He’s fast, has great hands and is a great route runner. Wilson will stretch the field and will only help Zach Wilson‘s growth.
Willie Colon – C Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa)
I’m struggling between an offensive lineman and a receiver, so I think any time you’re able to get a big-time receiver you do it, but I feel like if you’re able to get a lineman that can complement and be in your organization for the next five or six or eight years and you feel like you have that guy, you go for it. So I’m gonna go with an offensive lineman.
Leger Douzable – WR Jameson Williams (Alabama)
I think the Jets will probably trade back if they address the edge position with the fourth pick, because a lot of talent evaluators, me included, don’t have a receiver as a Top 10 prospect in this draft class.
No receiver is going to move the needle as far as coming in from Day 1 and being the No. 1 receiver. The only wide receiver that would have been in my Top 10 is Jameson Williams, if not for the injury. So I would not be upset if the Jets took him at the No. 10 spot. That’s what they’re missing on offense, a guy who can take the top off the defense and put the fear of God in safeties.
If I had to be a betting man, I’d say they’re trading out of that spot, but if I had to pick somebody, it’d be Williams.
John Jastremski – WR Drake London (USC)
Assuming they’re not trading the pick for a wide receiver — Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, or whoever — we’ll go receiver with that pick, and I think the guy to target is London out of Southern California.
I know Jameson Williams is a stud and he’s super fast, Garrett Wilson out of Ohio State, Chris Olave, they’re talented wide receivers but the Jets have their speedster in Elijah Moore. They need a guy who can go up and get it. London profiles as a guy to me who can go up and get it.
I think it complements and rounds out their offense really nicely.
Joe Caporoso – WR Jameson Williams (Alabama)
The Jets badly want speed and a deep threat to pair with Zach Wilson‘s cannon arm. They narrowly missed on Tyreek Hill and won’t shy away from Williams if he’s on the board at No. 10, despite his injury recovery timeline. Williams’ speed will pair nicely with the work Elijah Moore and Corey Davis will do in the intermediate passing game, rounding out an explosive 11-personnel group.
Kim Jones – WR Drake London (USC)
At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds out of USC, London provides Zach Wilson with a big target who creates matchup issues. His experience as an outside receiver and slot target shows his versatility as the Jets continue to build around Wilson.
Connor Rogers – WR Drake London (USC)
As all eyes are on the Deebo Samuel situation, the Jets still have a key need at wide receiver. They want to litter the field with playmakers that possess different skill sets, leaving Drake London as a guy to circle. He’s built like a small forward and dominates contested catch situations, giving Zach Wilson a dynamic go-to target when things break down.