Will 2022 be the year when New York NFL football finally has something to offer its metro area on Sundays? After double-digit season wins by the Jets in 2015 and yacht club Giants in 2016, neither franchise has since posted a .500 record. At first glance, it’s naïve for tri-state residents to wake up on a Sunday and even have a slight confidence to end the afternoon with a win. The best tally that either team has had after their recent winning seasons is the Jets’ 7-9 performance in 2019.
These are two franchises with all the eyeballs and no luck, but maybe this week’s NFL Draft can change their fortunes. The Giants and Jets both have two picks not only in the first round, but within the first 10 picks of the draft. Things don’t get much better for two teams desperate for talent. Both will get two opportunities to land talented players on rookie deals for the next four seasons. Too bad the draft won’t be held in Radio City like last year! Would love to see the locals lose their shit on live tv.
However, this draft class at the top isn’t littered with players who will make fall weekends viral highlights. The top ranked prospects are defensive players and offensive linemen. There are also a handful of talented wide receivers and questionable quarterbacks, and there’s no consensus on which of them should be drafted first.
That keeps the Giants and Jets in, as Chris “Mad Dog” Russo might say: in a tough spot, mikey. The Jets drafted their newest quarterback of the future, Zach Wilson, last season and almost won replaced by a veteran with no launch experience. And the Giants are stuck under center Daniel Jones with at least another year. None of the franchises should be looking for a game changing quarterback with any of their top 10 picks. They’re certainly looking to improve quickly, especially the Giants in the struggling NFC East, but both need singles in a draft full of strikeout or homer prospects.
New York Giants
According to Football Outsiders, the Giants had the worst offense in the NFL last season and it wasn’t close. Their weighted offensive DVOA was -41.7 percent, a full 10.5 percent worse than the Carolina Panthers before them at -30.2 percent. Jones probably isn’t the answer for quarterback, but in his 11 starts it’s not like he has a league-average offensive line ahead of him. And none of these quarterback prospects are special enough to help the Giants with this bad O-Line play.
An offensive tackle is a priority for her at the No. 5 overall rating, and if it’s available, Alabama’s Evan Neal is the answer. There were rumors about his health that his camp was shot down powerful. It’s lie season in the NFL, so who knows which team might have broken the news that Neal has some medical issues, but he’s the best offensive lineman on the board, ready to anchor pass protection. If the Giants can’t get him, then NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu is the next best pick. He may not be the pass blocker Neal is right now, but he has the physical gifts to get where the Giants need him if coached well enough and could potentially become one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL .
With the seventh pick, the Giants almost need to take both tackles when they’re available, but they lack the blast at wide receiver. Your best bet is Jameson Williams. Sure, he tore his cruciate ligament in the national championship game, but the Giants are stuck with Jones in 2022 anyway. Rebuild the O-Line, take that special talent in the first round and maybe the Giants with a promising quarterback class can turn 2023 around ship for the long haul.
New York Jets
How many quarterbacks have the Jets kept for the QB1 of the future? There was Mark Sanchez from USC and Geno Smith from West Virginia and Sam Darnold from USC. They’re on their third since Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 31 passing touchdowns in 2015. Their newest hope is Zach Wilson. Like most rookie quarterbacks in 2021, he’s had problems — nine touchdowns, 11 interceptions. But since the frequently injured Chad Pennington was drafted in 2000, every young quarterback has fought for the Jets.
Wilson suffered from an injury last season, only starting in 13 of 17 games, and other players like Corey Davis also missed time. That doesn’t explain the Jets’ biggest problem, however, who had the worst defense in the NFL last season, according to the Football Outsiders’ DVOA. Unless Wilson transitions into Patrick Mahomes in Year 2, there’s no reason to expect a better season with this defense. So the Jets got to work that side of the ball during the offseason, adding CB DJ Reed, safety Jordan Whitehead and DE Jacob Martin.
With the fourth overall pick, what Jerry Jones would call a “war daddy” pass rusher could help cement a significant defensive improvement. Their problem is that the first three picks in the draft could potentially be pass rushers. If Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson, Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux or Georgia’s Travon Walker are left, one of those three should be the Jets’ first pick. If not, the only option left is the best player on the board, and that would be Cincinnati’s Sauce Gardner. Young corners like Marshon Lattimore and Tre’Davious White immediately made their mark in the league, and at 6-foot-3 with a 4.41-40-yard dash, Gardner and Reed were able to free their defense to get into the front seven did when Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie played cornerback for the Rex Ryan AFC Championship Game teams.
At 10th pick, the Jets also need help at wide receiver and can’t afford to wait a season for Williams to get healthy unless they think he’s Randy Moss with Terrell Owens biceps. The answer here is either Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson or USC’s Drake London. But if he’s available, the Jets need Wilson. Santana Moss was perhaps the last Jets wide receiver to truly scare defenses with his ability to score from anywhere on the field. That kind of threat Wilson can provide may be just what Zach Wilson needs to become the star quarterback he was predicted to emerge from BYU.