New York Jets draft class

New York Jets Draft Class Rankings Under Joe Douglas

In just a little over 24 hours from now, the 2024 NFL Draft will kick off in Detroit. The NFL Draft is always an exciting time for teams, fans, and prospects whose dreams will come true when they get the call. Joe Douglas and the New York Jets enter this draft with various options after filling many needs in free agency. For Douglas, it is another opportunity to build this roster up for a win-now 2024 with Aaron Rodgers. Since taking over in June of 2019, Douglas has gone through four drafts with this year being his fifth. It has mostly been a mixed bag, some good, some bad.

Today, let’s rank Joe Douglas’ four draft classes so far as he enters a crucial fifth draft.

New York Jets Draft Class Rankings Under Joe Douglas


1. 2022 Draft Class

You could argue strongly that this draft class saved Joe Douglas’ job as GM of the Jets. Another argument could be made that Aaron Rodgers wouldn’t be in The Big Apple right now if it wasn’t for the blue-chip talent Douglas found in this class. This group of prospects wasn’t just good it was historically good.

Cornerback Sauce Gardner who was selected fourth overall and wideout Garrett Wilson who was selected tenth overall, became the third of four pairs of teammates in NFL history to take home offensive and defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Gardner has also become the first cornerback since the NFL merger in 1970 to be named First-Team All-Pro in each of his first two seasons. As for Garrett Wilson, he has accumulated over 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first two seasons. In 2023, he became the first Jet to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons since Keyshawn Johnson in 1998-1999.

Sauce and Wilson aren’t the only two who have put the league on notice in their first two years. Douglas was able to trade back into the first round late that night and landed Jermaine Johnson who took off in 2022. His 7.5 sacks were five more than his rookie year and his 55 total tackles were 26 more than his rookie year. In the second round, the Jets landed Breece Hall who arguably when healthy is already near the top of his position. Hall was on his way to winning Rookie of the Year in 2022 before his torn ACL but was able to bounce back in a big way last season. Hall generated 1,585 all-purpose yards and nine total touchdowns behind the worst offensive line in football.

These are the types of draft classes that can change the direction of a franchise forever, which it did for New York. On top of the players already mentioned Douglas was able to add depth pieces in the third and fourth rounds in Jeremy Ruckert, Max Mitchell, and Micheal Clemons. The most exciting part of this class is all these young players are only entering year three and only getting better.

2. 2021 Draft Class

None of these classes listed the rest of the way will be even remotely close to 2022. For Douglas and the Jets, the 2021 draft is looked back on with a lot of mixed feelings because there was some good and some bad. The worst part of this class and what will be remembered the most is Zach Wilson who was selected second overall. On Monday afternoon, the disgruntled QB was traded to the Denver Broncos as he looks to get his career back on track.

In his three seasons, Wilson completed just 57% of his passes for 6,293 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 25 interceptions. Not many GMs get a second chance after missing on a quarterback that high but Douglas did and he capitalized a year later. A few other misses in this class included second-round wideout Elijah Moore who requested a trade in his second season and was dealt to the Cleveland Browns last offseason. On top of that, Michael Carter was cut mid-way through 2023 and was signed by the Arizona Cardinals. There are also a few other names who found new homes for a variety of reasons.

Despite some of those names listed, this class is number two on this list for a reason and that is because there was some good. First, Alijah Vera-Tucker who was selected 14th overall in this draft has turned out to be a really big piece for the offensive line. The big problem with Vera-Tucker has been injuries but when healthy he can be an All-Pro talent at both guard and tackle. While Douglas missed on one Michael Carter he didn’t miss on Michael Carter II who has turned into one of the best slot cornerbacks in football. Carter II has quickly become one of Douglas’ best picks as a GM considering he was selected in the fifth round, 154th overall. Another piece that fits nicely as depth is Brandin Echols who was taken in the sixth round.

Overall this class was very average and mainly a mixed bag. While the misses on Zach Wilson and Elijah Moore overshadow this class there was some good and those good pieces are set to make major contributions to this current Jets squad.

3. 2023 Draft Class

A case could be made that this class would fall as second best class of Douglas’ tenured but for right now let’s put it at three. It’s not that this class is bad, it’s not particularly good either, it’s just very unproven. Exactly one year ago from this upcoming Thursday Jets fans were in disbelief. Everyone in the NFL world thought Gang Green and Douglas would go after an offensive lineman or wide receiver to build around their newly acquired future Hall of Fame QB, Aaron Rodgers.

Instead, after the Pittsburgh Steelers traded up with the New England Patriots for the 14th overall pick and selected Broderick Jones, New York took EDGE Will McDonald. While McDonald an athletic freak has a lot of untapped potential and could see a year two leap coming in 2024 an EDGE rusher was the furthest thing from a need for New York. McDonald had three sacks and 14 total tackles in a developmental role in 2023. With all that being said, McDonald may turn out to be great and may take a Jermaine Johnson-like leap in 2024, but it is still up in the air and until proven otherwise this pick will be questioned.

Despite the questions surrounding round one in this class, Douglas did seem to hit in round two when New York selected center Joe Tippmann 43rd overall. In his rookie year, Tippmann was a lone bright spot when healthy on New York’s offensive line finishing with a 97.9 pass-block efficiency rating allowing just two QB hits.

Other picks in this class include Carter Warren, Israel Abanikanda, Zaire Barnes, Jarrick Bernard-Converse, and Zack Kuntz. All of these players saw minimal snaps last season and at best are most likely depth pieces in the future. This is a very athletic class but actual on-field performance is still in question.

4. 2020 Draft Class

In life not just sports, first impressions are really important, and let’s just say Douglas’ first draft impression on the organization and fans failed miserably. If it wasn’t for the infamous “Idzik 12” draft class in 2014, you could make a strong argument this would be in contention for the worst in franchise history. Out of nine players drafted in this class, only one remains on the team four years later.

The only player who remains is safety Ashtyn Davis would re-signed with the team a few weeks ago after having a career year in 2024. Let’s take a quick look at where the other eight players have landed since they were taken by New York in 2020.

To put it simply, this was Douglas’ first chance to lay the groundwork for a rebuild and he failed. What puts this class into perspective is the best player was UDFA Bryce Huff who is also no longer with the team. Until New York puts together wins and a playoff birth this draft will continue to linger.

Main Image: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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