Munich – At least now it’s clear that this NFL draft (day two and three live on ran.de) is special. Distinguishes clearly from previous events. It starts, of course, with the venue: Las Vegas, the gambler’s paradise in Nevada. Possibly the most dazzling city in the world.
In glorious sunshine, the stars of tomorrow will be brought together with their team in the open air. Only one quarterback went off the board in the first round, only defenders were selected in the top five positions, followed by three offensive tackles in the top ten.
Jets and Giants: Back flap instead of frowning
And the teams acted as if a volume discount had been proclaimed on these deals. 18 of the first 32 round selections were traded in advance. Some fans or experts had to shake themselves first.
But the craziest thing about this first draft day was that the New York clubs really delivered. Yes definitely! Jets! And the giants! In the last few years, the two franchises have almost always had their heads shaken or at best shaken on their heads with their choices, but this time it’s the order of the day.
Three first-round picks for the Jets, two for the Giants
Of course, it should not be kept secret: the possibility of both franchises was more advantageous than it had been for a long time. The Jets were allowed to pick fourth and tenth place, also traded up to 26 in the final sprint, the Giants were in fifth and seventh place.
Formidable starting positions. But in the past, front offices were often in no way over ruining any template that was still too good. Basically, fumble the ball on the one-yard line.
But in 2022, everything will be different. And this day officially belonged to Las Vegas, but the scene belonged to the duo from New York.
Saleh on Gardner: “He knows it all”
Let’s start with the jets. In fourth place came “Gang Green” Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. The cornerback enters the NFL with a recommendation not to have allowed a single touchdown in his coverage of college. Although he did not find his way onto the stage in the beginning – the 21-year-old had to take the vulnerable secondary to a new level.
Gardner, who surprisingly reached the playoffs in 2021 with the Cincinnati Bearcats, is likely to have to shift from man coverage to zone defense. But head coach Robert Saleh believes his rookie is capable of that: “He’s also a great zone corner, he can play it, he knows it all. He’s elite.”
Gardner studies Revis videos
Gardner himself is inspired, among other things, by former Jets professional Darrelle Revis. “I still see it sometimes,” he gave an insight into his private video studios. He has been bearing his nickname since he was six years old because of his penchant for sauces.
That’s how Gardner knew how to present himself in Las Vegas – where it’s a special challenge to really stand out between all the excesses. He wore the word “sauce” like a diamond pendant on an impressive necklace that dangled from his chest and made it clear: “You can never get too much sauce.”
Even before Gardner, the Jets’ pass defense had received remarkable support – from cornerback DJ Reed and safety Jordan Whitehead. The other major construction sites in the squad were also addressed.
Wilson is looking forward to Wilson
In tenth position, a wide receiver was brought in with Garrett Wilson. With the choice going to New York in a trade with Jamal Adams of the Seattle Seahawks. The 21-year-old had 23 receiving touchdowns and a 1,000-yard rushing season in three college years with the Ohio State Buckeyes.
There is great anticipation for Zach Wilson, who is under special scrutiny this season. The quarterback, who was selected as the second choice a year ago, tweeted: “What’s better than one Wilson? Two Wilsons. Let’s get started!”
Head coach sweats because of Johnson
Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas would also have liked to have been active again before – in the draft. To secure Jermaine Johnson’s services, they considered trading up to position 15. The contact with the relevant clubs existed. But in the end, they had to stand and hope.
Saleh later teased Douglas: “He said he was nervous, but it was me who wiped my sweat with a towel.” The good mood could of course also be explained by the fact that the desired player for the position as defender could still be selected.
Saleh talks about “really good day”
Johnson was actually on the verge of a 26th place finish. And the Jets grabbed it. According to the 23-year-old who was active in college for the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida State Seminoles, the unexpectedly long wait did not bother him: “I was just excited and kept reminding myself: I’m in the Green Room, I “It’s a special time, and I’m glad the Jets came and got me.”
Douglas admitted he was “very surprised” that things worked out with Johnson. In any case, his coach gave a thumbs up for the day’s work: “You get three influential players in three important positions. That’s what you dream of. It’s a really good day.”
“CBS” reporter Jordan Dajani agrees. He sums up: “The Jets are probably the biggest winner of the first round of the draft.” Of course, most had choices so far, but you need to use them in a promising way.
New Giants GM collects plus points
In this category, the Giants had not recommended special applause in recent years. So the new General Manager Joe Schoen was able to gather a few plus points here.
He put his focus on the scrimmage line. In fifth place, GM brought an even higher traded defensive finish to the “Big Apple” in Kayvon Thibodeaux.
The shoe looks at the pass rush
“We are very happy to have a really good pass-rusher on five with Kayvon Thibodeaux,” said Schoen, who also referred to Azeez Ojulari on the other side of the D-Line: “Pass-rushing is very important to us, we is really excited to now have two such young pass-rushers on the team. “
Thibodeaux, who annoyed NFL boss Roger Goodell at draft stage with his special handshake salute, played for the Oregon Ducks and had 49 tackles and seven kicks in just 10 appearances in 2021. The 21-year-old certainly does not have to hide behind top picks Travon Walker and Aidan Hutchinson .
Thibodeaux: “New York is the center of the world”
ESPN analyst Mina Kimes even called Thibodeaux the “theft of the draft”.
His problem and the luck of the giants: Some teams are said to be in doubt about Thibodeaux’s work attitude. But at least the defensive end seemed like he could not be happier anywhere: “I’m competitive and I’m hungry and I think New York is at the center of a world where everyone consumes everyone else . “
Neal is coming – because Ekwonu was already gone
Evan Neal, who was selected two positions later, will also be at home there in the future. A trade with the Chicago Bears a year ago made it possible. By playing for the Alabama Crimson Tide, the offensive tackle is about giving quarterback Daniel Jones more pocket time and clearing the way for returning Saquon Barkley.
Instead of the 21-year-old, “G-Men” would also have taken Ikem Ekwonu, it is said, but he ended up as the sixth pick with the Carolina Panthers. In any case, Schoen may feel justified, for he decided to tackle the pass rush first and only then strengthen the O-Line.
The shoe looks “show depth” in the O-Line
The general manager now sees the Giants well placed in front of the quarterback: “Now with Evan Neal, it’s an interesting group and we have some depth.” Jamil Douglas, Max Garcia and Matt Gono have all been signed in the past, with Matt Peart returning from a knee injury.
Neal comes with experience from guard, right tackle and left tackle tasks. According to “ESPN”, he can be expected in “Big Blue” on the right in O-Line.
“The Giants get a boy who works as hard as possible every day to do his best and ultimately helps the team,” promises the 2.01-meter man. Everyone likes to hear that. Whether it’s a general manager, coach, club manager, fan or teammate.
It is well known that New York is the city that never sleeps. At any rate, the two football galleon figures on this day were wide awake. And everyone who shares a fever with them should have fallen asleep happy at night.
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