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The New York Jets’ brass downplays unknown praise for the NFL draft class

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – The New York Jets, who have not done too many things right over the past decade, found themselves in an unusual position near the end of the NFL Draft on Saturday.

On the receiving end of universal praise.

Instead of bowing, coach Robert Saleh pulled it off.

“I’ve also been to places where we were universally mocked,” Saleh said, recalling his time as Seattle Seahawks assistant coach in 2012. “We took Bruce Irvin, Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson in the first three rounds and we got a D class, if I remember correctly.

“It does not matter. We have to develop these young men. They have to come in and they have to perform. We know that in about three years.”

The Jets ran off with seven players, including four of the top 36 picks. They used their original first-round pick on Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson, and they swapped into the bottom of the first round to pick Florida State defensive over Jermaine Johnson II. They traded up in the second round for Iowa State running back Breece Hall.

Gardner, Wilson and Hall were considered by many draft analysts to be the best players in their respective positions.

General manager Joe Douglas accumulated extra pull capital by trading with safety Jamal Adams and quarterback Sam Darnold in 2020 and 2021. respectively, when he went into the draft, he said the Jets had an opportunity to do “something special.”

Douglas would not call it that when it was over, but he was clearly pleased.

“A few things have jumped in our path in terms of the draft, but we also made the most of our opportunities by adding quality players,” said Douglas, who completed his third draft as GM. “Ultimately, we’ll see how it plays out in the next few years.

“Nothing ever fits perfectly with the draft, but I feel like the last two years things have gone our way and we are making the most of our opportunities.”

The Jets needed an influx of talent after finishing 4-13, their 11th consecutive season outside the playoffs – the league’s longest active drought.

After the top four picks, the Jets added tight-end Jeremy Ruckert in the third round, covering the draft with a couple of fourth-round picks – tackle Max Mitchell and defensive Micheal Clemons. They started with nine picks, but were left with a total of seven picks after swaps that allowed them to move up for Johnson and Hall.

One issue that remains is the status of the 2020 election in the first round, Mekhi Becton, who is due for a knee operation and is not participating in the offseason program. Speculation about him has been swirling for months. Saleh publicly lobbied for Becton, who has been dealing with weight issues, to rejoin the team.

“You want all your guys to be here,” Saleh said of the offensive tackle. “It’s voluntary, but I know he’s working on the tail in Dallas. We’ve in control of him. We know exactly what he’s doing, and we know where he’s in his rehab.”

Saleh looked at a TV camera and smiled, “We would love to have you back here, buddy. We will take care of you.”

Saleh put Becton on notice at the end of the season and said he would have to compete with George Fant to win the left tackle job back. On Saturday, he was evasive when asked about Becton’s role, suggesting there was a chance they could move him to the right tackle.

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