Willie Colon didn’t like the Jets’ 2022 NFL Draft. He loved it.
“Man, they dominated. I honestly think that’s, if not [the], one of the best drafts in Jets history,” Colon, 39, the Super Bowl champion ex-Steeler and Jet, said Monday at his eighth annual charity event to raise money for the Lupus Research Alliance.
“They needed to address talent, depth and overall team speed,” Colon added, before teeing off at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J. “They hit all of them. And they set it up for the future.”
Former Jets standout linebacker David Harris, a Michigan man, said Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson is a special talent.
“I went to Michigan. That guy is a really good player,” Harris, 38, said. “If he can do the same thing he did at Ohio State on this level, that would be a huge addition to our offense.”
Harris said Jets coach Robert Saleh is “very intense” and that he has no doubt GM Joe Douglas “drafted guys that match his personality.”
That’s one thing that set this draft apart for Colon: he didn’t just like the Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and Wilson picks at the top of the first round. He also liked how Douglas completed the draft to complement Saleh’s system and style on defense.
“For them to get Jermaine Johnson at 26 and in the later rounds get the kid [Micheal] Clemons from Texas A&M, an animal himself,” said Colon, a host on Mad Sports Radio’s ‘The Morning Men’ for SiriusXM Radio. “Now you’ve got two edge rushers in Saleh’s defense, which you need for that defense to be effective. You need guys to get after the quarterback. So to have two young guys you can put in the pipeline who can grow together and have that type of talent? That’s enormous.”
Football wasn’t foremost on Colon’s mind on Monday, though. Raising money for the Lupus Research Alliance through his Willie Colon Foundation is a cause close to his heart.
His mother, Jean Davis, who died in July 2020 at age 70, suffered from lupus and battled it throughout her son’s life.
“She was diagnosed when I was roughly in the first grade,” Colon said Monday. “But in her time on Earth, she always put our family before herself and never succumbed to it. She was pretty tough. And between my playing days and being on this platform and the outlets I have, I’m always trying to find a cure for lupus and working closely with the LRA. I’m never gonna stop fighting for lupus.”
LRA executive director Andrea O’Neill said Monday’s event raised more than $350,000, with 61 foursomes going out on Canoe Brook’s two courses.
“It’s for a great cause,” O’Neill said. “Our research is progressing. There’s great promise. There’s been three new treatments in the last two years since the pandemic. It keeps growing. And the more we can get more research, the better treatments and hopefully a cure.”
Max Starks, a two-time Steelers Super Bowl champion and former teammate, said one of his best friends since childhood has battled lupus most of her life. So he’s always there for Colon and the fight for a cure.
“Dealing with it on a personal level family wise, seeing what he started here with the Lupus Research Alliance, working on ways to help people deal and live with lupus was really important to me,” Starks said.
Knicks legend Allan Houston, great Steelers linebacker James Farrior, former Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and Titans star defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons were among the many big names who attended to support Colon and the lupus cause.
It also brought a smile to Colon’s face, though, to see the Jets maybe turning a corner.
“I think all their draft picks make sense,” he said. “Sometimes the Jets in the past you’d be like, ‘Man this guy, there’s always something about him,’ or you’re chasing the quarterback,” he said. “Everybody who was drafted, they make sense.
“Like [Iowa State running back] Bryce Hall, the fact you got Garrett Wilson,” he continued. “You’re talking about now Elijah Moore can play outside, it frees him up to play anything, he doesn’t have to be a dominant slot. It just opens up the offense. I thought they did a phenomenal job.”