The New York Jets had six picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, including selections in the first 50 picks. Their first selection at 15 was acquired from Green Bay in the blockbuster deal that landed them quarterback Aaron Rodgers. In addition to Rodgers, New York picked up receivers Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman.
After last year’s masterpiece of a draft where they selected ballhawk CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and electric running back Breece Hall, how did Gang Green do for a follow up?
Let’s take a look at how the Jets and GM Joe Douglas faired in this year’s draft.
Round 1: No. 15 (from Packers): Will McDonald, EDGE, Iowa State
Round 2: No. 43: Joe Tippman, C, Wisconsin
Round 4: No. 120 (from Steelers through Patriots): Carter Warren, OT, Pittsburgh
Round 5: No. 143 — Israel Abanikanda, RB, Pittsburgh
Round 6: No. 184 (from Raiders through Patriots) — Zaire Barnes, OLB, Western Michigan
Round 6: No. 204 (from Cowboys through Raiders) — Jarrick Bernard-Converse, CB, LSU
Round 7: No. 220 (from Raiders) — Zach Kuntz, TE, Old Dominion
Did Jets fill needs?
The consensus from this draft is a little underwhelming for Jets fans in comparison to last year’s flashy picks. McDonald is not likely to make an immediate impact as New York has established defensive linemen in Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, and Carl Lawson. The pick is a bit of a head-scratcher. Nonetheless, another defensive athlete for coach Robert Saleh and company.
The offensive line got deeper with Joe Tippman and Carter Warren. Tippman was a top-rated C out of Wisconsin and he could very well be starting by the end of the season. Abanikanda gives the Jets good depth at the running back position, last season at Pitt he exploded for a 320-yard rushing performance, setting a school record.
Rounding out the picks, Zaire Barnes has good tools and could compete for the third linebacker spot on the depth chart. Bernard-Converse could translate to the safety position well and gives good depth for special teams play. Kuntz is going to have a long road behind Tyler Cronklin and CJ Uzomah, but he has pretty good upside as a pass-catcher.
With only two offensive players taken off the board in Abanikanda and Kuntz, it’s a long shot for either will get significant snaps barring any injury. Abanikanda may get some second string work as Hall is expected to miss some time with ACL recovery but don’t count on him being a consistent fantasy option.
McDonald has great upside, but with the acquisition of Rodgers you just have a feeling Tippmann was selected for his ability to protect a QB. Tippmann is arguably the pick who will make the quickest fit and earn playing time. He was the first Center selected in this year’s draft and had the best run blocking grade for the Badgers in 12 games of action. Look for him to compete with Connor McGovern at training camp for starters reps.