The Jets won’t know where their first-round pick in the 2023 NFL draft falls until after the season finale in Miami. But they currently sit in the No. 13 spot. And ESPN’s latest mock draft projects they will look to improve the offensive line in front of their to-be-determined quarterback and snag Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson.
General manager Joe Douglas has shown an emphasis on drafting premium positions in Round 1, and we’ve already seen a lot of promise from the Jets’ 2022 class. New York could now look to the offensive line, with Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker returning from injury and George Fant set to hit free agency. Johnson is a potential early starter with experience at guard and tackle, and like [Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski, the projected No. 10 pick], he’s a fit on the outside in the NFL — which is where the Jets need an infusion of young talent. He has quick feet and strong hands both as a pass protector and run blocker.
The pick makes sense. Fant will likely walk in free agency. And who knows what to expect with Becton after missing basically two whole seasons. But unless the Jets have landed a veteran quarterback in free agency or trade, it will be second-guessed by many. Especially when quarterbacks are expected to be available in the neighborhood of where the Jets are picking — ESPN has Kentucky’s Will Levis going to the Raiders at No. 7 and Florida’s Anthony Richardson landing with the Panthers at No. 9.
But then again, those are raw players who need significant development. Which has not been a strength for the Jets with Zach Wilson. Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud are expected to be the quarterback prizes this cycle. And they figure to be off the board in the top-5. Trading up there is likely too rich for Douglas at this point. A move into the bottom half of the top-10 could be different.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]