The Jets would certainly do the Aaron Rodgers deal again. But it did nip them a bit in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft.
Gang Green selected Iowa State linebacker Will McDonald IV with the No. 15 pick. But their pick swap with the Packers as part of the Rodgers deal — the Jets originally had the 13th selection — cost them the offensive tackle they coveted. That and the good old Patriots screwjob.
The Bears surprisingly took Tennessee’s Darnell Wright at No. 10, the Titans took Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski at No. 11 and then the Steelers traded up, grabbing the Patriots’ No. 14 pick to take Georgia’s Broderick Jones and end the run on tackles with first-round grades. So the Jets settled for McDonald, who has the chance to be a standout pass rusher. But he is not a guy who will keep Rodgers off the ground. Or give the Jets insurance alongside veteran Duane Brown and wild card Mekhi Becton.
McDonald is a long and explosive edge rusher with good bend and closing burst. He has the foot speed to win with weave and inside moves, and he flashes an effective spin move to the inside. He doesn’t gear down when he gets doubled or doesn’t win with his first move, and he gets his hands up in passing windows. McDonald needs to get stronger to unlock his full potential as a pass-rusher. He’s light for an edge defender and gives ground at times, but he shoots his hands, stacks blockers and rarely stays blocked. He’s rangy and closes well in pursuit. McDonald’s quickest path to an NFL starting lineup is at 3-4 outside linebacker, but he has the skill set to develop into a starting defensive end while making immediate contributions as a pass-rusher.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.