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Post-Draft Evaluation: New York Jets

Image: Bill Kostroun/NY Post

Finally Got A Quarterback, But Trade Cost Them

By trading down two spots as part of acquiring future hall-of-fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the New York Jets lost their chance at acquiring any of the top four offensive lineman which the Jets could have absolutely needed. The Jets dealt with a lot of injuries at that position including Mekhi Becton, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Max Mitchell, and others. It was imperative the Jets landed a premiere offensive tackle to protect their shiny new investment in Aaron Rodgers who is 39-years old.

Who Did They Lose Out On

Paris Johnson Jr. was the first offensive lineman taken as he was selected sixth overall by the Arizona Cardinals. Then at picks 10 and 11 overall, back-to-back offensive lineman were selected in Darnell Wright going to the Chicago Bears and Peter Skoronski going to the Tennessee Titans. Then, the Pittsburgh Steelers traded up with the New England Patriots to jump the Jets for the fourth offensive tackle at 14th overall in Broderick Jones.

Bill Belichick Playing Chess, Jets Playing Checkers

Rumors have been floating around that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick intentionally low-balled the Steelers and made the trade in hopes of taking the Jets selection in Jones before them. Supposedly Belichick had better offers including getting a third-round pick as opposed to the fourth-round pick they got from the Steelers. However, Jets fans should be ecstatic as for years they were tormented by Belichick and Tom Brady, now Jets fans are finally getting the last laugh.

First Round Pick:

Before the draft, I said two prospects the Jets should go after is Jones or Skoronski. Unfortunately, both were not available by the 15th pick. The Jets selected Will McDonald the edge rusher out of Iowa State University. McDonald at the time was a headscratcher as he was not even the best edge rusher available. Both Myles Murphy and Nolan Smith are better prospects the Jets could have gone with. Or, they could have drafted the flashy wide receiver Rodgers liked in Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Another problem I have with McDonald pick is he is going to be 24 in June and not even have a single down played in the NFL.

However, Let’s talk about the positives with him. McDonald had a productive career as a Cyclone with 34 sacks and 40.5 tackles for loss over five seasons. 11.5 of his 34 sacks came in 2021 which was his Junior season. Over the past two seasons, McDonald had Pro Football Focus (PFF) pass-rush grades of 84.4 and 84.2. More impressively, McDonald’s athleticism is shown by his 9.66/10 Relative Atheltic Score (RAS). McDonald clearly is athletic and he can be a huge staple to this New York Jets offense with a nose for getting after the quarterback and forcing fumbles. He forced ten fumbles in his career, with five of them coming in his junior season.

Grade: C+

Second Round Pick:

Another shocking pick the Jets made was in the second round by selecting center Joe Tippmann out of the University of Wisconsin. The Jets just re-signed center Connor McGovern. But perhaps, since they only re-signed him to a one-year deal and he will be 31, this pick was simply for the future. However, he was not even the best center available as that was John Michael Schmitz who ended up with the other team that plays at MetLife Stadium in the New York Giants.

However, Tippmann is bigger at 6’6 and 313 lbs. as well as two years younger, so maybe that is why general manager Joe Douglas went with Tippmann. Over the past two seasons, he has allowed just one sack and eight total pressures in 625 pass-blocking snaps. Another reason to love him, is he has versatility and even though he will most likely play center, he could also play offensive guard.

Grade: A-

Fourth Round Pick:

In the fourth round, the Jets took an offensive tackle in Carter Warren out of the University of Pittsburgh. Warren has been a solid pass-blocker over the past two seasons, with 80.9 and 81.5 pass-blocking grades, respectively. He adds to that depth at the offensive line position which the Jets definitely could have used last season.

Grade: B+

Fifth Round Pick:

The Jets in the fifth round got a steal at running back in Israel Abanikanda also out of the University of Pittsburgh. He serves as depth to Zonovan Knight, Michael Carter, and former first-round pick Breece Hall who is recovering from a torn ACL. Abanikanda erupted his senior season logging 1,431 rushing yards with 20 touchdowns. He can also be utilized as a kick returner. The only reason this pick is not a A+ is because they already have three solid running backs so it will be interesting to see how much he is used.

Grade: A

Sixth Round Pick:

In the sixth round, they selected linebacker Zaire Barnes out of Western Michigan. In his collegiate career, he has played a multitude of positions including defensive back sand safety before switching to a linebacker. Barnes will most likely be used as a special teamer but could see time on defense in place of Kwon Alexander.

Grade: C

Sixth Round Pick 2:

With their second pick in the sixth round, they selected Jarrick Bernard-Converse a defensive back out of LSU. Before LSU, he also spent time at Oklahoma State University. In college, he has played both safety, outside and slot corner. He will also mostly be used for depth and special teams.

Grade: C+

Seventh Round Pick:

The Jets last pick in the draft was used on tight end Zack Kuntz. Kuntz spent three years at Penn State before transferring to Old Dominion. Kuntz ran a 4.55 40-yard dash at 6’7 and 255 pounds. He also showed off the athleticism with a perfect 10 RAS score. However, the position is a head scratcher as they already have C.J. Uzomah, Tyler Conklin, and Jeremy Ruckert.

Grade: A-

Overall Grade:

The New York Jets draft results were fairly good for the most part. They have an overall grade of a B. The New York Jets draft was definitely a success and now they look to finally snap that playoff drought of 12 years and counting.

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