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The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft took place on Thursday night, and the Jets made an interesting decision with their No. 15 overall pick. The team picked up Iowa State edge rusher Will McDonald in what was deemed as a stunner.
McDonald had an impressive college career with a total of 34 sacks, 11 ½ of which he secured in the 2021 season. While not many people expected McDonald to be taken this early in the draft, the Jets saw value in him and made the decision to go for it.
McDonald joins a group of talented pass rushers on the Jets, including Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers, and Jermaine Johnson, a first-round pick from last year.
The Jets’ original plan was to secure an offensive lineman with their first pick, but due to the top four linemen already being off the board before the Jets picked, they were left with few options. The Steelers were able to grab Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones from the Jets just before the team was on the clock.
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The Jets did manage to move up from their No. 13 to No. 15 pick thanks to a trade with the Packers for Aaron Rodgers. However, this may have cost the team a valuable offensive lineman, since Paris Johnson (Cardinals), Darnell Wright (Bears), and Peter Skoronski (Titans) were already taken earlier in the draft.
It was clear that the Jets attempted to trade out of the No. 15 pick, allowing the time on the clock to run out almost completely before drafting McDonald. Even if he wasn’t the team’s first choice, the Jets clearly saw potential in McDonald and believe that he will make a significant contribution to their defense.