The NY Jets made one of the most surprising picks of the 2023 NFL Draft when they selected Iowa State edge rusher Will McDonald with the 15th overall pick. It was a stunning selection for a number of reasons.
Not only were the Jets already loaded at edge rusher, but McDonald himself was widely seen as a fringe Day 1 prospect. You'd be hard-pressed to find a mock draft that had him going in the top 15.
Of course, the NFL Draft is unpredictable. It's impossible to predict at this stage how McDonald will develop in the NFL. That doesn't mean we can't provide some post-draft analysis, however.
The Jets would have been better off going a different route with their first-round pick. Any of the following four players would have made more sense for the team than McDonald.
4. Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
The Jets didn't need to draft an edge rusher, but with their top four offensive tackle targets off the board, the approach is at least a little more understandable. That said, McDonald shouldn't even have been their preferred choice.
McDonald will turn 24 in June, is coming off a disappointing senior season, and weighs just 239 pounds. The Athletic's Dane Brugler had him ranked as the eighth-best edge defender in this year's class.
Meanwhile, Georgia's Nolan Smith, a consensus top three or four edge rusher, was still on the board. He ended up falling all the way to the Philadelphia Eagles at pick 30 in what many are calling one of the steals of the draft.
Smith is two years younger than McDonald, is arguably an even better athlete, and could be considered a more versatile player. If the Jets were going to draft an edge rusher, it should've been Smith.