5 options the NY Jets could explore with the No. 13 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft
By Ryan Shafer
4. The NY Jets could draft a skill player
Putting behind some of the more unlikely scenarios let's dive into what the Jets are most likely to do. In this option, the Jets decide to add to their skill rooms with speed and agility instead of a big body in the trenches.
Who might they take at Pick 13 if they do target a skill player? The two most likely options are Jaxon Smith-Njigba from Ohio State and Brian Branch from Alabama.
The two players could not be more different, with Smith-Njigba playing wide receiver and Branch playing defensive back, but both make a lot of sense for the Jets for different reasons.
Smith-Njigba is the only real first-round talent at receiver in this draft. Although hurt for much of the 2022 season, he posted unreal numbers in 2021, when he was teammates with Jets receiver Garrett Wilson. He can play in the slot or outside and can run every pattern in the route tree.
Assuming Corey Davis is included in the Rodgers trade, as is widely believed, and assuming the trade happens before the draft, as many speculate, the Jets would be in need of a receiver to add to the roster.
Smith-Njigba would be a cheap replacement who could elevate the group tremendously for Rodgers as he comes over. Think about the speed and athleticism that Wilson, Smith-Njigba, Mecole Hardman, and Allen Lazard bring to the table.
Branch would fill a completely different need for the Jets. A combination of safety and cornerback at Alabama, Branch can slide in and play immediately for the Jets. After trading for Chuck Clark, many fans think that the Jets are set at safety.
Although Clark and Whitehead do form a nice tandem at safety, the Jets really need to add a true free safety. Both Clark and Whitehead are best deployed as "box" players near the line of scrimmage.
At Alabama Branch flashed an ability to cover the deep middle of the field, while also possessing a knack for the ball, covering receivers in space week in and week out.
Transitioning to a full-time NFL safety might take him some time, but he would still be an immediate upgrade over anything on the roster, unlocking some serious versatility for the Jets' defense.
Imagine trying to complete passes and run routes on a secondary featuring Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, Michael Carter II, Jordan Whitehead/Chuck Clark, and Brian Branch.
That would open up blitz packages galore for coach Saleh and allow that defensive front to really pressure the opposing quarterback.