5. The NY Jets could draft a lineman
Ahh...we have arrived at the most likely scenario. All signs point to the Jets taking an offensive lineman in the 2023 NFL draft, and most likely a few of them throughout.
At pick 13, they are targeting a few offensive tackles, most notably Broderick Jones from Georgia, Peter Skoronski from Northwestern, and Paris Johnson Jr. from Ohio State.
Although those are the big names, other names mentioned on the offensive line that the Jets could target include Darnell Wright of Tennessee, Dawand Jones of Ohio State, John Michael Schmitz of Minnesota, Joe Tippmann of Wisconsin, and Luke Wypler of Ohio State.
None of these players are worthy of the number 13 pick in my mind, although are definitely in play in round two or in the trade-back scenarios explained above.
Of the big three tackles in the draft, any are immediate starters for the Jets in 2023. Of the bunch, my preference is Skoronski out of Northwestern for his extensive experience as a left tackle and his proven track record against some really good pass rushers.
This does not mean that Jones or Johnson are bad options, but both spent parts of their careers playing elsewhere along the line.
I have also seen a lot of reports that the Jets might be interested in Wright or Dawand Jones because of their experience playing right tackle. Taking a playmaker on offense or defense at 13 and then Wright or Jones at 42/43 might look like a best-of-both-worlds scenario.
The best scenario for the Jets is a plug-and-play left tackle, Laken Tomlinson at left guard, a plug-and-play center (or Ben Jones), Alijah Vera-Tucker at right guard, and Mekhi Becton at right tackle.
Duane Brown would be a great mentor and trainer for the rookie and provide great depth with some nice depth signings across the line so far.
If the Jets put off a tackle until round two, they would be heavily relying on the health of a 38-year-old Brown and Becton, who has played exactly one game in two years, to play arguably the most important position on the field. I don't like those chances.
The other direction for the Jets at 13 is to address the defensive line. In my mock draft from a week ago, I traded down, recouped draft capital given up in the Rodgers trade, and selected defensive tackle Kancey from Pittsburgh at pick 20. I was then able to select Dawand Jones and Luke Wypler in the second round with the additional draft picks from the trade down.
Kancey, the most likely defensive lineman on the board at pick 13, is drawing comparisons to Aaron Donald for obvious reasons. Both are insanely strong defensive tackles from Pittsburgh, but the similarities don't stop there. Kancey will be good, especially next to Quinnen Williams, and will provide nice flexibility on the defensive line.
Other defensive line options include Jalen Carter if he happens to slip down the board on draft night, Lukas Van Ness, Bryan Breece, or Nolan Smith on the edge. The defensive line is one of the deepest position groups in the 2023 draft and plenty of options make sense for the NY Jets at pick 13, or later in the round.
When taking into consideration just how much general Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh want to build up the offensive and defensive lines first, taking a lineman in the first round makes the most sense.
In the crazy scenario that the big three offensive tackles and the top-of-the-market defensive linemen are all gone by pick 13, the Jets could still trade down before selecting a lineman later due to the depth at both position groups.
With all that in mind, I project the Jets take an offensive tackle at pick 13, most likely Broderick Jones of Georgia, if I had to choose one.
I think Skoronski is off the board by 13, and with the tape of Jones doing a good job on Will Anderson when they played Alabama this year, I think the Jets take him as the left tackle of the future. Fallback options include Johnson, Wright, Kancey, and Nolan Smith.