5 players the NY Jets could've drafted instead of Will McDonald

Who could the Jets have drafted instead of McDonald?

NY Jets, Will McDonald
NY Jets, Will McDonald / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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2. The NY Jets could've drafted Brian Branch instead of Will McDonald

The Jets desperately needed to address the offensive side of the ball in the 2023 NFL Draft, but if the team was going to add a defensive player on Day 1, it would've made sense to target a safety.

The duo of Jordan Whitehead and Tony Adams proved to be the lone Achilles heel in an otherwise outstanding defense in 2023. One player who could've completed the Jets' defense is Brian Branch.

Branch was seen by most to be a day-one lock, which is why it was surprising to see him fall all the way to pick No. 45 in the second round. The Lions won't be complaining, though, as they landed one of the finalists for Defensive Rookie of the Year in the middle of Round 2.

Branch primarily played in a nickel hybrid role for the Lions, but he starred at Alabama as a safety and would've been an instant upgrade over either of the Jets' starting safeties. If the Jets wanted to go the defensive route, Branch made a lot more sense than McDonald at the time, and he still does now.

1. The NY Jets could've drafted Jordan Addison instead of Will McDonald

Once again, the Jets seriously undervalued the wide receivers in this draft class. While the likes of Zay Flowers and Jaxon Smith-Njigba (who also could've been on this list) thrived as rookies, perhaps no first-round receiver was more impressive than Jordan Addison.

The former USC star was excellent as a rookie, helping mask the loss of Justin Jefferson while he was sidelined with an injury. Addison finished his rookie year with 70 catches for 911 yards and 10 touchdowns.

He did so while also being forced to deal with four different starting quarterbacks — much like he would've if he was drafted by the Jets. The Jets had just 11 receiving touchdowns in 2023. Addison alone had 10.

Instead of trusting the likes of Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman, Randall Cobb, and a pre-retirement Corey Davis, the Jets could've prioritized adding a wide receiver over a developmental fifth-string defensive end. Unfortunately, we know that's not what happened.

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