5 players the NY Jets should target with the No. 43 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft
Day 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft is now over, and the NY Jets surprised everyone by selecting Will McDonald with the 15th overall pick. The swap of picks 13 and 15 in the Aaron Rodgers trade wound up costing them their likely target in Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones.
This leaves offensive tackle as an option for pick 43, however, in the post-draft press conference, Joe Douglas was adamant that they would never reach for a need and would always take the best player available.
With that being said, let’s take a look at five options for the Jets at pick 43.
1. Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
If the Jets do still want to take an offensive tackle, Dawand Jones could be their best option. Jones is a massive right tackle at 6-foot-8 and 374 pounds and would give them another option alongside Duane Brown, Mekhi Becton, and Max Mitchell.
Per Pro Football Focus, Jones allowed no sacks and only five total pressures in 419 pass-blocking snaps this season. Jones also earned some impressive grades from PFF, including an 85.0 run-blocking grade and a 90.8 zone-blocking grade.
After the issues the Jets have had with Becton, it is possible they will be hesitant to draft another tackle with weight issues, but Jones could be a starter at right tackle this season.
2. Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse
Another offensive tackle possibility is Syracuse’s Matthew Bergeron. Bergeron would be a good option for offensive tackle depth. He played both left and right tackle in college and found success at both spots.
Bergeron had PFF pass-blocking grades of 85.4 and 80.8 over the last two seasons. There is a question of if he would have to move inside to guard, but in time he should be able to stay at tackle.
Bergeron or a trade-back seems like the most likely scenarios at this point, although nobody could’ve predicted McDonald at 15, so who knows?
3. John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
The Jets re-signed Connor McGovern, but only to a one-year deal. Drafting John Michael Schmitz, who they have shown a lot of interest in throughout the pre-draft process, could serve two purposes. One, he could be the center of the future, and two, he allows the Jets to use Alijah Vera-Tucker for tackle depth if needed.
Schmitz allowed just two sacks and six pressures in 302 pass-blocking snaps per PFF. He also earned an elite-level 92.4 PFF run-blocking grade.
We saw in the first round that just because we think the Jets are set at a position doesn't mean they aren't looking toward the future. I would not be surprised at all if Schmitz is the pick.
4. Keeanu Benton, DT, Wisconsin
After taking an edge rusher in the first round, the Jets still have a need at defensive tackle. Keeanu Benton would be a great option to fill that need. Quinnen Williams, Quinton Jefferson, Solomon Thomas, and Benton would make a great group. That, combined with the defensive end room, gives Robert Saleh a very deep front four to rotate.
Benton had six sacks and 22 total pressures this past season and earned an 83.5 PFF pass-rush grade in 2022.
I find it hard to believe that the Jets' two top picks will both be on defense, but if they do want to go defense, Benton makes a ton of sense.
5. Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa
A bit of a curveball here, but I do think it’s a possibility the Jets poach one of these tight ends. Sam LaPorta gives them something they don’t currently have at the position and has the potential to be a difference-maker at tight end.
Rumors have it that the Jets could’ve taken Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs if he was available at 15 because they believed he was too good to pass up as a playmaker. If that is the case with LaPorta, or any of the available tight ends for that matter, maybe the Jets will take the chance.
LaPorta is only 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds but was one of the fastest tight ends at the Combine, running a 4.59 40-yard dash. Over two seasons as Iowa's starting tight end, LaPorta had 1,372 yards and four touchdowns.
More impressively, this past season, he earned an 85.3 PFF receiving grade and, after the catch, forced 20 missed tackles, which was the second most among all tight ends in college football.
Once the Pittsburgh Steelers jumped the Jets yesterday to take Broderick Jones, I thought there was a chance that they might select Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid, who wound up going to the Buffalo Bills.
At this point, I do not think a tight end is in the cards, but if they want to add a unique weapon to the offense, LaPorta gives them exactly that.
There are other great players still available going into Day 2. Guys like Brian Branch, Michael Mayer, and O'Cyrus Torrence are all excellent options for the Jets — I just expect them to be off the board by the time they pick at 43.
My prediction right now is that they will try to trade down. There is a lot of talent still available, and there is not one position they have to address. After 43, the Jets do not pick again until 112, which maybe they are okay with, but I think they would like some more flexibility.
The Jets still need offensive line depth, but there are a number of both interior offensive linemen and offensive tackles still available. Having Alijah Vera-Tucker helps with not needing to force a tackle.