Complete grades and analysis for the NY Jets 2023 NFL Draft class

Will McDonald, NY Jets
Will McDonald, NY Jets / David Purdy/GettyImages
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The 2023 NFL Draft has come and gone, and the NY Jets had a decent draft haul. There were some surprising picks, but overall, the Jets did a good job, given their draft capital. Let’s grade the Jets' 2023 draft class.

Round 1, 15th Overall, NY Jets: Will McDonald, EDGE, Iowa State

The biggest surprise of the draft was the Jets selecting Iowa State edge rusher Will McDonald with the 15th overall pick. The Pittsburgh Steelers traded up to 13 and stole the Jets' likely target, offensive tackle Broderick Jones.

The pick swap from 13 to 15 in the Aaron Rodgers trade wound up costing the Jets a chance at all four of the top offensive tackles.

At this point, many were expecting the Jets to select wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, defensive tackle Calijah Kancey, tight end Dalton Kincaid, or even trade back. Although they probably wanted to but could not find a partner, the Jets stayed at 15 and selected McDonald.

Edge rusher was probably seen as a bigger need for the Jets than the fans realize, but even then, there are questions about why the pick would be McDonald over Georgia edge rusher Nolan Smith.

Either way, a couple of days removed from the pick, it seems much better than the original backlash. McDonald offers Robert Saleh’s defense something that it does not have right now: a long, athletic, talented edge rusher with a knack for forcing fumbles.

Despite being misused at Iowa State, McDonald still had a productive career with 34 sacks and 40.5 tackles for loss over five seasons. Over the past two seasons, McDonald had Pro Football Focus (PFF) pass-rush grades of 84.4 and 84.2.

More impressively, McDonald had an elite-level true pass set pass rush grade of 92.4. McDonald’s athleticism is shown by his 9.66/10 Relative Atheltic Score (RAS), which is something most of these draft picks have in common.

It took a little while to come around to this pick, but with Carl Lawson and Bryce Huff likely gone next season, McDonald makes a lot of sense.

Grade: B