NY Jets make shocking, puzzling draft pick in Will McDonald IV
By Justin Fried
The NY Jets went into the 2023 NFL Draft with some pretty clear roster needs to address. Most expected the team to draft an offensive lineman, but with the top four offensive tackles already off the board, the Jets were forced to pivot.
But they didn't pivot to a defensive tackle. They didn't pivot to a wide receiver. They didn't even pivot to a tight end. Instead, the Jets selected Iowa State edge rusher Will McDonald IV with the 15th overall pick in the draft.
This pick comes as a major surprise seeing as McDonald was widely seen as a fringe first-round pick. And with Georgia's Nolan Smith still on the board, very few would have seen him as the top edge rusher still available.
Despite this, the Jets clearly identified McDonald as their top target and they made the shocking selection. It's a head-scratcher, to say the least.
Who is new NY Jets edge rusher Will McDonald?
McDonald was a two-year starter at Iowa State who was named first-team All-American in 2021 following a standout season that saw him finish with 11.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss.
His senior season at Iowa State was a bit of a disappointment as he only recorded five sacks in 12 games, but he still earned first-team All-Big 12 honors. McDonald really helped his draft stock with a standout performance at the Senior Bowl.
That said, it's fair to question this pick for the Jets. For starters, the Jets are already overloaded at defensive end with Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers, Jermaine Johnson, Bryce Huff, and Micheal Clemons. Now you add the 15th overall pick to that room.
The Jets probably should've prioritized getting guys like Johnson and Huff more snaps in 2023, not fewer. McDonald is also an odd schematic fit for the Jets.
At 6-foot-3, 239 pounds, McDonald projects best as a stand-up edge rusher at the next level. His fit in an attacking 4-3 defense is an odd one, and it's hard to imagine he'll be a three-down player.
McDonald will turn 24 years old in June, and he's someone who relied heavily on his athletic traits in college. He's still a work in progress as a pass rusher and is a below-average run defender.
If McDonald can harness his physical traits (his twitch, bend, etc.), there's a chance he can develop into a really good pass rusher, but the fit just doesn't make much sense.
This is an odd pick for the Jets, and most definitely a surprising one.