NY Jets land one of the steals of the 2023 NFL Draft in RB Israel Abanikanda

NY Jets, Israel Abanikanda
NY Jets, Israel Abanikanda / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The NY Jets have made a significant Day 3 splash, drafting Pittsburgh running back Israel Abanikanda with the 143rd overall pick in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Abanikanda was widely seen as a Day 2 prospect and one of the best running backs in this year's class. This is the best value pick the Jets have made to this point, and absolutely the most exciting.

The Jets actually selected Abanikanda's teammate at Pittsburgh, Carter Warren, with their previous pick in the fourth round. Much like Warren, Abanikanda is another local product, born and raised in Brooklyn.

At just 20 years old (he doesn't turn 21 until October), Abanikanda is one of the most explosive running backs in this class and an excellent pick for the Jets on the third day of the draft.

The NY Jets landed a home-run hitter in Israel Abanikanda

Abanikanda led Pittsburgh in rushing in each of the last two seasons, but it was the 2022 season that truly put him on the NFL's radar. The Brooklyn native finished with 1,431 yards and 20 touchdowns in just 11 games.

His standout 2022 season earned him second-team All-American honors. During that season, Abanikanda broke Tony Dorsett's single-game rushing record with an unbelievable 320-yard, six-touchdown performance.

Abanikanda is a classic one-cut running back. He has breakaway 4.40 speed in open space with phenomenal vision and excellent instincts. He should be a perfect fit in the Jets' zone-blocking scheme.

The Jets already have a pretty deep running back depth chart, but the surprise release of Ty Johnson left a hole that Abanikanda will fill. He joins a recovering Breece Hall, Michael Carter, and Zonovan Knight in a very crowded running back room.

Abanikanda is a true home-run hitter in open space. He's an outside-zone specialist with quick feet, and it should be noted that he also has kick return experience. That likely played a part in the Jets drafting him.

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This is an outstanding value pick for the Jets. Abanikanda has a chance to become a really good player in New York.