Amid the constant Aaron Rodgers rumors, it is easy to forget that the 2023 NFL Draft is just as necessary for the Jets. The team still has holes on their roster to fill to become a true competitor in their division and the AFC as a whole. Additions on the offensive line have been considered the team’s top need, specifically at the offensive tackle and center positions. In addition, the Jets have been linked to interior defensive linemen, edge rushers, tight ends, and receivers in the draft.
With the draft essentially a week away, I decided to do a four-round mock draft for the Jets using the PFF Mock Draft Simulator. There was no Aaron Rodgers trade or other trades in this mock draft. The Jets, as a result, picked at #13, #42, #43, and #112.
Round 1, Pick #13: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
With Skoronski and Johnson Jr. off the board, the Jets fill one of their most significant needs by adding the talented offensive lineman from Georgia. Jones brings above-average athleticism to the position, as he posted a 4.97 forty-yard dash and a ten foot-9-inch broad jump at the NFL Combine. Jones utilizes this athleticism to be a force in both the passing game and run game; according to PFF, Jones posted an 84.1 pass-blocking grade and a 71.7 run-blocking grade. However, the offensive tackle prospect also has room to grow as a player, as Jones only started at Georgia in 2022. Outside of Jones, Darnell Wright, another talented tackle prospect out of Tennessee, could also be a solid selection in this spot.
Round 2, Pick #42: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Edge, Kansas State
If the Jets hold onto both the #42 and #43 overall picks, an edge rusher should be heavily considered for one of the sections. The Jets, in this scenario, take Felix Anudike-Uzomah out of Kansas State. Anudike-Uzomah brings a talented pass-rushing presence off the edge, totaling 19.5 combined sacks, 14 quarterback hits, and 54 quarterback hurries over the past two seasons. According to PFF, he also had a pass rush win rate of 15.9 percent and a true pass set pass rush grade of 83.0. With this type of production, Anudike-Uzomah also has good bend and athleticism; he posted a 4.34-second shuttle drill and a 6.94 three-cone drill at the NFL Combine. Anudike-Uzomah would add more explosiveness to the Jets’ edge rusher group and would give the team a future combination of him and 2022 first-round pick Jermaine Johnson.
Round 2, Pick #43: John Michael Schmitz, Center, Minnesota
The Jets’ next pick addresses a vital need at the center position, with the selection being Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz. A three-year starter, Michael Schmitz brings toughness and stable production to a position that the Jets need it at. He thrived in the zone running game in college, highlighted by a 91.5 PFF zone grade and a 92.4 zone block grade. Michael Schmitz also can provide value in the passing game and not be a liability. Despite not being the most athletic center, Michael Schmitz’s toughness and experience at the position would make him a key asset to the Jets’ offensive line.
Round 4, Pick #112: Anthony Johnson Jr., S, Iowa State
While this pick could be used on a wide receiver, interior defensive lineman, or linebacker, the Jets opted to take a safety with this pick. Johnson Jr, who switched from cornerback to safety this past season, possesses good athletic traits for the position, highlighted by a 4.55 40-yard dash and a ten-foot-five-inch broad jump. In addition, he has 90 combined tackles and 25 missed tackles over the past two seasons, showing a willingness to attack downhill but a need to improve his tackling angles. Johnson Jr. also posted, according to PFF, a 74.9 coverage grade, showing that his coverage skills translated to the new position. Having experience at cornerback and safety, Johnson Jr. would help round out the position group and give Robert Saleh another chess piece to work with on defense.
There are other needs that the Jets could address with these selections, but this draft class would solidify a roster that already has a good amount of talent on it. Currently, the Jets will be operating with three top 50 picks and four picks within the top 150 selections. While acquiring the future Hall-of-Famer in Rodgers is critical, hitting on this draft class is just as important, as it will set up the Jets for a successful present and future.
Edge rusher? I doubt it. The Jets are 5 deep on the edge. If they have both picks in round 2 one will be the best center whether that be JMS or Tippman. The other will be a DT. The S in 4 makes sense as WR is not a major need.