Draft needs, targets for Jets post-Aaron Rodgers trade

draft needs targets jets post aaron rodgers trade

History repeated itself on Monday with the Jets acquiring yet another legendary Packers quarterback, this time four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers.

The trade included the teams swapping first-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, with Green Bay receiving the Nos. 42 and 207 picks and a 2024 conditional second-round pick. New York also received the 170th overall selection, giving it five total picks in this year’s draft.

Since the Rodgers deal was in the works for some time, the Jets’ 2023 draft strategy remains unchanged. Here’s a snapshot of what they need and a few potential targets:

2023 draft picks: Nos. 15, 43, 112, 143, 170  

Team needs: OL, DL, LB, Safety 

New York was a quarterback away from making the playoffs last season, and now that it has a competent signal-caller, there aren’t many holes to fill. The offensive line stands out as a unit that needs improving, and with the 39-year-old Rodgers coming to town, it’s imperative to protect him. 

The offensive line is rife with uncertainties, ranging from health issues for OTs Mekhi Becton and Max Mitchell to OG/T Alijah Vera-Tucker.

Several tackle prospects project to be selected in the first round, and at least one should be available at 15. However, if it’s not the prospect GM Joe Douglas prefers, perhaps he trades back, recoups some draft capital and adds depth elsewhere.  

While a defense that allowed the fourth-fewest points per game and recorded the seventh-most sacks last season doesn’t need significant upgrades, New York could use a safety. However, this year’s class is underwhelming, and ESPN’s Todd McShay believes there won’t be one drafted in the first round.

Regardless, the Jets must explore their options since starters Jordan Whitehead and Chuck Clark will be free agents after the season. The two have similar play styles, so while they may be playing alongside each other now, they could be battling one another for a 2024 contract. 

Douglas could bolster other position groups, such as on the defensive line — whether an edge-rusher or a defensive tackle to complement All-Pro Quinnen Williams — and at linebacker.

Potential Day 1 targets: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee; Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia; O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida

The Jets are likely out of range for Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. and Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski, leaving Wright and Jones as possible options. Both were named First-Team All-SEC selections by the Associated Press last season. 

If New York does decide to trade back, Torrence, another All-SEC First-Teamer, would be a prime target. Torrence didn’t allow a sack during his college career and could immediately compete with Laken Tomlinson, Pro Football Focus’ 58th-highest-graded guard last season (56.8), for a starting job. 

Potential Day 2 targets:  BJ Ojulari, DE, LSU; Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State 

New York has been interested in Ojulari and Henley, hosting both on top 30 visits. Ojulari recorded a career-high nine sacks and 14 QB hits in 11 games last season and is just scratching the surface of his capabilities.

Henley, a Nevada transfer, was a First-Team All-Pac-12 honoree at linebacker and earned Second-Team All-Conference recognition on special teams. He recorded 106 tackles, 12 for loss, four sacks and three forced fumbles last season. Since the Jets don’t have a pressing need for a starting linebacker, Henley could be a valuable addition as a special teamer while he develops. 

Potential Day 3 targets: Chandler Zavala, OG, NC State; Jason Taylor II, Safety, Oklahoma State 

Before last season, Zavala, who began his career at Fairmont State, was granted a sixth year of eligibility and established himself as the ACC’s top draft-eligible guard. If New York lands the 6-foot-3, 322-pounder on Day 3, he’d be a steal. Matt Miller of ESPN graded him as a third-round pick.  

At the pro level, Taylor will likely contribute on special teams, but once he became a full-time starter in 2021, he showed he could be an impact player. Last season, he led the Big 12 in interceptions (six) and was second in passes defended (13).

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Publish Date:2023-04-27 06:14:57

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