There’s a consensus on what the worst-case draft scenario would be for the New York Jets
Coming into the 2023 offseason, the offensive tackle position was widely considered to be the New York Jets‘ greatest need outside of quarterback. But as we sit here on April 23, just four days away from the NFL draft, the Jets still have not made a single noteworthy addition at the tackle position.
Because of the Jets’ ignorance of the tackle position so far, most writers and fans agree the Jets are likely to select a tackle with the 13th overall pick in the first round of the draft. It is a strong tackle class and there is a high likelihood of the Jets having one of the best tackle prospects on the board for them when they come onto the clock at No. 13.
The consensus top three tackle prospects are as follows: Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State), Peter Skoronski (Northwestern), and Broderick Jones (Georgia). Each prospect ranks in the top 20 on Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board, which compiles data from 150 big boards around the internet. Johnson is the No. 10 overall prospect, Skoronski is No. 12, and Jones is No. 18.
New York should be able to get one of these guys with the 13th overall pick – but it’s not a guarantee.
In Mock Draft Database’s consensus mock draft, Johnson is the favorite to be drafted by Chicago at No. 9 while Skoronski is the favorite to be drafted by Philadelphia at No. 10.
And while Jones is the favorite to be drafted by New York at No. 13, it’s far from a lock that he will be available. Tennessee is considered a strong candidate to select a tackle at No. 11. Quarterback is also on the table for the Titans, but the top quarterbacks might be gone before Tennessee is on the clock, which would push them toward a tackle. And if two tackles have already been taken by the time Tennessee comes up, the Titans might just scoop up the last available tackle out of the consensus top three options.
There is a real scenario where the Jets come on the clock at No. 13 with Paris Johnson Jr., Peter Skoronski, and Broderick Jones all off the board. Some might consider this a worst-case scenario for New York.
What would the Jets do then?
Here are some plausible options for the Jets if they encounter this scenario on Thursday night.
1. Draft Darnell Wright
Tennessee tackle Darnell Wright has seen his stock rise throughout the past few months and is generally considered to be the fourth-best tackle prospect. He is the No. 23 overall prospect on Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board, ranking him fourth among tackles and just a hair outside of the position’s top tier.
However, Wright is not so far down the board to the point where he does not have his believers. There are many people in the draft community, including Jets X-Factor’s Andrew Golden, who adore Wright’s game and view him on the same level (or higher) as Johnson, Skoronski, and Jones.
If the Jets are one of those believers, they could end up taking Wright here. It would be viewed as a reach by some, but NFL teams’ boards often differ greatly from the consensus of the outside world. Wright could absolutely be seen by the Jets’ scouts and coaches as a prospect worthy of taking with the 13th overall pick.
In that case, it’s a no-brainer to take Wright here if the other three tackles are gone. We shouldn’t even rule out the possibility of New York drafting Wright over one of the top three tackles if one of them is available alongside him at No. 13. Nobody knows what the Jets’ draft board looks like except for the Jets themselves.
2. Trade down, take a tackle later in the first round
Just as the Jets could like Wright more than the consensus, it’s also possible that they like him equally as the consensus or possibly even less than the consensus. In these cases, the Jets would probably view him as a reach with the No. 13 pick.
But if they still desperately want a tackle and are willing to take one with a lower first-round pick, the Jets could seek to trade down into a sweet spot of the first round where they can still get a tackle while adding some extra picks in the process.
Oklahoma tackle Anton Harrison should also be considered a potential late-first-round option alongside Wright. Harrison is the No. 32 prospect on Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board. You can also throw in Ohio State’s Dawand Jones, who is ranked No. 41 but has a polarizing profile that could draw some teams into viewing him as a first-round prospect.
If the Jets are dead-set on taking a tackle in the first round and would be comfortable with any of Wright, Harrison, or Jones in the latter half of the first round, they could seek a trade partner in the late teens or early twenties with the intention of taking their favorite tackle available when they are on the clock.
Perhaps a team like the Buccaneers (No. 19) or Vikings (No. 23) could seek to climb the board for a slipping quarterback. The 13th pick is also a sweet spot for a WR-needy team to come up before the run on receivers is expected to begin – perhaps the Chargers (No. 21), Ravens (No. 22), or Giants (No. 25) will be eager to climb.
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3. Take the BPA at a different position, draft OT later (either R2 or trade up into R1)
The Jets could hang tight at No. 13 and select the best player available on their board even if that player is not a tackle, staying true to the BPA mentality that Joe Douglas has typically adhered to throughout his tenure with the Jets. If three tackles are already gone by No. 13, it probably means that an intriguing prospect at another position has slipped down the board.
Wide receiver is one direction the Jets could go, with Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba, USC’s Jordan Addison, and TCU’s Quentin Johnson being potential options. They could also take a defensive tackle; there is an outside chance that consensus top-five prospect Jalen Carter slips, while Pittsburgh’s Calijah Kancey is a fast-rising prospect who could be taken earlier than expected.
If the Jets select a non-tackle at No. 13, they could pivot to drafting a tackle in the second round. Dawand Jones could be an excellent option at No. 42 or No. 43, as we broke down previously.
The problem with this scenario is that the early part of the second round doesn’t look like it will be an ideal spot to target a tackle. After Dawand Jones, there is a huge drop-off in the tackle rankings. The next tackle on Mock Draft Database’s big board is Syracuse’s Matthew Bergeron, all the way down at No. 64. After Bergeron, it’s Maryland’s Jaelyn Duncan at No. 88.
With that large of a gap, it seems unlikely that any NFL team would like Bergeron or another prospect that much more than the consensus to take them all the way up in the early forties (although it is possible). So, if Dawand Jones doesn’t make it to the Jets’ second-round pick, they would be out of luck – unless they want to make a major reach or if they surprisingly have a lower-ranked tackle prospect like Bergeron substantially higher on their board than the consensus.
Another option could be to trade up into the late first round. This would only be possible if the Aaron Rodgers trade does not happen prior to or during the draft, meaning the Jets would have both of their second-round picks to work with. In that case, the Jets would have enough ammo to facilitate a trade-up into the late first round for Darnell Wright, Anton Harrison, or Dawand Jones.
4. Trade up to ensure a tackle
Lastly, the Jets could prevent this worst-case scenario from happening in the first place by trading up from the 13th pick. If the Jets are absolutely hellbent on getting one of their top-ranked tackle prospects in the early part of the first round, they could be willing to cough up some assets so they can seize their own destiny and ensure they aren’t left empty-handed at No. 13.
Unless you are a team at the very top of the draft, it is difficult to project how things will play out before the draft begins, so I don’t see the Jets trading up prior to the draft. They might not have to move up to get their guy. But once the draft begins, if the Jets see the board falling in a way where they believe the top tackles will be gone before No. 13, they could decide to get on the phone and make a move.
This isn’t a likely possibility, but it’s worth mentioning. The Jets badly needed help at this position coming into the offseason and they have not done a single thing to improve the unit over the past two months. If the Jets allow the top tackle prospects to pass them by, they will be in dire straits at tackle. New York can certainly be considered at least somewhat desperate at this position, so I wouldn’t rule out a trade-up to avoid leaving this crucial need up to luck.
Allow me to push back, ever so slightly, on this topic and thought process going into the draft on Thursday.
It is a strong tackle class and there is a high likelihood of the Jets having one of the best tackle prospects on the board?
Below is what I found on Walter Football about their potential in the NFL:
P. Johnson – With his skill set and upside, he could be a good starting left tackle early in his NFL career.
P. Skoronski – He has very short arms, like 32 inches, he plays with better length than he has, but he doesn’t have a tackle body and looks more like a guard.
B. Jones – He was a solid tackle for Georgia, but he might be a better fit at guard in the NFL.
D. Wright – Wright was Tennessee’s starting right tackle in 2022. Wright has good size to him and has some strength as a run blocker.
(Note: At 6’5″, 333lbs, Darnell ran the same 40 (5.01) as Becton, who was 6’7″, 364lbs at the combine.)
A. Harrison – Team sources say he has potential because he is quick, athletic, and has good size. However, they say he is too finesse, not tough and not physical.
D. Jones – He is only a right tackle for the NFL. As a pro, he should drop some weight (374lbs) to improve his movement and stamina.
In addition, all but one tackle that you mentioned in this article will be 22 years old before their first NFL game (A. Harrison turns 22 after week 6). Matthew Bergeron, Jaelyn Duncan, Tyler Steen, and Blake Freeland will all be 23 before the season starts.
The 2020 draft also had a strong tackle class with five tackles being selected in the top 18 picks.
Wirfs (24) & Thomas (24) were chosen to the 2022 NFC All Pro 2nd team at right & left tackle respectively, and Wills Jr. was a 2022 AFC Pro Bowl alternate at tackle.
Jedrick Wills Jr. (23) has dealt with inconsistent play early in his career, and acknowledged that he didn’t finish plays in 2021 because he was protecting an injured ankle.
Mechi (24) showed signs his rookie season, but has faced injuries the past two years. After dropping close to 50lbs this offseason, he may have an opportunity to show what he can do, as a starting left tackle, provided he can remain healthy.
Austin Jackson (24) – In his first two seasons, he has 15 starts at left tackle & 13 starts at left guard. In 2022, he started 2 games at right tackle before injuries derailed his season. He is currently projected to be the Dolphins starting right tackle in 2023.
Which player in the 2023 draft has the potential to be a pro bowler/all-pro tackle before their fourth season, provided they can stay healthy?
Is there a chance of any becoming a guard, and never emerging as a top tackle in the NFL?
(Note: Tristin Wirfs was the only 2020 tackle prospect who was projected as a potential all-pro guard in the NFL.)
The Jets badly needed help at this position coming into the offseason and they have not done a single thing to improve the unit over the past two months.
What should’ve Joe Douglas done, as Duane Brown committed to playing in 2023, and Mechi Becton should be healthy come training camp.
I looked at the starting and back up left tackles in the AFC East.
Terron Armstead (32) is a 4X pro-bowler, including in 2022, and AP2 (2018), and seems to be the best of the bunch.
Dion Dawkins (30) was a 2022 pro-bowl replacement, and Trent Brown (30) was a 2019 pro-bowler at right tackle (Raiders).
All three are 30+ heading into the 2023 season.
Mechi Becton (24) is the coming off 2 seasons of injury, and needs to prove he can stay healthy, as production was not an issue based on his rookie performance.
Duane Brown (38) is a 7X pro-bowler, 2X AP2, 1X AP1, which includes 2021 pro-bowl selection as a left tackle (Seahawks), and AP2 (2018).
It appears that Joe Douglas made a point to have an older, but starter ready back-up on the roster, in the event that Mechi somehow can not make it through a third straight season. He looks like the best back-up left tackle in the AFC East.
So, I believe that Joe has his left tackle position spoken for, and does not need to draft someone this year early.
Depending on how this year plays out, then maybe he will need to make a decision next off season.
We may not see this the same way, but no one has a crystal ball, so we’re all just making guesses on the future.
“Because of the Jets’ ignorance of the tackle position so far,…”
I think you meant “ignoring”.
I have a feeling swapping 13 for 15 is part of the Rogers trade, in which case it would make sense to hold off until draft day to make it happen so other teams don’t know who’s picking in either spot. If that’s the case I would take the OT later.
Maybe the Rogers deal looks something like: swap 13 & 15, a second this year, and conditional 1st next year if Rogers plays a second season.
Would you consider a fifth option?
5. Take a developmental tackle on day three, sign Cameron Fleming for depth
I’m thinking Tyler Steen, for instance.
I like that move Matt, as you know I don’t LOVE this tackle group and I’m all for passing on one early. I also think AVT’s versatility to play RT gives them a bit of insurance. I like Freeland, and Bergeron.