National Football League
Jets mock draft: New York lands Aaron Rodgers, OL and DL help and a sleeper QB
National Football League

Jets mock draft: New York lands Aaron Rodgers, OL and DL help and a sleeper QB

Updated Apr. 11, 2023 11:51 a.m. ET

The New York Jets have three selections in the top 50 picks of the 2023 NFL Draft, including the 13th overall selection. That draft capital gives plenty of power to general manager Joe Douglas, who seems to be coming off a terrific result in last year’s draft. And he needs that draft class to continue to look good, because the Zach Wilson pick in 2021 still looms large over Douglas’ reputation.

As I dive into this mock draft, my goals are two-fold. First, I want to land quarterback Aaron Rodgers. That’s a high-priority assignment. The Rodgers trade — or the lack thereof — is holding up the roster-building process. And second, I want to make sure to build a roster that can win games past Rodgers’ retirement, whether that comes in 2024 or 2025.

So let’s land our quarterback. And let’s not lose sight of the future, when the Jets need to stay relevant in a competitive AFC East. Ready? Away we go.

Round 1: Trade for Aaron Rodgers


Green Bay badly wants a first-round pick. New York doesn’t want to give one up for Rodgers. So let’s do something a little snarky. Let’s get as much value out of this pick as possible by trading down — while also still keeping it in the first round. The Jets get to go to the change machine with their first-rounder while getting Rodgers. And the Packers get their first-rounder. 

The fun starts with an offer from the Ravens.

Jets get:
22nd overall
2024 Baltimore first-rounder
2024 Baltimore second-rounder

Ravens get:
13th overall
112th overall

Oh, but I’m not done. Buffalo called. I’m trading down again.

Jets get: 
27th overall
59th overall

Bills get:
22nd overall

And now what will I do? Well, as promised, I’m going to trade a first-round pick (No. 27 overall) for Rodgers. So on Day 1, the Jets will have acquired: a Ravens first- and second-rounder, a Bills second-rounder and a future Hall of Fame quarterback.

All in a day’s work.

Whose side are you on?

Packers GM Brian Gutekunst claims he tried to contact Aaron Rodgers many times in January about the team's offseason plans but could not reach him. Emmanuel Acho, Joy Taylor and LeSean McCoy decide whether they side with the Packers or Rodgers in this drama.

Round 2, Pick 42 (from Cleveland): John Michael Schmitz, center, Minnesota

At this point, there is really only one tackle left on the board worth consideration: Maryland's Jaelyn Duncan. I just don't think he projects to start at tackle in Year 1. And tackle isn't the only place where the Jets have problems on the offensive line. 

So let's target a center — and a Day 1 starter. Schmitz is big, fast, strong and athletic. He has played in a zone scheme offense, which is what new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is going to run. Schmitz made calls for Minnesota's offensive line in college. I suspect he will quickly learn to do the same for New York. It's simply an ideal match.

Round 2, Pick 43: Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida

New York saw defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins depart in free agency. The Jets managed to retain DT Solomon Thomas, but they can't account for the snaps they'll need to fill at the position alongside Quinnen Williams

Dexter might be a slight reach, if I'm being honest. But he has unique size (6-foot-6, 310) and athleticism to support the selection and projection of talent. Last season, the SEC DT logged 55 tackles, four TFLs, two sacks and an interception. He would immediately join New York's rotation on the interior. And perhaps he'll flourish under coach Robert Saleh like so many other defensive linemen have in the past.

Round 2, Pick 59: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, edge, Kansas State

I'm going to keep stacking talent on the defensive line for Saleh. New York is holding onto Carl Lawson for at least one more season, but Anudike-Uzomah could still be a Day 1 contributor as a rotational player. He's a physical freak at 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds and had 19.5 sacks the past two seasons. He won't contribute right away as a run defender, but with a little added bulk, he could work his way onto the field on early downs.

Round 5, Pick 143: Michael Wilson, WR, Stanford

Douglas can't stop adding receivers. So why not keep going? The Jets have Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman and Denzel Mims. They also have Corey Davis, but it seems likely he is a cap casualty. So let's introduce Wilson, who has some similarities to Lazard. 

Wilson didn't have a ton of production in college, given his battle with injuries, but he has impressed at events like the Senior Bowl. In 2022, he logged 26 catches for 418 yards in just six games. He has a big body (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) and is a capable run blocker. He projects to have some upside on New York's roster as Lazard's understudy.

Round 6, Pick 207 (from San Francisco through Houston): Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State

Don't count out the Jets trading Zach Wilson. Whether the trade comes during the draft or afterward, Wilson may end up as a backup on another roster. And because Rodgers won't need much in the way of coaching on Hackett's system (because Hackett and Rodgers worked together in Green Bay), the Jets can add a young QB like Haener for development. 

Naturally, the upside for a sixth-rounder like Haener is probably only as a backup. He's lacking in physical tools, but he's a smart quarterback. Maybe New York will find a guy who can stick.

Prior to joining FOX Sports as the AFC East reporter, Henry McKenna spent seven years covering the Patriots for USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Follow him on Twitter at @McKennAnalysis.

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