The Jets were one of the best storylines in the NFL for a sizable portion of the 2022 season, but woeful quarterback play morphed a 7-4 start into a 7-10 finish. With Garrett Wilson and Sauce Gardner having Rookie of The Year-type debut campaigns in the NFL and head coach Robert Saleh leading a super-stingy defense, the Jets are close to being real contenders.
And no "perfect draft scenario" for the Jets can be without some type of trade for a veteran quarterback, because it almost seems like a formality at this point, and given the state of the defense and the burgeoning group of offensive skill-position players -- most namely Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall -- it's the most sensible course of action for Gang Green.
Therefore, for the sake of this article, I'm sending Derek Carr to the Jets for New York's 2023 third-round pick and a conditional 2023 second that can become a first if Carr hits on a specific playtime and production parlay in his first season with Robert Saleh's team.
(I am not ruling out the Lamar Jackson possibility for the Jets, although at this point in time, it's nearly impossible to assume or evenly roughly predict what a trade-compensation package to acquire the quarterback would look like.)
Here's a 2023 NFL Draft projection for the AFC East squad:
For more extensive draft content, check out our latest prospect rankings and mock drafts, as well as our new weekly podcast, "With the First Pick," featuring former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman.
2023 NFL Draft
No. 13 overall: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
General manager Joe Douglas can't be too confident in the future availability of gargantuan, oft-injured left tackle Mekhi Becton. The 2020 first-round pick has played in just 15 games since his rookie campaign. Carr's arrival should signal to Douglas and Co. that the offensive line needs to continue to be prioritized. Duane Brown was a fine stand-in for Becton yet turns 38 in August.
Skoronski has some of the cleanest pass-protection reps you'll see from an offensive tackle prospect. Now, he managed that against mostly non-future NFL edge rushers in the Big 10, and he's not a freaky athlete. But high floor without a sky-high ceiling is not always a bad thing in Round 1 of the draft. Skoronski exemplifies the term "plug and play."
Round 2: Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State
Given the collective age of New York's linebacker unit and Kwon Alexander's status as a free agent, it would be wise for Douglas to invest in the future of the three-down position with an athletic, coverage type who can also get after the quarterback as a blitzer. That's precisely what Henley is, a rangy second-level defender who was very productive in college and is comfortable operating and reacting to offensive players in space.
Round 3: Sent to Raiders in Carr trade
Round 4: Brandon Joseph, S, Notre Dame
The Northwestern transfer wasn't overwhelmed in his lone season at Notre Dame. His bigger frame and aggressive style lend themselves well to how the Jets operate defensively. While not insanely productive, he was mostly deployed as a deep safety in 2022, which rounded out his experience at the position in college after spending most of his time close to the line with the Wildcats. Saleh would love his versatility.
Round 5: Xavier Hutchinson, WR, Iowa State
With Wilson and Elijah Moore, the Jets have two young, smaller, twitched-up pass-catching weapons. Corey Davis is still on the roster, but has never really met the expectations after his free-agent signing in 2021. Hutchinson would provide more size to the Jets receiver group and would be aligned to eventually overtake Davis on the perimeter. The 6-foot-3 Cyclones start upped his catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in all three of his seasons at Iowa State. While not overly sudden, he runs quality routes for his size.
Round 6: Jalen Redmond, DT, Oklahoma
The squatty but explosive Redmond won up and down the line for the Sooners but seemingly played a bit too frequently at nose tackle in 2022, thereby limiting his opportunities to simply rush up the field. Saleh loves front seven players on defense, and Redmond would be a fun developmental type on this strong Jets defensive line.