NY Jets surprise the NFL world with selection of EDGE Will McDonald

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By: Michael Nania

The New York Jets make Iowa State EDGE Will McDonald their 2023 first-round selection

With the 15th overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft, the New York Jets have selected Iowa State edge rusher Will McDonald.

The Jets were left without a viable path to upgrading their offensive line, as the consensus top-four offensive tackle prospects had already gone off the board by the time New York came onto the clock at No. 15. The Steelers took the fourth of those, Georgia’s Broderick Jones, in the No. 14 slot after trading up for the pick, which was previously held by the Patriots. It turns out that the Jets’ pick swap with the Packers did indeed cost them an opportunity at one of the top tackle prospects, although it’s unclear whether the Jets would have liked Jones enough to select him.

Trading down was an option for New York, but the Jets decided to stay put and select McDonald. It was a surprising pick to fans and media members alike, as McDonald was generally not considered a candidate to be selected this early in the draft. On Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board, McDonald was ranked as the No. 33 overall prospect entering the draft.

There were some other intriguing options on the board for New York, the most notable of those being Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Pittsburgh defensive tackle Calijah Kancey and Georgia edge rusher Nolan Smith were among the other available players.

McDonald is a 6-foot-3⅝, 239-pound speedster who is known for his bendiness around the edge. He has tremendous explosiveness that will fit seamlessly in the Jets’ defensive scheme, showcased by his 132-inch broad jump (98th percentile for EDGE). McDonald also possesses outstanding length, with arms measuring 34⅞ inches (90th percentile for EDGE).

McDonald will turn 24 years old later this year. He played five years at Iowa State, recording 34 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, and 40.5 tackles for loss in his career. McDonald had a down year in 2022, posting only 5.0 sacks and one forced fumble after totaling 11.5 sacks and five forced fumbles in 2021.

McDonald joins a young and crowded Jets EDGE room that also features John Franklin-Myers, Carl Lawson, Jermaine Johnson (a first-round pick from 2022), Micheal Clemons, and Bryce Huff.

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