NY Jets select Israel Abanikanda with 143rd overall pick in NFL draft

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By: Michael Nania

New York Jets select back-to-back Pittsburgh Panthers to bolster offense

After selecting an offensive prospect from Pittsburgh in the fourth round (OT Carter Warren), the New York Jets doubled down in the fifth round, selecting Pittsburgh running back Israel Abanikanda at No. 143 overall.

Abanikanda, who is only 20 years old and will turn 21 in October, is a native of Brooklyn. He is coming off a breakout season for Pittsburgh in 2022, rushing 239 times for 1,431 yards and 20 touchdowns. Abanikanda also caught 12 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown.

Abanikanda stands at 5′ 10¾” and 216 pounds. He’s got long arms at 32″ (82nd percentile for RBs) but very small hands at 8¼” (2nd percentile for RBs). Abanikanda has an overall Relative Athletic Score of 9.66, spearheaded by a 41-inch vertical jump and a 108-inch broad jump.

The Jets add Abikanda to a running back room that is deep but does have its share of question marks. Breece Hall, Michael Carter, and Zonovan Knight comprise the rest of the unit.

Hall has superstar talent but is coming off an ACL injury. Carter showed great promise in his 2021 rookie season but took a step backward in his second season. Knight was an undrafted free agent in 2022. While he showed exciting potential near the end of his rookie season, it was a small sample and he must show more to prove he is the real deal.

With Abanikanda, the Jets have now spent three consecutive draft picks on offensive players after opening their draft class with edge rusher Will McDonald in the first round. New York selected Wisconsin center Joe Tippmann in the second round.

The Jets have two remaining picks: Nos. 170 (fifth round) and No. 184 (sixth round).

Next Article: NY Jets trade down with Patriots, select Carter Warren at No. 120 

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