What would I do? A 2023 Jets mock draft

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By: IMissFatRex

Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL draft is quickly approaching. Player selection will be made on that night that change the courses of just about every franchise in the league, so, understandably, it’s viewed as a big night. As teams prepare for the draft, thousands of cumulative man hours will be spent to determine who a team takes… I, however, will try to replicate this process for this article based on one person (me), a laptop with internet access, and a one run simulation of the NFL draft using The Draft Network to tell you who I would take.

Before I dive into who I took, why, and who else was available, I want to be very upfront that I value players differently than a lot of others do. Specifically, I tend to err on the side of drafting for upside (hence my well documented love for Florida QB Anthony Richardson). I value athleticism and elite traits, and I’m willing to overlook warts or deficiencies in a guy’s game if I think they can be coached away or minimized via scheme. I also tend to ignore so-called “Red Flags” if I think they mostly amount to “Guy acknowledged that he wasn’t being paid to play NCAA football and made business decisions based on that” because, honestly, I get that.

Without further ado, here is my one-run simulation of the 2023 NFL Draft and what I’d do in a draft where the Jets made every pick they currently own. Shoutout to The Draft Network for their mock draft machine that was used for the creation of this article.

Round 1, Pick 13: Ohio State Wide Receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Who else was available?

  • Tyree Wilson (edge, Texas Tech)
  • Bijan Robinson (running back, Texas)
  • Brian Breese (defensive tackle, Clemson)
  • Quinton Johnson (wide receiver, TCU)

Why Jaxon?

Because I’m a big believer in letting history inform decisions. We just watched multiple offenses (Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins) add a top-tier wide receiver to pair with another top-tier wide receiver and turn their offense from “meh” to “wow, they might be able to outscore the Kansas City Chiefs.”

On top of that, we watched recent OSU wide receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson get drafted last year and have 1000 yard seasons despite catching passes from a who’s who of bad quarterbacks. On top of that, they both would tell you Jaxon was better than they were when all three were at OSU and… uh… while we’re on what other guys think of him… he was a major reason that Alabama’s Heisman nominated wide receiver Jameson Williams transferred away from OSU. Dude’s good and everyone that’s played alongside him will tell you as much. He’s also a super athlete (who compares well to Ceedee Lamb) and I love to draft super athletes. Note, I recognize that his 40 left some to be desired, but I don’t think he’s ever going to be a burner and I don’t think that necessarily matters given his short yard quickness and how good of a route runner he is.

But, hey, none of that has actually talked about what he does on the field. So what has Jaxon actually done? Well, we’re talking about a guy who broke out at age 19.6 (that’s 75th percentile by the way) to the tune of 1600 yards despite having to contend for targets with two first round picks that were clearly NFL ready… and then he immediately had a 347 yard, 3 touchdown game once they were gone. If he’d played this season then he wouldn’t be available here and it’s really that simple. Is he risky? Sure. Is he worth that risk? I’d argue very strongly that the answer is “yes” because you’re talking upside greater than Garrett Wilson who we all know is really, really, really good. And, hey, if you don’t believe me then just ask Garrett Wilson for his thoughts on the matter.

Round 2, pick 43: Bijan Robinson (running back, Texas)

Round 2, pick 44: Cody Mauch (offensive tackle, North Dakota State)

Who else was available?

  • Brian Branch (safety, Alabama)
  • Jahmyr Gibbs (running back, Alabama)
  • Drew Sanders (linebacker, Arkansas)
  • O’Cyrus Torrence (offensive guard, Florida)
  • Adetomiwa Adebawore (edge, Northwestern)

Why Bijan?

Because he had no business falling that far? I don’t think he’ll be here, but if he was then you run the pick up. Maybe he’ll have a Laremy Tunsil draft night incident or something that sends him plummeting beyond where he should. Stranger things have happened I guess, but it happened in my one sample run and I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.

With all that said, some of you might be surprised that I, a noted “running backs don’t matter” truther, would take a running back this high. So yea, let’s get that out of the way: would I typically advocate for spending a second second round pick in two years on a running back? Absolutely not. So why am I doing it? Because we’re in a Super Bowl window with Aaron Rodgers, because Bijan could have the largest day 1 impact in this draft, and because data suggests that Breece Hall will be a lesser version of himself this year as he recovers from his injury. Given those situations, I’m willing to make an exception to my general rule.

Why Mauch?

Because he checks a few really big boxes for me. One, all he’s done in college is perform at a high level regardless of what he’s asked to do. Two, he’s a certified super athlete at tackle and an even better one at guard. Three, he’s a three-cone and shuttle drill superstar and we know that predicts offensive line performance very well. In an ideal world everyone stays healthy and he gets to sit this year. In a less than ideal world (one that probably comes to fruition) I think he can play guard or tackle in year 1. Would a great center have been a nice add? Sure. But I don’t want to pass up potentially elite players at high value positions to patch a short term hole at a low value position. We’ll address center in free agency. It’ll be fine

Round 4, pick 113: Daiyan Henley (inside linebacker, Washington State)

Who else was available?

  • Demarion Overshown (linebacker, Texas)
  • Noah Sewell (linebacker, Oregon)
  • Darius Rush (cornerback, South Carolina)
  • Tanner McKee (quarterback, Stanford)
  • Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (cornerback, TCU)

Why Daiyan ?

Like I said from the onset, I value elite traits and Diayan has elite traits so I’m taking him. Specifically, he has three elite traits that I value very much in a modern linebacker. One, he’s a super athlete (sans size, which I’ll talk about in a second) and it shows on tape. Two, he’s considered an elite coverage linebacker and it’s a passing league. Three, he’s considered an elite tackler and I hate missed tackles. At this point you may be asking “so what’s holding him back?” Well, size, which can’t really change. However, in Saleh’s defense I value size a bit less in a linebacker than I would otherwise, especially when he isn’t all that much smaller than C.J. Mosley (who Saleh loves) even if he is a bit shorter. Ideally, I’d let him sit for a year or play in a pass coverage sub role while he puts on a few pounds and continues to develop at the position given that he’s only been playing it full time for three years. When Quincy or Mosley are gone then he’d slide into a full-time role. Overall, this is what I’d call a big swing with significant risk, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take within this defensive scheme.

Round 5, pick 145: Parker Washington (wide receiver, Penn State)

Who else was available?

  • Tanner McKee (quarterback, Stanford)
  • Jake Haener (quarterback, Fresno State)
  • Andrei Iosivas (wide receiver, Princeton)
  • Elijah Higgins (wide receiver, Stanford)
  • Olusegun Oluwatimi (center, Michigan)

Why Parker?

Back during the 2015 draft season I fell in love with a productive, undersized, scrappy wide receiver with injury problems. I remember him being mocked as a day 3 guy and I actually went ahead and put him in my AGOP in like round 3 because I really believed in him. Why’d I feel that strongly about him you ask? Because the entire time I watched him I kept saying to myself “If he stays healthy then I think he’s going to be a legitimate #2 or better” because he just POPPED on tape. That receiver wound up being Stefon Diggs and he now haunts us twice a year. Watching Parker Washington, I found myself saying the same things and I’d really like to be the haunter rather than the haunted this time around. Beyond that, this time I have data to back it up, which only further emboldens my draft crush on Parker Washington:

  • He broke out at 18.5 years old. For those keeping track at home, that’s 96th percentile
  • His in-game athleticism is 98th percentile
  • His average yards of separation is 84th percentile
  • His contested catch rate comes in at 71.4%, which is 2nd in this draft class
  • He led the NCAA with a 26.1 broken rate

Dude is good. He might be viewed as overdraft at this spot on draft day but I don’t think it’ll be viewed that way down the road.

Round 6, pick 209: Hunter Luepke (fullback, North Dakota State)

Who else was available?

  • Jakorian Bennett (cornerback, Maryland)
  • Riley Moss (cornerback, Iowa)
  • DJ Johnson (edge, Oregon)
  • Robert Beal Jr. (edge, Georgia)
  • Charlie Jones (wide receiver, Purdue)

Why Hunter?

Like I said from the jump, I value guys differently than many others do. Personally, I love good fullbacks. I think a good fullback adds an interesting wrinkle to an offense and if Kyle Shanahan thinks having one is worthwhile then I think having one is worthwhile. With that said, let me introduce you to Hunter Luepke. First, dude follows my general draft trend; he’s a super athlete. Two, he can run the ball when asked, averaging 6.3 yards per attempt on 98 carries this year. Three, he can catch the ball when asked with 14 catches on 21 targets. Also of note, these weren’t exactly layup passes either as he was regularly sent down the field on routes as implied by his 14.0 yards per catch. Three, he’s considered a willing blocker and that matters A LOT for me for a fullback. As you might guess by the write-up to this point, he reminds me of San Francisco 49er Kyle Juszczyk who is an integral part of San Francisco’s high powered offense and who not only has 7 pro bowls to his name but also an NFL top 100 designation. I’d like to have the next Kyle Juszczyk and if I have to take him with a round 6 pick to make that happen then so be it. To maximize the value on this pick he’ll also play special teams and probably take some RB handoffs when injuries necessitate it.

So there you have it. That’s how I’d draft within this single simulation run. Let me know what you view as the good, the bad, and the ugly of this draft.

Originally posted on Gang Green Nation – All Posts

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