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DraftNerds: 2023 New York Jets Seven-Round Mock Draft

It's mock draft season! @DanT_NFL continues our #DraftNerds series with a full 7 round New York Jets mock draft. #TakeFlight

Dynasty fantasy football is a year-round affair. A sharp manager will be thinking about all aspects of the dynasty season. Those managers who are keen enough to look ahead will be the ones that can grab themselves an edge over the competition. A large portion of the dynasty off-season will be spent discussing incoming rookies and the related topic, the NFL draft. It is easy for us to fall in love with the next workhorse running back or prototypical alpha wide receiver, but a manager that is in tune with the entire draft class will find themselves ahead of the game. Whether it is the next road-paving interior offensive lineman or genetic freak edge rusher, we can find ourselves at quite the advantage come April by building an entire picture of how the 2023 class will play out. Those that prepare ahead will not be often surprised at the outcomes.

Credit for the mock draft simulation goes to ProFootballFocus. Team needs are also generated from this site. Compensatory picks have not been assigned and are not included in this exercise.

2022 Season Recap

This season was disappointing for the Jets fanbase but provides hope for the future. The 2022 rookie class looks impressive. Cornerback Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner is already one of the best at his position in the league. Fellow first-rounder Garrett Wilson, the wide receiver from Ohio State, is also already returning on his draft investment. Rookie running back Breece Hall had a promising start to his season before missing the rest of the year with an ACL injury. Fans are looking forward to him, and starting left tackle Mekhi Becton returning for 2023.

After reading that review, most think the future is bright and sunny for Gang Green. However, the most significant question mark on the roster may be on the most crucial part of the roster. Quarterback Zach Wilson has shown no growth in his second season and still ranks at the bottom of the league in most counting stats and efficiency metrics. Worse, the young quarterback has already lost the locker room. Between the inability to take responsibility for losses to accusations of not working hard, it is no surprise that teammates were cheering for the return of Mike White.

2023 Free Agent Departures

The New York Jets have several starters that could depart in the 2023 offseason. Every player mentioned here could re-sign to remain a Jet in 2023 and onwards. The offensive line will lose both right tackle George Fant and center Connor McGovern. Fant was dealing with a knee injury all season and missed Week 18. His medical evaluation will play a big part in his next contract, but losing two starters along the offensive line will be something Joe Douglas must address in the next few months. 

It is also important to note that the quarterback room will lose two players this off-season. Veterans Joe Flacco and Mike White will enter free agency, leaving Wilson as the lone quarterback on the roster. Chris Streveler is listed as a quarterback but is a converted tight-end and can’t be a realistic option in 2023. Regardless of how Wilson pans out, the Jets will add at least one quarterback to this room for 2023 and beyond. 

1.13 – Paris Johnson Jr, T Ohio State

Many in the draft community have Johnson in their top three offensive linemen on 2023 big boards. The Jets are fortunate enough to have the Ohio State tackle fall to them at the thirteenth overall pick. Johnson was a two-year starter spending 2021 as a right guard and 2022 as a left tackle. Throughout his over 1,400 career snaps, he only allowed a single sack. That is a feat only a few linemen have accomplished. Measuring 6’6” and 310 pounds, Johnson is a monster of a man who can pair his size with extreme athleticism. Johnson would be an immediate day-one starter.

The question remains: How would Johnson fit into this offensive line. Besides left tackle, the only other position he has played is right guard. Fortunately for the Jets, Mekhi Becton played both right and left tackle in his time at Louisville. The Jets could slide Paris Johnson at left tackle, and Becton would take over for free agent George Fant at right tackle. Suddenly, this line looks excellent, and we aren’t done fixing it yet.

2.43 – John Michael Schmitz, C Minnesota

Joe Douglas again addresses the offensive line at the top of the second round. Schmitz was a four-year starter at Minnesota and prolific in his time under center. He has all the size for a starting NFL center; he is 6’4” and 320 pounds. He can slot in right away as a starting center for the Jets. How the Jets want to move forward with the center position will be interesting; this selection gives them flexibility. McGovern will be 30 by the season start; the Jets could potentially bring him back on a one-year deal. If no value can be found in the contract, they could let Schmitz serve as the week one starter. 

3.74 – Rashee Rice, WR SMU

Rice was a prolific wide receiver at SMU; he broke Emmanuel Sanders’ receiving record before he graduated. He is big-bodied, measuring in at 6’2” and 203 pounds which puts him on the larger side for a historically small wide receiver class. The hope with this pick is that Rice can serve as the Corey Davis replacement. Davis can be a cap casualty for $10 million in cap savings with all but guarantees he won’t be on this roster for training camp.

Rice is not a polished prospect and can use some refinement before contributing to his NFL offense. His route tree could be expanded, which should be easy to work on now that he is a full-time college football player. Rice had a poor showing at the Senior Bowl, but it was a tough week considering the level of quarterback and cornerback play he saw. He is currently my WR10 in this class and barring someone being taken with extremely early draft capital, Rice would remain here with this landing spot. Do not expect too much from him in year one, but he will be a great buy before his sophomore season as a Jet.

4.112 – Tyjae Spears, RB Tulane

Douglas continues to add to the offensive side of the ball with the selection of Tulane running back Spears in the fourth round. He has been a hot riser after his impressive performance at the Senior Bowl, and this may be too late to grab him. However, if Spears were here in the fourth, he would be an excellent selection for the New York Jets and could contribute immediately.

Hall suffered an ACL injury last season; he is still recovering. He is not guaranteed to be ready for Week One, and Spears could quickly start the season as RB1 on the depth chart. Spears himself has dealt with an ACL injury. He fully rehabbed from one suffered in 2020 and could make a great mentor for Hall as he deals with the recovery process. Spears would be an exciting value in rookie drafts. Landing behind Hall would dampen his value, but he would be the starter for several weeks before Hall returned. Even once Hall returns, Spears is a high-value handcuff and will be a great value in the second round of rookie drafts.

5.145 – Henry To’oTo’o, LB Alabama

Douglas finally addresses the defensive side of football in the fifth round. To’o T’o is a speedy, versatile linebacker who led the Alabama defense in tackles. His high football IQ and athleticism make him an effective weapon when dropped back in coverage, but his most significant drawback is his size. At 6’2” and 228 pounds, To’o To’o is easily moved off his position when trying to defend the run. Taking elite athletes late is a great draft strategy, and the right coaching staff can find an effective way to use Henry. 

6.179 – Darius Rush, CB South Carolina

Rush is a tall, lanky, and athletic corner from the University of South Carolina. The perfect prospect to take in the sixth round or later of the NFL draft. Rush was a Senior Bowl standout who elevated his draft stock, perhaps to a point where this pick isn’t possible. A team can never have enough corner depth, and Rush can spend time learning the craft from some of the best in the league.

6.185 – Clayton Tune, QB Houston

With their final selection of the 2023 NFL draft, the New York Jets grab themselves a backup quarterback. Tune is your old-school big-bodied, and big-armed quarterback. He is 6’3” and 210 pounds and will be a durable backup if ever called upon. The quarterback situation in New York is up in the air. Whether it is Wilson or someone else, a backup quarterback will be needed.

Tune may not be more than a spot start here or there during his NFL career. For dynasty purposes, he will only be relevant in deeper Superflex leagues. He will be injury insurance for whoever is starting in New York, but depending on your roster, you may be better off with a bottom-five starter as your QB3 or QB4 on a dynasty squad. Tune will most likely go undrafted in rookie drafts or in round five for leagues that run rookie drafts that deep.

2023 Fantasy Impact

The fantasy implications for the New York Jets begin and end with the quarterback position. Rumors are swirling with names like Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, and Jimmy Garrapollo being linked to the Jets. Wilson will not be the week one starter, which will be a significant upgrade for this offense. Improvements along the offensive line will also provide a boost to both the rushing and passing attack.

Key Rookies

Rice and Spears are the key players in this mock regarding our dynasty rookie drafts. This will be a great landing spot for Rashee Rice. Assuming there is an upgrade at quarterback for longer than one season. He may take a year or more to catch on, but he will be a solid PPR option to the tail end of his second year and into year three. An interesting strategy to consider is perhaps fading him in rookie drafts and buying him low after a subpar rookie campaign.

The landing spot for Spears is an intriguing one. I love him as a prospect, but being paired with Hall throughout his rookie contract is less than ideal. Spears will return fantasy value early, as he would likely start the first few weeks of the season. However, once Hall returns from his injury, Spears will be relegated to a backup role as a high-level handcuff. He would make an excellent pick for a contender. He will provide immediate production in addition to depth should anything happen to Hall. 

It’s mock draft season! Want exclusive access to my rookie rankings and those of over twenty fellow analysts? Subscribe to the #NerdHerd, where you get exclusive content, dynasty/rookie rankings, and DynastyGM! If you want 15% off  ANY SUBSCRIPTION, USE PROMO CODE “LUNA” or CLICK HERE.

I hope you enjoyed this piece in our Offseason Primer series. Be sure to check back often, as I will cover all fantasy-relevant positions. For more content like this, follow me on Twitter @DanT_NFL. DMs are always open for questions, comments, or craft beer recommendations!

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