Jets, Giants Focus On Defense In Round 1 Of NFL Draft

New York area football teams, which were at least moderately successful last year, didn’t get a chance to take the glamorous top few spots in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday. Away from the spotlight, they both select defensive players they see can help an already solid core.

Everything the Jets did on draft day was accomplished the week before by a blockbuster trade for future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers. That acquisition led many predictors to believe that the Jets would seek offensive linemen to protect their new asset.

But selecting at No. 15 (two slots lower than originally assigned due to the pick swap in the Rodgers deal), the Jets went for Will McDonald IV, a fast-paced defensive end from Iowa State.

McDonald is a sack specialist who holds the Big 12 career record, and at 6-foot-4 and 239 pounds, is by all accounts a physical marvel. He enjoys jumping on cars, though he said he plans to stop the hobby now that he’s a pro.

McDonald is the first Iowa State player since 1973 to advance to the first round. The team was 4-8 last year, but won the Fiesta Bowl in the 2020 season.

McDonald joins Jets’ star defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, who had 12 sacks last season. The Jets ranked seventh in sacks last season, and if McDonald pans out, they could turn into one of the elite teams in that category. McDonald’s run defense is a big question mark.

“We’re not going to force anything,” said general manager Joe Douglas. “We will always let the board take its course and take the best player available.”

“We expect to have some double-digit leads late and have different waves of pass rushers to attack the offensive linemen,” he said.

The pick was announced not by commissioner Roger Goodell, but by 13-year-old Kyle Stickles, as part of a Make-A-Wish program. He said, “With the 15th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the New York Jets select the Jets Jets Jets…”

The Giants’ 9–7–1 record and playoff berth earned him the No. 25 pick, but a draft-day trade moved him up one spot to take Maryland’s cornerback Deonte Banks.

Banks suffered a shoulder injury that caused him to miss much of the 2021 season, but he will be back in 2022. Dozen Teams.

“He’s a prototype from a size standpoint,” said general manager Joe Schoen. “He’s athletic, he’s physical, he can run.”

The cornerback looked like an obvious need for the Giants on draft day. Banks will join a core led by Adoree Jackson, who is in the final year of his contract.

The Giants were said to be considering taking a wide receiver to replace Daniel Jones’ throwing. But wide receivers moved from No. 20 to 23 in all four slots, reducing the options there. There was even some scuttlebutt that despite the team signing Jones to a long-term deal, it would go for another quarterback.

“It may not be a popular first-round position, but the best player available,” Schon said of Banks’ selection.

Coach Brian Dabol said, “You can never have enough good corners.”