The New York Jets wanted to continue to build their team through the trenches and ended up securing one of the most productive edge rushers on night one of the 2023 NFL Draft.
When Will McDonald IV was at Iowa State through his college career, his unique blend of size, speed, and athleticism allowed him to excel with the Cyclones. It wasn’t until research into some of the current NFL greats that the 23-year-old realized his full potential.
“I was just watching NFL players and then just kind of mixing it in with my kind of style of play, watching Von Miller, Aaron Donald, Frank Clark, Maxx Crosby, watching all of them and replicating everything and then just kind of putting my own sauce on it and just working every day after practice finally paid off,” McDonald said after being selected by New York 15th overall.
First-round picks are always hard to gauge on the night of. New York had been looking for an offensive lineman and almost seemed to get Broderick Jones before the Pittsburgh Steelers traded past them to select the Georgia standout.
That doesn’t mean McDonald wasn’t a proven commodity at 15 for the Jets though.
“We were going through a number of different scenarios, throughout the top 15 picks, but ultimately, we followed the board, let the board come to us and we’re very excited to add Will to the team to a very, very deep and explosive pass-rushing unit,” Jets general manager Joe Douglas explained afterward.
McDonald now joins a defensive line full of solid edge rushers like John Franklin-Myers, Carl Lawson, Jermaine Johnson, and Michael Clemons. With a First-Team All-Pro defensive tackle in Quinnen Williams also at the team’s disposal, the Jets pose one of the more dominant threats to opposing quarterbacks in the league.
But a journey to the NFL is rarely as smooth as prospects want it to be. McDonald will now go up against some of the best offensive linemen in the world while competing for snaps in a defense that doesn’t have many to give. Having other players on the roster that went to his same college though should help a lot.
And that’s exactly what the Jets did with having Breece Hall and Allen Lazard on the roster.
“I definitely can say Breece has taught me a lot, definitely helped me develop into the man I am today. It was just an honor. I’m back to being around my homies and so it’s a real good experience,” McDonald added.
Pass rushers are always a position of value and need for organizations across the NFL. Joe Douglas and the Jets grabbing arguably one of the more productive ones in this draft only shows that the team is committed to building the team the right way.
Now it’ll be up to Will McDonald to show that the team was right in drafting him.
“I don’t think I have a ceiling. I just want to keep rising. I want to keep improving one percent every day and do whatever I can.”
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