Grading the Jets’ 2023 draft class (One Year Later)

NFL: Preseason-New York Jets at Carolina Panthers
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The 2024 NFL Daft is almost here and it is a very exciting time when it comes to scouting. However, it is also a time when the 2023 NFL Daft class will enter their one-year anniversary in the NFL. So, during the hype up of draft time, it is time to reflect and see how the New York Jets prospects did during there 1st seasons in the league and grade them.

Now, keep in mind that if I grade any selection as a HACKENBERG, that means the grade is an F. This is a tribute to one of the worst draft choices in New York Jets history, as they drafted Christian Hackenberg, who is arguably the worst draft choice in New York Jets history.

If a pick is labeled as N/A, that means the pick is not available, and I won’t be giving a grade to the player.

So, let’s get into the grades…

1st Round, 15th Pick – DE/EDGE Will McDonald, Iowa State

NFL: Pro Football Hall of Fame-New York Jets at Cleveland Browns
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Half Season Grade: HACKENBERG
1 Year Grade: D

Many despised the pick when it was made, and many still hate it on this very day. This pick should have been on the offense as the Jets had plenty of players at the DE/EDGE rusher position. However the Jets used one on Will McDonald and in the short term it was an absolute waste. Time will tell if this pick will pan out in the long term, however McDonald did not have a great season.

McDonald did play this season, but he was mostly on special teams or in garbage time football. McDonald, at one point, became a healthy scratch for the team, which is never a good sign when a team uses a first-round pick on a player. The Jets finally decided to give an increased amount of snaps at the end of the season and finished with 14 tackles, 3 sacks, and even forced a fumble.

That alone prevented him from getting the HACKENBERG grade again, but I can’t grade this any more than a D for now. Hopefully, when looking back on this pick, McDonald will become a super-talented player for this team and play a lot more than he did. If he is utilized the same way the next season, then this will be an add to the argument of why Joe Douglas should be fired.

2nd Round, 43rd Pick – OG/C Joe Tippmann, Wisconsin

Half Season Grade: A-
1 Year Grade: A-

Joe Tippman is still the best prospect that the Jets have selected in this draft class. Tippmann is a really great blocker and was the most consistent blocking on the run and trying to protect whoever was playing QB. Tippmann was arguably the the best offensive lineman on the team.

It just stinks that Tippman suffered multiple injuries during his rookie season. He missed games due to a quad injury and even picked up a thigh injury as well. Were not done yet as in Week 18 Tippman suffered an ankle injury that took him out a majority of that game. Tippman has the skills to be a great offensive lineman on this team. However his durabbility concerns can’t be ignored and is a blemish on his rookie season.

Not changing his grade and it is still going to be an A-.

4th Round, 120th Pick – OT Carter Warren, Pittsburgh

Half Season Grade: N/A
1 Year Grade: D+

Out of all the players taken in this class, I don’t know what to think about Carter Warren. He was not great during his rookie season, but it was clear that he was still dealing with that Shoulder Injury. He did start 5 games for the New York Jets and showed flashes while playing hurt, so there is still potential with Warren. he is an interesting watch in training camp as he could do better with another year of development. However, he needs to stay healthy as the best ability is availability. I don’t think a HACKENBERG grade makes sense here, but a D+ for his rookie season would make sense.

Round 5, 143 Pick – RB Israel Abanikanda, Pittsburgh

Half Season Grade: N/A
1 Year Grade: D

The one complaint in the half season grades was that Israel Abanikanda was barley being used. Its understandable why looking back as Abanikanda has a Quad Injury, but even when he was healthy, he was a constantly on the inactive list. Well, when the Jets made a move to release Michael Carter and allow Dalvin Cook to go ring chase with Baltimore, Abanikanda got his shot with more playing time.

So, how was Abanikanda on the field? Well, he did not impress. In the 6 games he played, Abanikanda only had 22 carries for 70 rushing yards and made 7 catches for 43 receiving yards. Which is not great and maybe with another offseason, Abanikanda could improve. In regards to his rookie season, it is best to forget about and it is getting a D for being disappointing.

Round 6, Pick 184 – LB Zaire Barnes, Western Michigan

Half Season Grade: N/A
1 Year Grade: HACKENBERG

Has Zaire Barnes even had a snap this season, or is he a part of the witness protection program? He has mainly been on the inactive list, and even if Barnes was active, he was barely being used. It’s not a good sign, and because he was mostly a healthy scratch, this grade has to get the HACKENBERG grade.

Round 6, Pick 204 – CB/S Jarrick Bernard-Converse, LSU

Half Season Grade: N/A
1 Year Grade: N/A

Jarrick Bernard-Converse was injured the most of the season with a foot injury. Even when Jarrick Bernard-Converse was healthy, he did a whole lot of nothing through his rookie season. I don’t think a HACKENBERG grade here is fair as Bernard-Converse was hurt most of the season, and he barely played, so for now, I am going to give the pick an N/A grade. However, it’s not looking great long term with this pick, and he is going to need to stand out next season to have a part on this team long term.

Round 7, Pick 220, TE Zack Kuntz, Old Dominion

Half Season Grade: HACKENBERG
1 Year Grade: HACKENBERG

Zack Kuntz only had one appearance this season and it was against the New England Patriots in the Season Finale. He barley did anything excluding a special teams appearance. Besides that he did next to nothing except be stashed on the practice squad. This has to be labeled as a HACKENBERG grade.

2023 NFL Draft Grade (One Year Later): D+

Excluding Joe Tippman, this class has been terrible for the Jets. I am not going to give it a horrible grade, as a lot of these players dealt with injuries, including Carter Warren, Israel Abanikanda, and Jarrick Bernard-Converse. However, other players did not play games and were a healthy scratch, including Isreal Abanikanda, Will McDonald, and Zaire Barnes. Zack Kuntz was mostly on the practice squad, excluding Week 18 of the season.

Overall I think a D+ makes sense and the only reasons it has the + attached is with how Tippman performed when healthy. There is still potential with this class, but they have to stay healthy and show something next season.

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