The Jets wasted their 2023 1st-round draft pick

New York Jets defensive end Will McDonald IV (99) against the Cleveland Browns during the first half at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 NFL season was an absolute flop for the New York Jets. Several aspects of the season were notably frustrating, including the handling of rookie DE/EDGE Will McDonald. The Jets invested the 13th overall pick in McDonald, and if there is one word to describe his rookie season, it would be “wasted.”

The Will McDonald pick never made any sense

When looking back at this selection, it never made any sense whatsoever. They had an insane amount of depth at DE/EDGE rusher and there were plenty of needs that this team had, especially on offense. It was a head-scratching pick.

Another puzzling aspect was that many considered McDonald to be a second/third-round prospect in the draft, so the Jets reached with this pick.

McDonald was underutilized as a rookie

McDonald was barely utilized consistently. He did play this season, but he was mostly on special teams or in garbage time football. In fact, 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. He finally got an increased amount of snaps at the end of the season and finished with 14 tackles, 3 sacks, and even forced a fumble.

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While McDonald showed flashes, the Jets wasted his rookie season

McDonald’s rookie season was an absolute waste. The Jets barely played McDonald this season when it mattered on defense. They must have wanted to redshirt him for next year, but this team is in win-now mode with Aaron Rodgers on the team. Drafting McDonald did not help this team on defense, and it felt like a waste the moment they drafted him, and it still feels like a waste following the 2023 NFL Season.

The only way that the Jets can rewrite the wasted pick label with McDonald is if he stands out next season. The best way to do that is to increase his snaps and let him play, especially as it looks like Bryce Huff could be departing the team, as the Jets will not likely re-sign him to a new deal after a career year. Only time will tell long term if the bust label will be given to McDonald, but as of now, it is clear the Jets wasted their 2023 first-round pick. Let’s see if he can turn it around.