Assuming the New York Jets are able to hold onto their 2023 first-round pick — which is now expected to stay in a potential trade for Aaron Rodgers — they must use the No. 13 overall selection wisely.
Obviously, first rounders are always important but considering the Jets believe Rodgers will break their postseason drought, general manager Joe Douglas may not pick this low again — without having to trade up — for a couple of drafts if all goes well. Having said that, the NYJ shot caller will most likely be looking to add a prospect that is both game-ready and high ceiling.
Because of this, offensive tackle could be the move, but Pittsburgh defensive tackle Calijah Kancey could also fit that mold if the top OTs are all off the board. Pro Football Focus analyst Michael Renner mocked the dynamic interior pass rusher to New York during a recent draft prediction that involved an early run on bookend blockers.
“The tackle run [Darnell Wright, Peter Skoronski, Paris Johnson Jr. and Broderick Jones all selected top 12] leaves the Jets empty-handed here,” Renner explained, “but their desperation at that position is a little overstated. Pairing Kancey with Quinnen Williams would give New York the most athletic defensive tackle duo in NFL history, a nightmare to pass block against on third downs.”
Potential Jets Draft Target Calijah Kancey Called ‘Dynamic’ & ‘Explosive’ by Scouting Experts
Kancey does fit the Robert Saleh build at D-tackle. He’s a disruptor, first and foremost, but he’s also a bit undersized at 6-foot-1 and 281 pounds according to NFL.com.
“One-gapping defensive tackle who is explosive and productive,” NFL Network draft expert Lance Zierlein scouted. “He’s a strong and determined player, but Kancey is still going to be a hit-or-miss run defender due to his lack of mass and length. While he will get pushed around at times, his first-step quickness and short memory allow him to make tackles in the backfield.”
Zierlein reiterated a word that Renner used too, referring to Kancey as a “nightmare” for the opposition as a pass rusher due to his “twitchy feet,” leverage and motor. He concluded: “Kancey might be most effective as a rotational run defender and full-time, sub-package rusher, but his size will not define him in the NFL.”
Joe Marino of The Draft Network added that Kancey “developed into one of the most dynamic defensive linemen in college football.” He’s a “spark plug” on the interior who plays with “incredible urgency,” quickness and “intent” according to Marino.
“He’s extremely physical and tough,” the scout detailed, “willing to exchange power with blockers that have 30-plus pounds on him on a weekly basis… Overall, his contact balance is very impressive given his size.”
Athletic? Hard-working? Explosive? Plus, a “king of strain” mentality on top of it all? Sounds like Kancey profiles as a DT prospect that is right up Saleh’s alley.
With Pittsburgh, the exciting young talent accumulated 34.5 tackles for a loss and 16 sacks over 33 NCAA outings. He also registered 91 total tackles, with three passes defended and one forced fumble.
NFL Mock Draft Has Jets Trading Both Second Rounders to Packers for Aaron Rodgers
In other news, Renner’s three-round mock draft with PFF never saw the Jets pick again. The writer sent both 2023 second rounders to the Green Bay Packers for Rodgers, and Gang Green no longer has a third-round selection after the Elijah Moore trade.
If this ends up happening, it wouldn’t be surprising if Douglas trades down from the No. 13 spot in the order — recouping some draft capital.
It’s also quite plausible that the Jets only send one of their two second rounders to Green Bay. Like their 2023 first, pick No. 42 or 43 could be very key in filling another roster hole — on the offensive line, perhaps, rather than the defensive side of the trenches.