The rivalry between the New England Patriots and New York Jets is so thick you can cut it with a knife. Bill Belichick has had a special kind of hate for the Jets since resigning as their head coach in 2000. He serves as the Patriots’ general manager and on day one of the 2023 NFL draft, he really stuck it to Gang Green.
It was well-known that the Jets had a particular interest in offensive tackle Broderick Jones. The 6-foot-5, 311-pound lineman would’ve looked really good protecting their new golden boy Aaron Rodgers. And with a fledgling line, a top-tier tackle is exactly what New York needed.
Belichick personally saw to it that his rival would not get the player they so coveted and were mere minutes away from selecting with their first-overall pick at No. 15. In the draft day trade, the Patriots swapped first-round picks with the Pittsburgh Steelers and received a 2023 fourth-rounder (No. 120 overall). The Steelers moved up to No. 14 and grabbed their guy.
“They should have had to give up a [third-round pick] and not a four to move up there,” one NFL general manager said anonymously to The Washington Post. “Belichick did it just to f*** the Jets. He sold low because he knew the Steelers were going to take the kid the Jets wanted to take.”
And sell low, he did. According to the NFL draft chart, which assigns value points to selections, the No. 14 overall pick is worth 1,100 points and No. 17 overall 950 points. For it to be an even trade, the Steelers would’ve had to make up for the 150-point differential with an additional late pick or a higher third-rounder, as the general manager suggested. Instead, the pick Pittsburgh gave (No. 120) was worth only 54 points.
Belichick’s evil plan worked out perfectly in his eyes and that’s all that mattered. New England obviously didn’t want Jones, but had their eye on (and got) cornerback Christian Gonzalez. Of course, he didn’t do it to help the Steelers, only keep Jones out of the AFC East for the foreseeable future.
As Jones was the final top-tier tackle left, the Jets were forced to pivot and took the best player available route with defensive end Will McDonald IV.
Broderick Jones is Just What the Pittsburgh Steelers Need
In an effort to retool, the Pittsburgh Steelers added a bevy of offensive linemen via free agency including guards Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig. While that position was previously a weak spot for the team with Kevin Dotson‘s struggles, tackle was certainly another. It’s hard to imagine a 14th overall pick being a backup, but it’s likely Mike Tomlin will call it a “competition” at training camp with veterans Chuks Okorafor and Dan Moore. Though Jones played on the left exclusively at Georgia, Tomlin could end up moving Moore in on the right over Okorafor.
Per Pro Football Network, Jones’ only full season as a starter was in 2022, but he did start the final four games of Georgia’s 2021 season, including the National Championship game. Jones as a raw prospect doesn’t faze Tomlin in the slightest — otherwise, the Steelers wouldn’t have drafted him. “He’s got big-time upside,” he said in a post-draft press conference. “But he’s also a good football player right now.”
Jones shows elite movement for his size and position, getting to the second level with ease. He also finishes well, showing a mean streak when it comes to driving opposing defenders out of the play.
That kind of nasty is just what the Pittsburgh Steelers need to make their way back to that physical style of football they’re known for. Kenny Pickett and Najee Harris will be that much better for it, too.