NY Jets Mock Draft: Surrounding QB Aaron Rodgers with Talent

Jan 8, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) walks off the field following the game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 8, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) walks off the field following the game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Another day closer to the 2023 NFL Draft, another day wondering when the Aaron Rodgers trade to the Jets will become official. Until then, the NFL Draft community is stuck at a crossroads with mock draft articles.

While anyone you ask is confident Rodgers will be a Jet, no one can give you a clear timetable on when to expect a deal. Conventional wisdom says it is more advantageous for both sides to get a deal done before the NFL Draft starts next week, as it must be difficult to game plan for a draft when you don’t even know which picks you’ll have.

However, there are a few reasons why waiting until after the draft is actually the better move for each side. For the Jets, it makes sense to want to stack up the roster with one more awesome class before trading a couple of premium picks for an aging quarterback.

On the flip side, the Packers don’t have to win a ring in year one of the Jordan Love era. Sure, in a perfect world, the front office would acquire multiple picks in this year’s NFL Draft, using them to land immediate impact players for the roster. But if the Jets offer more valuable picks in the future, it would be wise for Green Bay to look at things from a long-term perspective.

NY Jets Mock Draft: Surrounding QB Aaron Rodgers with Talent

Either way, the Aaron Rodgers saga will come to an end soon, even if it is after the NFL Draft. For the sake of this mock draft, we are going to make the trade happen BEFORE.

In exchange for the Hall of Fame quarterback, the Jets send No. 43 overall in 2023 and a conditional second-rounder in 2024 which becomes a first if Rodgers wins MVP or a third if he opts to retire after the 2023 season. This compromise is the fairest deal for both sides and leaves New York with plenty of picks to bolster the roster around Rodgers.

Round 1, No. 13: Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern

On paper, the Jets have a promising offensive line group heading into 2023. The issue is, some of the players on the line are made of paper. Mekhi Becton transformed his body this offseason, and I have high hopes for him as the team’s franchise left tackle. Alijah Vera-Tucker brings high-end play from the interior or at tackle, but he has to stay healthy.

Max Mitchell and Duane Brown are very different from each other, as Mitchell is still youthful and learning the ropes of being an NFL player. Brown, a 15-year veteran, played well in 2022, but his best days are long behind him. Throw in the recent signing of Laken Tomlinson last offseason and it gives the Jets five capable players on the offensive line — when healthy.

Still, after acquiring a 39-year-old quarterback, general manager Joe Douglas knows that reinforcements are necessary going forward. This is where Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski can make his presence felt. Skoronski is the most polished blocker in the class, boasting impeccable technique regularly throughout his career.

The reason Skoronski is such a great fit in New York is the fact he can play anywhere on the offensive line — at a high level, no less. The Wildcat veteran can even line up as a center if asked to do so, giving head coach Robert Saleh the enviable freedom to get his best five linemen on the field each snap. Skoronski starts this mock draft on a strong note.

Round 2, No. 42 (via CLE): Kelee Ringo, DB, Georgia

The Jets are building a juggernaut on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the secondary with the arrival of instant superstar Sauce Gardner. DJ Reed and Jordan Whitehead are strong starters at this point in their careers, and even Bryce Hall and Michael Carter II have shown flashes.

So, with the No. 42 overall pick, the Jets finish off the build in the secondary by taking Kelee Ringo out of Georgia. It is true Ringo was once considered a potential top-10 prospect in the class, but with a combination of others outperforming him and a deeper dive on Ringo’s tape, it’s clear he’s more of a fringe day-one pick.

Regardless, at this point of the mock draft he is worth taking the swing on. Ringo grades out best as a safety on my big board, but he has the traits to play the big nickel and on the boundary if called upon. The former Georgia standout is stiff in his movement in man coverage, but thanks to supreme athleticism, including remarkable recovery speed, he can still make plays on the ball anyway.

I would take Ringo early on day two and let him compete at multiple spots in training camp. If he proves the ‘stiffness’ worries are overblown, then New York gets to build around two elite cornerbacks on rookie deals. If he is still clunky on the boundary, Ringo can move into the big nickel or safety role and become an All-Pro in no time.

Round 4, No. 112: Andrei Iosivas, WR, Princeton

After bringing in a protector for Aaron Rodgers, the Jets add a young pass catcher who draws comparisons to Rodgers’ teammate in 2022, Christian Watson. Like Watson, Iosivas is a freaky athlete. He dominated a lower level of competition during his career in the Ivy League, but his time at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine proved that his production was no fluke.

Iosivas possesses legitimate track star speed, playing even faster than his 4.4 40-yard dash time posted at the Combine. When it comes to route running and hands, Iosivas checks all the boxes. His tree could be a tad more diverse, but the way Iosivas cleanly comes out of his breaks is impressive and should translate. His hands are like magnets, displaying the ability to go up and get the ball as well as track it deep over his shoulder downfield.

It typically takes Rodgers some time to gel with younger pass catchers, but with reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson in tow, the stubborn quarterback must become more willing to trust his still-ascending receivers. Rodgers proved he could do that last season with Watson and Romeo Doubs… now it is time to do it again with Wilson and Iosivas.

Round 5, No. 143: Mohamoud Diabate, LB, Utah

A traitsy linebacker is something Robert Saleh would love to add to his defense this late in the mock draft. Mohamoud Diabate is a rare linebacker prospect because he is capable of doing anything. His size is enough to hold up in the run game, and his burst allows him to surprise opposing quarterbacks with savvy blitz attempts.

Diabate’s range from sideline to sideline is as good as any in the class, and he plays at 100 mph on every snap. With this comes some red flags, as Diabate is known to over-pursue the ball, taking himself out of the plays with poor angles. The good outweighs the bad with the Utah superstar, as he is ready to prove the NFL was sleeping on him by not inviting him to the Scouting Combine in March.

Round 6, No. 207 (via HOU): Will Mallory, TE, Miami

We will end the mock draft with one more weapon for the offense. Miami’s Will Mallory is among the fastest tight ends at the position, using impressive long speed to get open downfield and with the ball in his hands to run past defenders.

Mallory can clean up his blocking and become more consistent as a route runner, but the sleeper tight end should challenge last year’s third-rounder Jeremy Ruckert for snaps as a rookie. Once the older Conklin and (overpaid) Uzomah depart, Mallory and Ruckert can lead the depth chart into the future.