The New England Patriots traded away their 14th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to the Pittsburgh Steelers and in the process stuck it to their division rival New York Jets. Who says the season starts in September? It's the NFL Draft and rivalries don't take the days off.
The Jets were looking to come out of the first round with a top offensive tackle to guard their newest acquisition, Aaron Rodgers. With three offensive tackles already off the board, the Jets were most likely set to target Georgia's Broderick Jones with the 15th pick in the draft. But if acquiring quarterback Aaron Rodgers fueled the fire of the New England-New York rivalry, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick saw an opportunity to pour gasoline all over it.
Belichick Owns New York Again
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Belichick found a trade partner who was also desperate for an offensive tackle, and made the trade to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who selected Broderick Jones one pick before the Jets would have. With Jones, the Steelers get a two-time National Champion who will be charged with protecting Kenny Pickett's blindside. The former Bulldog has the ability to manhandle defenders; he has length and tremendous upper body speed. The trade-up and selection of Broderick Jones is the first official draft move by new GM Omar Khan.
Broderick Jones did not allow a single sack in 445 pass blocks at tackle last season, the most in the SEC. pic.twitter.com/deKII9CHLy
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 28, 2023
The trade was a simple one. The Patriots and Steelers swapped first-round picks, with the Steelers moving up to 14th and throwing in a fourth-rounder to sweeten the deal. The Patriots selected Christian Gonzalez, a cornerback from Oregon, with the 17th pick, a player they probably would have taken at 14. But if you can get your guy and still stick it to a division rival and pick up an extra fourth-rounder, what's the harm?
Patriots and Steelers Swap Leaves Jets Stunned
Honestly, Bill Belichick will be smiling about this one for a while, as draft viewers could tell by the length of time it took the Jets to get their pick in. It proved that the Patriots mastermind expertly pulled a fast one over on his rivals in New York as they scrambled to pivot to plan B.
Bill Belichick trading with the Steelers knowing they were taking the player the Jets wanted.pic.twitter.com/C8RrX779V8
— Thomas Carrieri (@Thomas_Carrieri) April 28, 2023
Will MacDonald IV was the Jets' pick at 15, and while he wasn't expected to go that high in the draft, New York is getting a 6-foot-4 edge rusher out of Iowa State who recorded 36 tackles last season and a team-high five sacks. He joins a large group of pass rushers that includes last year's first-round pick, Jermaine Johnson. Will McDonald will be an asset to Gang Green's stout defense, but he isn't exactly what the Jets were looking for in the first round.
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