The Patriots’ trade-down in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft both landed them highly touted cornerback Christian Gonzalez and had the added benefit of sticking it to the hated Jets.
Or so it appeared at the time.
New England’s move from pick No. 14 to No. 17 allowed the Pittsburgh Steelers to vault ahead of New York — picking at No. 15 — and grab Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones, who’d widely been viewed as a first-round target for the tackle-needy Jets. A behind-the-scenes video from inside the Jets’ draft room confirmed Jones was on their radar as their selection approached — but also that general manager Joe Douglas wasn’t caught off guard by the Patriots’ trade.
In fact, the team-released clip showed Douglas predicting the deal, the partner and the player.
“I bet somebody is going to trade up in front of us in front of us for Broderick Jones, with New England,” the Jets GM said. “Pittsburgh.”
Then, after the trade was announced, Douglas reiterated: “Broderick Jones.”
Earlier in the same video, another Jets exec asked Douglas how he would rank three of the team’s possible targets at No. 15. His response: Iowa edge rusher Will McDonald IV first, Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer second, then Jones third.
New York wound up taking McDonald, whom many analysts expected would go later in Round 1. Mayer fell to the second round, going 35th overall to the Las Vegas Raiders.
It’s easy to see why the Jets would want to make these videos public. They show Douglas and company weren’t caught flat-footed by Pittsburgh’s jump for Jones, and that, at least according to the audio captured in the clip above, the Patriots’ trade didn’t actually prevent them from landing their No. 1 target.
Who knows whether New York would have ultimately passed on Jones — the last of the perceived top-tier tackles to come off the board — had he been available at No. 15, but this footage suggests their first-round plan wasn’t thrown into disarray by the Patriots’ draft-night maneuvering.
And there didn’t seem to be any hard feelings between the two AFC East rivals. Two days later, they teamed up for a trade of their own, with the Jets dealing the 112th overall pick to the Patriots to allow them to select kicker Chad Ryland. New York netted picks No. 120 and 184 in return.