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Boston Herald
Boston Herald
22 Apr 2023
Tribune News Service

NextImg:Here’s the player the Jets should target with the 13th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft

What a difference a year makes.

Last year, Gang Green selected three impactful players — Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Garrett Wilson and Jermaine Johnson — in the first round of the NFL Draft. The Jets also selected dynamic running back Breece Hall in the second round and he looked to be the favorite to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year before tearing his ACL in October.

A year later, a cloud continues to surround the Jets. More than a month after Aaron Rodgers announced his intentions to play for the Jets on “The Pat McAfee Show,” there continues to be a standoff between the Jets and the Packers on trade compensation leading up to the draft. Reportedly, Green Bay wants an unconditional first-round pick for Rodgers, while Gang Green has been reluctant to part with a first-rounder.

Although a trade for Rodgers could be reached during the first or second round of next week’s draft, the Jets aren’t expected to part ways with the No. 13 overall pick.

Following a 7-10 season in which they were once in a position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010, the Jets have fewer needs than a year ago. But the most significant need continues to be on the offensive line.

Both tackle spots are a question mark and the Jets need a starting center after last year’s starter Connor McGovern was not retained and remains a free agent. Left tackle Duane Brown had offseason shoulder surgery after the soon-to-be 38-year-old played the entire season with the injury.

Mekhi Becton, who the Jets selected in the first round of the 2020 draft, has only played one game in two seasons after suffering consecutive knee injuries in 2021 and 2022. The Jets did draft Max Mitchell, who started some games at right tackle after selecting him in the fourth round last year, but his season was cut short last year after discovering blood clots in his right calf and lung.

There’s no center worth taking at 13th overall, so tackle is likely the option for the Jets. That’s why Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski makes a lot of sense for Gang Green. Not only does Skoronski have experience playing at left tackle, but he has the versatility to be an All-Pro guard if the Jets need him there down the road.

“I think if you are just saying as a pure tackle, his tape is really, really good,” NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said on a conference call with reporters earlier this week. “… It’s hard to find guys that are 330 pounds that move like him and are as strong as he is.

“I think he is plug-and-play. I think he is ready to go. I have a higher grade on Skoronski. I think Skoronski can play tackle. I think Skoronski can be a good tackle, but I think Skoronski can be an unbelievable guard.”

As a freshman, Skoronski was the first Wildcat first-year player to make the All-Big Ten Second Team since 2017. He followed that up by making the All-Big Ten Team as a sophomore and a junior last season.

Not only was Skoronski a unanimous All-American his final season at Northwestern, he allowed just five sacks during his entire college career.

Skoronski’s NFL comparison is Cowboys guard Zack Martin who was a left tackle at Notre Dame before switching to right guard. At Northwestern, Skoronski displayed sound technique and power as a run blocker and he can succeed in any zone-blocking scheme.

At 6-4, 313 pounds, Skoronski’s stout body and low center of gravity gives him the advantage to win most one-on-one battles with opposing defensive linemen.

The Jets had 11 different offensive linemen start games for them last season. Drafting a player like Skoronski would give Gang Green some stability on the offensive line, something it has lacked for years.