The Jets selected Iowa State defensive end Will McDonald IV with the 15th overall pick of the NFL Draft on Thursday night.
McDonald was a late bloomer, starting to play football in his junior year of high school. But he made up for lost time in building his reputation as a top-notch edge rusher with 34 career sacks.
"I'm going to bring everything I can to the Jets," McDonald told Jets media shortly after his selection, "whether it's playing special teams, being a role player, doing whatever I've got to do. There were a lot of things I learned at Iowa State, I learned a lot of poise. I've been around good teammates, doing what I could do."
Two of those ISU products welcome him to the Jets. He played for three seasons with second-year RB Breece Hall and came to school in 2018, a year after WR Allen Lazard finished his college career, went to the Packers as an undrafted free agent, and recently signed as a free agent with the Jets.
"Breece and Allen are my boys. I'm just real excited," McDonald said. "I definitely can say Breece had taught me a lot and helped me develop into the man I am today. It's just an honor being back with my homies."
General manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh are likewise honored to welcome him to their team.
"We're excited to add Will to the team," Douglas said. "We feel like he's one of the most dynamic if not the most dynamic pass rushers in this draft. I think that was on full display at the Senior Bowl. ... "Not to speak for the coach, but he's going to be humming off the edge, using all that God-given length and speed."
"You know how we are with our D-line rotation, making sure everybody touches the field," Saleh said. "We come at you in waves. And with Aaron [Rodgers] here, we'll be playing with a few more late leads, giving us more opportunities to rush the passer. Will has got a unique ability to catch the corner."
McDonald (6-3, 239) started 12 games for the Cyclones last season and earned first-team All-Big 12 honors. He totaled 36 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, a team-leading five sacks, one forced fumble and four pass defenses.
In 2021, the Milwaukee native was named a first-team All-American, first-team All-Big 12 and Big 12 co-Defensive Lineman of the Year while leading the team with 11.5 sacks, 14 TFLs and five forced fumbles.
McDonald played in parts or all of five seasons for the Cyclones, the last two as a starter. He finished with 54 games and 23 starts, 123 tackles, 42 tackles for loss, 34 sacks, 10 forced fumbles and eight pass defenses.
His 34 sacks rank No. 1 in school history and are tied for the most in the Big 12, one more than Von Miller's 33 career QB takedowns.
McDonald is the Jets' ninth draft choice out of Iowa State all-time and comes to the Green & White one year after Hall was selected out of ISU in last year's second round. Besides Hall, the Jets got a season's plus of starts from both DE Kenny Neil (1981, 7th round, 169th overall) and DT James Reed (2001, 7th round, 206th).
The 15th overall choice, which the Jets got from Green Bay in the Rodgers trade package, is the highest pick the team has ever used to draft a Cyclone, ahead of Hall's 36th overall selection last year.
The Jets are next scheduled to pick in the second round (No. 43 overall) and have three picks on Day 3 — No. 112 (Round 4), No. 143 (Round 5) and No. 170 (Round 5).
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