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Jets' Will McDonald Ready to 'Ball Out, Take Care of Business' in Year 2

Rookie DE Set to Train With Jermaine Johnson in Offseason


Will McDonald IV's rookie season did not go the way he expected.

McDonald had limited playing time with 184 snaps in 15 games, but flashed his raw talent, particularly his bend off the edge, that made him the No. 15 overall pick. He totaled 3 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 5 QB hits and aforced fumble despite not taking more than 18 snaps in a game.

"I still made the most of my opportunities," he said. "I tried to make as many plays as I can. I definitely learned a lot from the guys in the locker room. Next year, I'm about to ball out, take care of my business."

McDonald plans to follow ablueprint similar tothat fellow DL Jermaine Johnson laid out. After remaking his body over his first offseason, Johnson tripled his sack total from 2.5 to 7.5 (second on the team) and almost quadrupled his tackles for loss from 3 to 11. Johnson, drafted No. 26 overall in 2022, took the second-most snaps of any Jets defensive lineman this season and started all 17 games after no starts as a rookie.

"I'm supposed to be training with him during this offseason, so I'm certainly going to be learning a lot more from him," McDonald said. "Take care of my body, make sure that I'm not wasting time, not going out and partying. He said [to me], 'Get your mindset right, have your heart in it and just do your thing. Come back next year, take advantage of your opportunities and get right.' "

After a stop at home in Wisconsin, McDonald will train in Houston, TX, Californiawith Johnson and in Florham Park. His primary goal is to add weight to his 237-pound frame and report back between 250 and 255 pounds.

"It'll definitely help with power, just make sure I'm getting a better knockback," he said. "I was already doing it well now, but just adding a lot of muscle mass, I feel like it's going to be a lot better.

"This offseason I'm about to go crazy. When I come back, I'm going to be a whole different person."

McDonald showed a knack to get to the quarterback at Iowa State -- his 34 career sacks areNo. 1 in school history and are tied for the Big-12 record, edging future Hall of Fame pass rusher Von Miller by a single sack. McDonald's10 forced fumbles are tied for a school record. Had McDonald taken double the reps (368 snaps), his 6 sacks would've been tied with DT Quinton Jefferson (469 snaps) for the third-most on the team.

The Jets' defensive line room is deep, part of the reason McDonald did not see the field as much as he wanted. Bryce Huff, whose 10 sacks led the team this season, and Carl Lawson both have expiring contracts. If they sign elsewhere, that could result in more opportunities for McDonald.

"I argue it's kind of a blessing to be able to be a part of that D-line room as a rookie," HC Robert Saleh said late in the season. "I know as a first-round pick, he wants more production and he wants more playing time, but there's a lot of really cool dudes in that room that provide unbelievable examples for what that looks like. If he attacks the offseason in the way Jermaine attacked his offseason, Will McDonald is going to be a superstar in this league."

Take a look through some of the best photos throughout the Jets 2023 season.

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