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Robert Saleh says pick swap with Packers didn’t impact the Jets’ draft

New York selected pass-rusher Will McDonald IV with the 15th selection

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As part of the Aaron Rodgers trade with the New York Jets, the Green Bay Packers received the Jets’ 13th overall pick in the draft — which turned into Iowa pass-rusher Lukas Van Ness — in exchange for the Packers’ 15th overall pick — which turned into Iowa State pass-rusher Will McDonald IV. It has been speculated that this was a strategic move by the Packers, as the New England Patriots, who were sitting in the 14th spot in the draft, brought Van Ness in for an official visit. At the time that the trade terms had leaked but before the trade was official, Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst stated that he would only make the move if he thought it was “important” to do so.

The Patriots ended up trading out of the 14th pick, which led to the Pittsburgh Steelers taking tackle Broderick Jones — a popular mock draft selection for the tackle-needy Jets. The Jets then turned in the card for McDonald, who was viewed as one of the biggest reaches in the draft. According to the consensus draft board, McDonald — the soon-to-be-24-year-old 239-pounder — was the 34th overall rated prospect in the draft.

The timeline of the Rodgers trade, including the first-round pick swap, was covered by Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer earlier this week — in which he stated that the value of the swap was roughly equal to a mid-round draft choice.

The two settled at 65%, and, to get the Packers to agree to come off the hard first-round pick, the Jets agreed to switch spots in the first round this year, with Green Bay jumping from No. 15 to 13 and New York going down two slots (which equated to giving up a low-third- or high-fourth-round pick on the teams’ draft-value charts). Gutekunst then agreed to send his fifth-round pick (No. 170) to the Jets for their sixth-rounder (No. 207) to give Douglas another win to take back to his owner.

Still, Jets head coach Robert Saleh swore to television host Rich Eisen that the swap of first-round selections didn’t impact the Jets in the 15th slot, after Eisen brought up the missed opportunity of Jones going one selection before them. In the interview, Saleh claimed, “The difference between #13 and #15, in the way everything shook out, made no difference to us”

I’m not sure I believe him, but what else is the coach supposed to say? I don’t think any coach in the history of the league has ever admitted, “Yeah, that one got away from us,” about a first-round draft choice.

If you’d like to listen to the full interview, which includes Saleh’s early thoughts about Rodgers, you can find it linked below.