The Silver Lining In the Rodgers Tragedy

By Stu Taylor

Monday Night football was supposed to be the night Jets fans have longed for. The team with the longest playoff drought in the NFL finally had their Quarterback in future hall of famer Aaron Rodgers. The atmosphere was bristling with electricity, akin to a big college game night. Add into that the emotions in NYC around the anniversary of 9/11 and Rodgers taking the field brandishing ‘Old Glory’, the stage was set. 

However, 4 snaps into Rodgers’ Jets career, the dreams became a nightmare. Rodgers hit the deck under pressure from the Bills Leonard Floyd. It was apparent something serious was up. We later came to know that a ruptured achilles was the diagnosis and Rodgers will miss the rest of the 2023 NFL Season. 

Packers-Jets Trade

Aaron Rodgers, after what seemed like months, eventually joined the New York Jets in a trade with the Green Bay Packers. The trade saw the Jets send the 13th, 42nd and 207th picks in the 2023 draft in exchange for the 15th and 170th pick. They also sent a conditional pick to the Packers in the 2024 draft. If Rodgers played 65% of the offensive snaps in 2024 this would be the Jets 1st round pick, if not this would be a 2nd rounder. 

The Jets now must turn to their previous incumbent at the quarterback position in former number 2 overall pick Zach Wilson, at least in the short term. However, Wilson has struggled in his first 2 years in the pros. Certainly the Jets will at minimum look for some veteran backup, if not someone to take over the starting role moving forward. 

However, in the long-term, the Jets may have their silver lining. We now know that the Jets will still have their 2024 first round pick, which surely, they felt would be headed to Green Bay. Even if Aaron Rodgers does undertake the hard grind of rehabbing after a torn Achilles at the age of 40 and starts the 2024 season in the hotseat, the Jets future at the position needs addressed. The 2024 NFL Draft may just be the place to do so. 

2024 Quarterback Prospects

Unless the Jets completely bomb under Wilson (or whoever they roll with under centre), I cannot see them picking within the top 5 picks – they have too good a defence and some explosive offensive weapons (looking at you Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson) for that to happen. This likely rules them out of the market for the current top 2 Quarterback in Caleb Williams and Drake Maye. However, there is a plethora of options that may be available later in the first round in what is a deep QB class. 

Heading up the group are two veterans of the college football scene, who have made the most of extra years of eligibility and the transfer portal, in Bo Nix of Oregon and Michael Penix of Washington. 

PAC-12 Passers

Nix started his college career underwhelmingly at Auburn but has had a renaissance since donning the Ducks uniform. A massive leap in pass completion, passing yards and TDs in 2022 has been followed up by a stellar start to the 2023 college football season. He has the requisite arm talent and athleticism to be an NFL quarterback. He has shown considerable growth over his college career and will certainly be in the conversation for first round consideration. 

Penix, of Washington, was plagued with injuries whilst at Indiana, when his season was cut short by injury on 3 separate occasions. However, he has stayed healthy since transferring to the Huskies and has shown his ability. He has the football IQ and arm talent with which you can see a path to being a starting quarterback at the next level. The left-hander has a lively arm, and when kept clean, can pick apart opposing defences. If he can clean up some throwing mechanics and improve out of structure play, he has a shot 

Early Season Statements

The name on everyone lips following the first 2 weeks of college football has been Sheduer Sanders, the son of the legendary Deion, and QB of the Colorado Buffaloes. Sanders has been electric through his first two games against TCU and Nebraska. He has demonstrated fantastic pocket awareness, field vision, ability to go through his progressions and an ability to drive the ball into tight windows, which had previously been questioned at Jackson State. As the lights get brighter as the season progresses, if Sanders continues this trajectory, many an NFL team will be keen to get their hand on him. 

Texas Longhorns QB Quinn Ewers, a transfer from Ohio State, has certainly made waves early this season. A pure pocket passer, Ewers possess a unique blend of natural arm talent, touch at all three levels and ability to read opposing defenders. He has the arm ability and nuance to his game to put the ball exactly where his receivers need it to be. A year of growth and mistake free football could see Ewers curry favour with NFL scouting departments.

However, there are more prospects out with the above who could all continue to rise up draft boards as the draft day approaches. NFL teams love a project and physical tools. Although not all these players are, or will be, first rounders there are plenty name to keep an eye on who may have teams thinking about their options.

A Deep Class

Washington State’s Cam Ward in an intriguing prospect with an NFL arm who can make plays out of structure. Riley Leonard, from Duke, has many fans in Draft circles. An athlete who considered playing basketball is a work in progress with plenty of upside. The high-flying FSU Seminoles have a QB in Jordan Travis who is on the smaller side but has natural talent and a competitive streak that some will love. There is also the likes of JJ McCarthy, Michael Pratt and KJ Jefferson who could all have big years. 

Whatever happens with Aaron Rodgers moving forward, the Jets have now entered the 2024 NFL Draft Quarterback conversation. Whilst not without their faults, they have a roster with key young players such as Garrett Wilson, Sauce Gardner, Quinnen Williams, Breece Hall and Alijah Vera-Tucker. Adding a young QB to the mix could finally give much maligned Jets fans something to cheer about. 



STu covers the NFL draft and the NFL. He comes to the touchdown with experience having previously written for ninety-nine yards. You can also hear him regularly on the “Ninety-Nine yards” and ‘DRAFT TALK” PODCASTS. You can also find him on ‘X’ (formerly known as Twitter) @stuie17

Image Credits:

Feature Image:

Aaron Rodgers: AP Photo/Adam Hunger


Bo Nix: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Riley Leonard: 11ABC