By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets got another protector for Aaron Rodgers — someone who could anchor their offensive line for years to come.
Wisconsin center Joe Tippmann was selected by the Jets in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday night. The 43rd overall pick helps bolster an O-line that will have the recently acquired Rodgers behind it this season.
“We’re fired up to add Big Joe to the team,” general manager Joe Douglas said. “Excellent size, excellent feet, can bend, great on the move. I feel like he’s a natural fit for our offensive style.”
The Jets also initially held the 42nd pick in the draft, but traded it to Green Bay in the deal to acquire Rodgers this week.
Tippmann, listed by the Jets at 6-foot-6 and 313 pounds, was a two-year starter at center for the Badgers. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection the past two seasons. Tippmann allowed only one sack and five pressures in 338 pass blocking snaps last season.
“I’m a physical, dominant player,” Tippmann said during a video call. “Athletic as well. I’m someone who’s hopefully going to be able to get out and pull.”
The Fort Wayne, Indiana, native provides competition for veteran Connor McGovern, who was re-signed by New York earlier this week. McGovern has been the Jets’ starting center the past three seasons, starting 48 games and missing only two since signing as a free agent in 2020.
“You guys know how we are, everyone’s competing,” coach Robert Saleh said. “It doesn’t matter where you get drafted or how much you get paid, you’re coming in to compete to begin with. So, it’s going to be an open competition.”
In addition to the battle at center, right tackle could be a competition between Mekhi Becton and Max Mitchell, both of whom are returning from health issues last season. Becton had a knee injury and Mitchell dealt with blood clots. The other projected starters include left tackle Duane Brown, left guard Laken Tomlinson and right guard Alijah Vera-Tucker.
Douglas raved about Tippmann’s versatility, something the Jets GM likes to have all along the offensive line.
Tippman’s name was announced for the Jets at the draft site in Kansas City by former offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, a first-rounder in 2006 who missed only one snap in his 10-year career.
Tippmann also has a solid Jets connection: One of his coaches from fifth grade through high school was Jason Fabini — a fourth-round pick of New York in 1998 who played left and right tackle during eight seasons with the team.
“I was able to absorb so much from him,” Tippman said. “He’s been someone who has been like a mentor to me, kind of like a lifeline, somebody I can always lean on.”
The Jets selected Iowa State edge rusher Will McDonald with the 15th overall pick Thursday night.
McDonald was formally introduced by the Jets at the team’s facility a few hours before the draft resumed Friday night.
He drew laughs from reporters while discussing his ability to ride a unicycle and his propensity for leaping over parked vehicles to show off his jumping skills.
“The next thing I’ll be jumping over is (offensive) tackles, that’s it,” a smiling McDonald said. “I’m officially retired from jumping over cars.”
New York was next scheduled to pick Saturday in the fourth round (No. 112) and it has a pair of fifth-rounders — at Nos. 143 and 170. Douglas acknowledged there were a few conversations entering the draft about perhaps trying to obtain a third-round pick, but the Jets ultimately stood pat.
“Nothing materialized for us,” Douglas said.
NOTES: The Jets announced they signed long snapper Thomas Hennessy to a four-year contract extension. Hennessy, the team’s longest-tenured player, was entering the final year of his deal.
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