Instant analysis of Jets selecting Pitt RB Israel Abanikanda
The Jets added to their running back room with the selection of Pittsburgh running back Israel Abanikanda with the 143rd pick of the 2023 NFL draft.
With the Jets recently releasing Ty Johnson, running back was likely an option at some point in the draft for the Jets and they find themselves a nice one in the fifth round.
Abanikanda (5-10, 216 pounds), of Nigerian descent and born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, is coming off a very strong season for the Panthers in 2022. He ran for 1,431 yards on 239 carries (six yards per carry) with a whopping 20 touchdowns. He led the ACC in rushing yards and led the FBS in scoring. He also added a receiving touchdown for good measure.
Abanikanda brings a lot of speed and burst to the Jets’ running back room. He ran a 4.44 40-yard dash at his Pro Day (a hamstring injury kept him from running at the Scouting Combine). He doesn’t have the greatest balance but his vision and speed allow him to make up for it and he is a potential home-run hitter on each play. He makes for a very nice complementary back with Breece Hall and overall, the Jets certainly don’t have a bad group when also adding in Michael Carter and Zonovan Knight.
Abanikanda can also work as a returner for the Jets with his speed. He has a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown in 2021 to his credit as well.
And perhaps the best part is he is still very young. He doesn’t turn 21 until October. Hard to argue with the value and fit at pick 143.