Boos, busts and blunders: New York Jets battle history of imperfect 10s in NFL draft

The Jets have made a living on their ten-year run of drafting first overall, but that streak ended at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New York has failed to make it out of this season’s wild card round for two consecutive years and three in a row since 2011.

The “jets qb draft busts” is a term that refers to the New York Jets’ history of drafting players who have turned out to be disappointments. The team has had many busts, including three first-round picks in 2010.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — They once selected a defensive lineman who was missing cartilage in one of his knees.

They chose a cornerback with more surgical experience than The Good Doctor.

They went with a tight end who had never caught more than 27 passes in a season in college and a wide receiver/track standout who had previously played in a wishbone style.

They were all voted into the top ten.

The New York Jets have a dreadful track record with top-10 choices, a slew of head-scratchers, and so-called blue-chippers who never lived up to their billing and disappeared into the great green ether. Even the so-called excellent options, which were acclaimed by fans and commentators, failed to deliver.

They should be much better now that they’ve had so much practice.

In the common-draft era, which began in 1967, the Jets have picked 26 players in the top 10, tied with the Detroit Lions for the third-most, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The Arizona Cardinals and Cincinnati Bengals have 28 apiece.

On April 28, assuming no trades, the Jets will be in a three-way tie for first place. They have the fourth and tenth selections in the draft, the latter obtained in a trade for safety Jamal Adams from the Seattle Seahawks in 2020. It’s the first time in team history that they’ve had two first-round choices.

Top 10 Jets draft choices of all time

Player/Year/Pick No. Games
QB, No. 2 in 2021 Wilson, Zach 13
DT Quinnen Williams, No. 3 in 2019, 41
QB, No. 3 in 2018, Darnold, Sam 50
S Jamal Adams, No. 6 in 2017, 70
DT, No. 6, 2015 Williams, Leonard 112
CB, No. 9, 2013, Dee Milliner is a fashion designer. 21
QB, No. 5 in 2009 Sanchez, Mark 79
DE Vernon Gholston, DE Vernon Gholston, DE Vernon Gholston, DE Vernon Gholston, DE Vernon G 45
OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson, No. 4 in 2006 160
No. 4, DT, 2003 Robertson, Dewayne 92
LB, No. 8, 1997 Farrior, James 230
Keyshawn Johnson, No. 1 WR in 1996 167
Kyle Brady, No. 9 in 1995. 197
No. 4, LB, 1993 Jones, Marvin 142
RB, No. 2, 1990 Thomas, Blair 64
No. 8, OT, 1988 Cadigan, Dave 82
Al Toon, No. 10, WR, 1985 107
No. 10, DB, 1984 Russell Carter is a character in the film Russell Carter 64
RB Freeman McNeil, No. 3 in 1981 144
WR, WR, WR, WR, WR, WR, WR, Jones, Johnny “Lam” 61
OT, No. 4, 1978 Ward, Chris 100
No. 4, OT, 1977 Powell, Marvin 133
QB, 1976, No. 6 Todd, Richard 119
DT, No. 6, 1974 Carl Barzilauskas is a Lithuanian writer. 70
TE Jerome Barkum, No. 9, 1972 158
RB, No. 6, 1971 Riggins, John 175

Only one player with several All-Pro seasons (tackle Marvin Powell) and one Pro Football Hall of Famer (running back John Riggins) has come out of their 26 draft choices. If you’re wondering where Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath came from, he was picked in 1965, when the NFL and AFL had separate drafts.

You’d think it’d be difficult to make a mistake, yet it occurs.

Jordan Reid, an ESPN draft commentator, stated, “It’s been a run of poor luck.” “They’ve got a lot of nice ones recently. I believe [quarterback] Zach [Wilson] will be just fine. Quinnen [Williams, defensive tackle] is improving; all he needs to do now is remain healthy. Things are improving, although there was a hard patch. Some of the men are familiar to me. It was just a run of terrible luck.”

The Jets should receive two future stars at Nos. 4 and 10 in theory, but we all know how the draft works. From Riggins in 1971 through Wilson in 2021, here’s a look at the Jets’ top ten players:

Biggest busts: Cornerback Dee Milliner (2013) and edge rusher Vernon Gholston (2008) stick out among the pack — or below it, depending on your perspective.

In three NFL seasons, Gholston has yet to earn a single sack. The coaches created particular plays for Gholston in the 2010 season finale, a game that didn’t matter since the Jets had already secured a playoff berth, so he could achieve that elusive sack. Even a specific game strategy didn’t work.

Milliner was well-known for his cover work, but there was considerable worry about his five surgeries while at Alabama. Sure enough, he was injured in his first training camp. His career was finished at the age of 25. Milliner played in less games than any other 2013 first-round choice (21).

The Jets startled everyone by picking tight end Kyle Brady, who was welcomed on stage with a torrent of boos, despite the New York fans yelling “We want Sapp!” in 1995. They passed on defensive lineman Warren Sapp, who would later be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Sapp’s off-the-field concerns made the Jets believe he was too hazardous at the time.

Brady told ESPN seven years ago in a story about his draft-day experience, “I confess, I was as perplexed as the fans.”

Brady, who had mediocre receiving stats at Penn State, spent 13 years on the field and earned almost $30 million. To be sure, it was a successful career, but there was no gold medal.

The Jets made three major moves to get into the top ten, two of which turned out to be major blunders. They signed wide receiver Johnny “Lam” Jones, an Olympic sprint champion who suffered from a severe case of the yips, in 1980. They were going to go after tackle Anthony Munoz, but they changed their minds due to worries about his surgically repaired knee. That didn’t stop him from being inducted into the Bengals’ Hall of Fame.

The Jets attempted a similar risky move to acquire defensive lineman Dewayne Robertson in 2003. Because they thought he was talented enough to be Sapp 2.0, they neglected a probable knee issue (see, no cartilage!). That’s not even close.

In 2009, the third trade was for quarterback Mark Sanchez, who went on to win four postseason games (all on the road) before his career ended. This deal, unlike the previous two, did not cost them two first-round selections. They believed they had found their franchise quarterback until they didn’t.

Powell (1977), who has three first-team All-Pro choices on his career, is seldom recognized among the Jets’ greats, but he deserves to be.

Mark Gastineau, the renowned Jets pass-rusher, remarked, “Without Marvin Powell, I wouldn’t have been the player I was.” “Every day in practice, we made each other better.”

D’Brickashaw Ferguson (2006), a tackle who hasn’t missed a game or practice in ten years, was another surprise solid choice. Cal Ripken Jr. was their Cal Ripken.

The first group All-Pro: Adams (2017), linebacker James Farrior (1997), wide receiver Al Toon (1985), and running backs Riggins and Freeman McNeil were all previous winners of the award (1981). It should be noted that Farrior and Riggins received their honors while playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Washington Redskins, respectively. Concussions cut short Toon’s promising career, one of the darkest chapters in Jets history.

The Jets selected Hall of Fame running back John Riggins, although he spent the most of his career with the Redskins. Photo courtesy of AP

Riggins, who was regarded as a wild youngster in the 1970s, was an instant hit with the Jets. In 1975, he was a Pro Bowl player and the club MVP, but he was released due to a contract disagreement, and he joined with Washington. Start here if you want to learn about the Jets’ history of letting talented players leave.

They chose enough players from USC to form a Trojans alumni club, which already has six members. Aside from Powell and Sanchez, quarterback Sam Darnold (2018), defensive end Leonard Williams (2015), wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson (1996), and lineman Dave Cadigan (1988) also had rocky starts to their careers. Cadigan was ran over by New England Patriots great Andre Tippett in his debut game, and cleat marks on Cadigan’s chest are possible. The former Trojan made news later in his career after confronting a reporter in the locker room. Yes, keep fighting!

The ‘what-if’ draft: The late Dick Steinberg had a thing for running back Blair Thomas in 1990. “Even my grandma could tell you he was the greatest player on the field,” the GM told a reporter in Mobile, Alabama, after witnessing Thomas earn MVP in the Senior Bowl. Junior linebacker Junior Seau and defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy were also absent from the game.

Thomas, the second overall pick, never materialized. Seau and Kennedy, the next two players on Steinberg’s draft board, went on to have Hall of Fame careers with the San Diego Chargers and Seattle Seahawks, respectively. Grandma should’ve kept an eye on the freshmen.

Most games played by a top-10 choice (Farrior 230, Brady 197, and Riggins 175) make up the all-longevity team. All three players have appeared in more games with clubs other than the Jets.

Mike Maccagnan, the Jets’ general manager, with four top-10 choices in five drafts. To reach to those places, they had to lose a lot of games. He made a few draft blunders, but his first-round choices weren’t all that horrible. With Darnold as the lone question mark, defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (2019), Adams, and Leonard Williams are all effective players in the league.

The Jets were overjoyed to get Darnold. “You have a horseshoe up your ass,” a club executive in the euphoric draft room quipped to Maccagnan after he surprisingly slipped to No. 3.

Reality eventually washed away the good fortune — a common story.

The “jets draft history” is a battle of imperfect 10s. The New York Jets have drafted 19 players with the number 10 in their name, and 16 of those players were busts.

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