New York Jets: A history of multiple first round picks

New York Jets, Joe Namath

Barring any shocking trades, the New York Jets will have multiple first-round picks for the ninth time in franchise history.

For the ninth time in franchise history, the New York Jets fill out at least two draft cards during first-round action at the NFL Draft…barring any unforeseen developments, of course. New York holds the second overall pick in this year’s draft (one all but confirmed to be used on their next franchise quarterback), while they also hold the 23rd overall choice obtained from Seattle in last offseason’s Jamal Adams deal. The process is currently on pace to repeat itself next year.

How did the Jets and those picks of years gone by fare? ESM takes a trip down draft memory lane…

1965 (AFL)

  • QB Joe Namath, Alabama (1st)
  • RB Tom Nowatzke, Indiana (4th)

Namath was the subject of an AFL-NFL bidding war and was drafted by both leagues in November 1964. True to his larger-than-life form, Namath made some high-roller requests from his NFL employers, the St. Louis Cardinals (who chose him 12th overall). When the Cardinals made a request of their own (asking him to sign immediately, which would render Namath ineligible for the upcoming Orange Bowl against Texas), Namath turned them down and joined the Jets. He’d take his revenge against the NFL in the most iconic way possible, the legendary Super Bowl III triumph that changed the course of professional football.

The Jets had Denver’s pick in that same draft and took Nowatzke, a Big Ten rushing champion out of Bloomington. Nowatzke was the opposite of Namath, turning down the AFL to play in the NFL, chosen 11th by the Detroit Lions. He moved onto the Baltimore Colts, the Jets’ Super Bowl victims, in 1970 and wound up scoring the team’s lone touchdown in their Big Game triumph over Dallas two years after Namath’s guarantee.

1972

  • WR/TE Jerome Barkum, Jackson State (9th)
  • LB Mike Taylor, Michigan (20th)

Barkum quietly built one of the longest and successful receiving tenures in Jets history as both a receiver and a tight end. He reached a Pro Bowl in his second NFL season and stands as one of only four Jets to catch at least 40 touchdowns in green (Don Maynard, Wesley Walker, and Wayne Chrebet are the others). Barkum also ranks eighth in team history in career yardage (4,789) and ninth in receptions (326).

Taylor’s tenure wasn’t so prosperous. The consensus All-American lasted only two seasons in the NFL, opting to join the short-lived World Football League’s Detroit Wings after that.

1984

  • CB Russell Carter, SMU (10th)
  • DE Ron Faurot, Arkansas (15th)

Carter, another All-American nominee, had a strong start to his NFL career, earning four interceptions in his debut year. He notably earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors during Week 15 action in December through two sacks and an interception in a win over Buffalo. Alas, Carter never earned another NFL interception and lasted only four seasons in New York before partaking in two years with the Los Angeles Raiders to end his career. Making the Carter dropout all the more painful was the fact that Wilbur Marshall went to Chicago at No. 11. Marshall would join the Jets for his final season in 1995…after reaching three Pro Bowls and earning both a Super Bowl title and the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Year title.

Meanwhile, Faurot, acquired with a pick from New Orleans in exchange for former franchise quarterback Richard Todd, saw his career derailed by injuries and was released before the midway mark of his sophomore season.

1995

  • TE Kyle Brady, Penn State (9th)
  • DE Hugh Douglas, Central State (16th)

It’s probably not officially draft day until the networks roll the clip of horrified Jets fans booing the choice of Brady, who was chosen three picks before Warren Sapp (and Sapp’s fellow future Pro Bowlers Mark Fields and Ruben Brown) with their regularly scheduled first-round choice. Brady was serviceable over a 13-year NFL career spent mostly with Jacksonville, but New Yorkers never got over the rejection of Sapp.

The Jets later used the 16th pick acquired from Arizona (for receiver Rob Moore) to take NAIA standout Douglas. He burst onto the scene with 10 sacks and Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, but the Jets nonetheless dealt him to Philadelphia in a process that netted them three picks after his sack total dropped to 4.5 by his third season. A separate deal with Pittsburgh made it four picks gained from the Douglas trade. That quartet eventually became Dorian Boose, Kevin Williams, Eric Bateman, and Casey Dailey…none of whom left a sizable New York impact. Douglas apparently took the deal personally and put up two All-Pro seasons in a different shade of green, notably leading the league in tackles for a loss twice.

2000

  • DE Shaun Ellis, Tennessee (12th)
  • LB John Abraham, South Carolina (13th)
  • QB Chad Pennington, Marshall (18th)
  • TE Anthony Becht, Virginia (27th)

The cost was great…namely losing future Super Bowl champions Bill Belichick and Keyshawn Johnson…but the Jets managed to get four consistent contributors that set them up for a solid decade. Ellis and Abraham united for 126 sacks with a green oval on their helmet, while Pennington took over the franchise quarterback role by 2002, working with a reliable red zone target in Becht.

Between 2000 and 2005 (when Abraham departed for Atlanta through a trade we’ll get to in a minute), the Jets earned four winning seasons and won a pair of playoff games. Ellis became a franchise staple through 2010 and reached two Pro Bowls as a Jet. On the other side of the ball, Pennington earned the league’s Comeback Player of the Year honor in 2006, helping the Jets get back to the playoffs after missing a majority of the prior campaign with an injury. When the Jets moved on from Pennington in 2008 in favor of Brett Favre, he dealt revenge in the most painful way possible: a division title with the Dolphins with the finishing touches dealt at Giants Stadium.

2006

  • T D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Virginia (4th)
  • C Nick Mangold, Ohio State (29th)

By far the most collaboratively productive of the multi-first round classes, Ferguson and Mangold became cornerstones of the Jets’ offense, paving the way for the consecutive visits to the AFC title game in 2010-11.

The idea of Jets fans booing D’Brickashaw Ferguson seems downright absurd today, but it was a reality upon his drafting in 2006. Supporters desperate to see USC legend Matt Leinart come out to the east coast gave Ferguson a not-so-friendly welcome, but the Freeport native was able to silence his doubters 160 consecutive starts, three Pro Bowls, and a single missed snap later.

Meanwhile, Mangold arrived through a trade that sent Abraham down south and more than made up for the defender’s departure. His blocking intensity was matched only by his personality, one that continues to show itself through appearances at local sports events, namely New York Rangers games at Madison Square Garden.

2008

  • DE Vernon Gholston, Ohio State (6th)
  • TE Dustin Keller, Purdue (30th)

Blessed with another multi-pick first round two years later, the Jets again attempted to mine talent out of Columbus but came up horrendously short with Gholston. He was supposed to make a major difference in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 set, namely through his edge-rushing abilities. Gholston, unfortunately, failed to record a single sack over three seasons in green before he was unceremoniously released in 2011. Among the Pro Bowlers passed in favor of Gholston were Jerod Mayo, Ryan Clady (who played his final season with the Jets in 2016), and Jonathan Stewart.

A pick obtained from the Packers (sending over their second and fourth-round picks) was far more lucrative, even if his NFL time was unfortunately cut short. Keller was a reliable target and for four seasons before injuries took over his career.

2013

  • CB Dee Milliner, Alabama (9th)
  • DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri (13th)

After a rocky rookie season, Milliner seemed to have some momentum going into his sophomore campaign with three interceptions over his final pair of games. Alas, he became another victim of the injury bug and wound up playing only eight more NFL games over the next two seasons.

The Jets didn’t miss out on much between Milliner and their pick obtained from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Darelle Revis, with Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker, and D.J Hayden going in that span. Richardson was the eventual honoree in the 13th slot and enjoyed some good gridiron memories before legal issues caused the Jets to seek out a trade. He narrowly beat out Buffalo’s Kiko Alonso for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award and also stands as the only defender in Jets history to earn two rushing scores (briefly lining up as a fullback in goal-line situations). Richardson was traded to Seattle in 2017 and is currently a free agent after wrapping up a two-year stint in Cleveland.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

New York Jets: The Greatest Backup QB Performances

tom tupa throwing a pass in a recent game against the patriots

With World Backup Day landing on March 31, ESM counts down the finest second-string performances in the history of the New York Jets.

March 31 has given rise to “World Backup Day”. The “holiday” was founded by Youngstown State University student Ismail Jadun and encourages backing up personal data and files on the day before April Fools’ Day.

Backup has a different meaning when it comes to NFL quarterbacks. Often looked upon as the guy in the baseball cap, the backup quarterback may one of the most underrated positions in the four major sports. You never know if and when your data could be erased in the blink of an eye. Quarterback issues are likewise unsympathetic to best-laid plans, necessitating backup and contingency in all walks of life.

The New York Jets are in desperate need of a backup quarterback to work with franchise man Sam Darnold. Their cornerstone has missed six games over the past two seasons, and the Jets have gone 0-6 in such contests. There have been other times, however, that the Jets have been better prepared….

https://youtu.be/rK3hunhB4VI?t=792

12/1/68: The Babe

This is a story about a quarterback that won the Super Bowl with the Jets in 1968, an AFL legend that partook in Gang Green’s finest hour. Of course, the thrower in question is…Babe Parilli.

Parilli made a name for himself as the quarterback of the American Football League’s Boston Patriots. While Parilli’s 3,465 yards and 31 touchdowns during Boston’s 1964 campaign may seem almost commonplace in today’s NFL, those marks stood as Patriot records until Tom Brady broke them during his historic 2007 tour.

Since Joe Namath sometimes had trouble finishing games, Parilli was brought in as his understudy in 1968. He would come up particularly big during the final weeks of the AFL season. Parilli’s play allowed the Jets to enter the postseason with a full-wave of momentum. A Houston Oilers loss on Thanksgiving gave the Jets the East Division title, leading to Namath taking the second half off in the final three games of the regular season. In the first, Parilli led a fourth quarter come against the Miami Dolphins at Shea Stadium, throwing three touchdowns in the frame (two to Don Maynard) in a 35-17 win. He would go on to throw a pass in Super Bowl III against Baltimore while relieving an ailing Namath and wound up with a ring after the Jets won the game 16-7.

Parilli played one more year with the Jets, once again in relief of Namath. He never started a game in New York, but, notably, the Jets won each of the ten games in which he partook.

11/15/70: L.A. Woodall

Reality quickly came for the Jets after their Super Bowl title. They earned another division title in 1969 but the bottom fell out in 1970 to the tune of a 4-10 record. Namath’s injuries (as well as a threatened retirement) had reached a breaking point by then, forcing them to find insurance in the form of second-round pick Al Woodall.

The Duke alumn mostly struggled as a Jets quarterback and was out of football by 1974. He did, however, earn one shining New York moment during a November visit to Los Angeles to battle the Rams. The Jets entered with a 1-7 mark but wound up shocking the City of Angels to the tune of a 31-20 victory. Woodall’s 261 yards and three touchdown passes wound up being his career-best and his efforts just might’ve cost Los Angeles a playoff spot. The Rams finished their season 9-4-1, one game behind San Francisco for the NFC West crown and a half-game behind Detroit for the NFC’s wild card.

Woodall was able to extend his 15 minutes of NFL fame as the win over Los Angeles began a three-game win streak. The other bookend of that streak was a 20-10 win over defending NFC champion Minnesota two weeks later.

9/12/99: Give ’em the Tup

After a surprise appearance in the AFC title game, expectations were high for the century-ending New York Jets. However, hopes of a return trip were immediately dashed at the onset of the season, when Vinny Testaverde went down without contact, suffering a torn Achilles during a Week 1 visit from the New England Patriots. For the Week 1 divisional tilt, head coach Bill Parcells made the unusual move of naming punter Tom Tupa the primary backup. Tupa was a college quarterback at Maryland, but he hadn’t thrown on a full-time basis in seven years. The choice put Parcells in an awkward spot: if Tupa was lifted from the game for emergency quarterback Rick Mirer prior to the fourth quarter, he could not come back in. To the shock of many at Giants Stadium…including the New England defense…Tupa’s first play from scrimmage resulted in a 25-yard touchdown pass to Keyshawn Johnson, one that gave the Jets the lead back.

From there on out, Parcells’ will to keep Tupa under center was tested by a relentless New England pass rush. Tupa was sacked three times and lost a fumble that was recovered by Willie McGinest in the end zone. But just as Mirer momentum was brewing, Tupa seemed to sway Parcells back his way every time. He would end up throwing another touchdown pass (this one from seven yards out to Fred Baxter) and had the Jets well in the ball game, which stood at a 27-22 New England lead entering the final quarter.

However, with the emergency caveats removed, Parcells fully entrusted the offense to Mirer. The Jets took the lead thanks to a pick-six from Brian Cox, but Mirer wound up throwing two interceptions, including one on the Jets’ final drive, that allowed the Patriots to escape East Rutherford with a 30-28 win. Tupa finished the game 6-of-10 for 165 yards and two scores.

EAST RUTHERFORD, UNITED STATES: New York Jets’ quarterback Ray Lucas (L) is chased out of the pocket by the Miami Dolphins’ Rich Owens (R) in the second quarter of their game at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey 12 December, 1999. AFP PHOTO/ Henny Ray ABRAMS (Photo credit should read HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP via Getty Images)

12/12/99: Feeling 22

There’s a reason you won’t see any antics from Mirer on this list. Parcells chose him to take over for Testaverde, but that faith was not rewarded. Mirer posted a mere 66.6 passer ratings over six starts, during which they went 2-4. With the team sitting at 2-6 and the playoffs an afterthought, Parcells turned the offensive reigns over to Ray Lucas.  The Harrison, NJ native was in the midst of building a respectable career as a backup after starring at Rutgers. Parcells gave him his first NFL chance, as the Tuna brought in the undrafted Lucas in as a backup quarterback during New England’s Super Bowl run in 1996. Lucas was one of several Parcells-related transfers to New York when the latter took the Jets’ job a year later.

Under Lucas, the Jets were able to gain back respectability, especially over an exhilarating December. The former Scarlet Knight led the Jets to three consecutive fourth quarter comebacks, starting with the erasure of a 13-6 deficit at The Meadowlands against the Dolphins. Lucas helped the Jets put up 22 unanswered points as they scored on each of their three full offensive possessions in the third. Two throws found their way to Johnson for scores, allowing the Jets to earn a 28-20 win over a Dolphins team contending for a playoff spot.

Lucas posted a 6-3 record as the Jets starter en route to an 8-8 campaign. He would earn another fourth quarter comeback win when the Jets visited Miami two weeks later, creating a sandwich yet another last-frame victory in Dallas.

12/2/12: Raising Arizona

This is the story about a Jets quarterback that came from the hallowed football ground of Tuscaloosa, Alabama and led Gang Green to a crucial victory.

The hero in this tale is, of course, Greg McElroy.

In December 2012, the Jets and Arizona Cardinals met in a game that set quarterbacking back decades. In NFL football, a quarterback could throw the ball an infinite number of times into the ground and still emerge with a comparatively sizable passer rating of 39.6. Somehow, starting quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Ryan Lindley both failed to beat 30. Neither eclipsed the century mark in yardage and combined to complete 20-of-52 passes. Arizona managed to earn just five first downs, but somehow nursed a slim 3-0 lead for a majority of the game.

With the Sanchez era in its dying acts, the Jets mercifully removed him for McElroy in the second half. The insertion of the former national champion and seventh-round pick drew cheers from a bored MetLife Stadium crowd. His statline was simple…a mere 5-of-7 for 29 yards…but he did what Sanchez could not: score. McElroy found tight end Jeff Cumberland for a one-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter, which was somehow enough to earn the Jets a 7-6 win and keep their playoff hopes alive for another week.

When the Jets were eliminated a week later, McElroy earned his first, and what became his only, career start. He was sacked 11 times in a loss to the San Diego Chargers, suffering concussion symptoms. He never partook in another regular season down in the NFL.

11/9/14: Vick Over Pitt

The 2014 New York Jets hoped to showcase the No. 7 of the future in Geno Smith.

They did get to show off a certain man with the numeral…albeit one from the past.

Michael Vick’s penultimate season with the Jets, albeit in the unfamiliar number of one. Vick was called upon to replace a struggling Smith with the Jets reeling at 1-6. The third and final game of his starting tenure produced a rare victory, as the Jets upset the 6-3 Pittsburgh Steelers by a 20-13 final at MetLife Stadium. Two touchdown passes from Vick, including a 67-yard bomb to T.J. Graham, allowed the Jets to jump out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. Vick also made history during the game by becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to break the rushing plateau of 6,000 yards.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags