2020 NFL Draft: Jets greatest picks, values, whiffs

Ferguson selected by New York Jets in 2006 NFL Draft in New York
D’Brickashaw Ferguson. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

The New York Jets and their fans certainly have an inconsistent relationship with the NFL Draft. 

Recent years have been kind to them, featuring the acquisitions of Sam Darnold and Jamal Adams. But most of the time, they’ve had issues making the right picks. 

As the 2020 NFL Draft begins Thursday night (8 p.m. ET, ESPN), we take a look back at some of the Jets’ best picks, values, and worst misses during the selection process:

Greatest picks
1964- Matt Snell, FB, Ohio State, 1st round, pick #3 (AFL Draft): Ranking fourth on the Jets’ all-time rushing list, Snell was the hero of Super Bowl III with 121 yards and a touchdown.

1965- Joe Namath, QB, Alabama, 1st round, pick #1 (AFL Draft): The greatest quarterback in franchise history whose exploits on and off the field need no more explanation. The Jets still have not had a franchise quarterback since then, unless Darnold proves to be the man.

1977- Wesley Walker, WR, California, 2nd round, pick #33: Walker played his entire 13-year career with the Jets, ranking second only behind Don Maynard in receiving yards. His 19 yards per catch is a franchise record.

1979- Mark Gastineau, DE, Arizona State, 2nd round, pick #41: The greatest pass-rusher in franchise history, Gastineau put together a monstrous two-year stretch of 41 combined sacks, including a previous NFL-record 22 in 1984. 

1981- Freeman McNeil, RB, UCLA, 1st round, pick #3: Only Curtis Martin has more rushing yards as a Jet than Freeman McNeil, who spent 12 years with the team. 

1985- Al Toon, WR, Wisconsin 1st round, pick #10: Toon ranks fourth in franchise history in receiving yards and is a three-time Pro Bowler.

2006- D’Brickashaw Ferguson, OT, Virginia, 1st round, pick #4: Offensive linemen are the sexiest picks, but the 2006 draft was a great one for the Jets. Ferguson played and started every game during his 10-year career and made three Pro Bowls. 

2006- Nick Mangold, C, Ohio State, 1st round, pick #29: Mangold had big shoes to fill, stepping in for Hall-of-Famer Kevin Mawae. But he did just that, spending 11 years with the team and garnering seven Pro Bowl selections. 

2007- Darrelle Revis, CB, Pittsburgh 1st round, pick #14: Revis Island was the worst place to be if you were a wide receiver. The Jets’ all-time leader in passes defended (112) ranks third in team history with 25 interceptions.

Best value picks (3rd round or later)
1964- Gerry Philbin, DE, Buffalo, 3rd round, pick #19 (AFL Draft): Philbin was one of the Jets’ best defensive players on their Super Bowl III team. He is a two-time AFL All-Star, a Super Bowl champ, and a member of the AFL’s All-Time Team.

1966- Emerson Boozer, RB, Mid-Eastern Shore, 6th round, pick #46 (AFL Draft): Boozer ranks second in franchise history with 52 rushing touchdowns and third 5,135 rushing yards.

1967- Randy Rasmussen, OG, Nebraska-Kearney, 12th round, pick #302: Rasmussen played his entire 15-year career with the Jets and ranks second with 207 games played.

1977- Joe Klecko, DL, Temple, 6th round, pick #144: Alongside Gastineau, Klecko was a feared member of the “New York Sack Exchange.” He spent 11 years with the team, including a 1981 season that saw him rack up 20.5 sacks — a record that was broken by Gastineau.

Biggest whiffs
1980- Needing a wide receiver, the Jets selected Lam Jones at No. 2 out of Texas. He spent five years in the NFL, posting 2,322 yards and 13 touchdowns. The next wide receiver taken in the draft was Hall-of-Famer Art Monk at No. 18.

1983- Ken O’Brien was one of the better quarterbacks in Jets franchise history, but there’s no comparison to Dan Marino, the Dolphins’ Hall-of-Famer who is one of the greatest passers in NFL history. He was taken three picks after Gang Green’s selection at No. 24.

1985- Al Toon is one of the greatest Jets receivers in franchise history, but again, the Jets missed an opportunity at nabbing one of the greatest of all-time. Six picks after Toon was taken at No. 10, the San Francisco 49ers took Jerry Rice.

1990- Blair Thomas never lived up to the expectations that came when he was taken No. 2 out of Penn State, lasting only four years with the Jets. Fifteen picks later, the Dallas Cowboys took Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.

1995- Behavioral concerns about Miami defensive lineman Warren Sapp just hours before the draft saw his stock take a hit. So instead of drafting the future Hall of Famer, the Jets took tight end, Kyle Brady, with the No. 9 pick of the draft. Sapp was taken three picks later by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

2000- Chad Pennington came out of Marshall and developed into one of the Jets’ best quarterbacks of the past 30 years with the 18th pick of the draft. But he’s no Tom Brady, who everyone passed on that year. He was taken 199th overall by the Patriots out of Michigan.