Jets Draft: Ranking best and worst 1st round picks over the last decade

Jets draft picks: best and the worst
Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Willams was arrested at LaGuardia Airport for allegedly trying to board a flight with a handgun Thursday night. (Photo via Wikimedia)
Wikimedia Commons

The Jets and the first round of the NFL Draft. Those two things haven’t gone very well together over the course of the last few decades. Of course, that’s why New York’s playoff drought has extended to over a decade. 

With so much futility over the years, it’s hard to pinpoints the selections that simply set the franchise back, or were merely bumps in the road to bigger problems within the organiztion. Not all selections were missed though! And with that, we take a dive over the last decade to see which of the draft selections in the first round have been hits, and which have been clear whiffs. 

Best Pick: Quinnen Williams

Quinnen Williams is far and away the best first round selection the Jets have made since the Darrelle Revis selection in 2007. A first team All-Pro selection last season, the former Alabama product recorded over 10 sacks as an interior defensive lineman – unheard of at the tackle position. The third overall pick in 2019 was the first building block that could be a major turning point in the history of the Jets franchise. While both the player and team are in discussions on a long-term contract extension, there can be no doubt that Gang Green is only as good as their best player and Williams is certainly the top dog in the clubhouse now. 

Worst Pick: Dee Milliner

The first reason Milliner was a horrific pick for the Jets for multiple reasons but the largest being that they traded future Hall-of-Famer Darrelle Revis months before. Missing on a top-10 pick is the quickest way to become a very bad franchise and that was shown with the Milliner pick. The ninth overall selection out of Alabama played just three seasons with New York with injuries and poor play derailing his time in Florham Park. The secondary shortly suffered due to his draft whiff and it forced them to overcompensate by overpaying for Revis again a second time around. 

Sleeper Pick: Garrett Wilson

Sauce Gardner is the top player considered drafted by the Jets last season. Garrett Wilson wasn’t that far off either. The former Ohio State product and 10th overall selection set franchise records in rookie receiving yards and catches. In short, hitting on Wilson allows the Jets to have a top target that any quarterback would want to play and grow with. While the quarterback position has yet to be solved, having a number one receiver on your roster is a key step to becoming a true contender in the modern NFL. 

Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson grabs a pass in front of Dolphins safety Jevon Holland.
Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson grabs a pass in front of Dolphins safety Jevon Holland.AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

The “What could have been” pick: Sam Darnold

Some teams draft bad quarterbacks, other teams don’t know how to develop good ones, and then there are those who don’t know how to do either. Over the last 50 years, the Jets are the latter. While Sam Darnold and Zach Wilson haven’t showed much throughout their NFL careers, poor starts usually derail promising college athletes and ruin their confidence so much that they aren’t able to recover. That’s at least what happened with the third overall pick out of USC. The Jets surrounded Sam Darnold with very little offensive resources, poor offensive linemen, and even worse coaching. There are few All-Pro quarterbacks who could be able to turn around bad franchises when they don’t have either of the big three. Darnold never really got a fair chance to show he could win with good talent around him and that falls solely on the former leadership of the New York Jets. 

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