Joe Klecko(pictured), is a player that made a mark on the Jets for a long time, after being drafted in 1977. As a guy that made the Pro Bowl at 3 different positions, it’s frankly quite troubling that he isn’t already in the hall of fame. There is no doubt that he would be on this list if we were talking about the 1970’s.
But, we are working on the most recent years. As John Idzik and company continue to prepare for April 25th and the start of the 2013 NFL draft, we continue to look back. Specifically, we are counting down the 10 best draft picks by the Jets since the year 2000. Through all of the draft blunders through those years, there are enough diamonds in the rough that were chosen that we do have a complete list. Here is the list so far:
Now, for the number 5th choice. This player was chosen later in the draft, after a couple of prominent players were already chosen. For #5, we are going back to 2006, the same draft that yielded Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Today’s choice was picked by New York in the 4th round, with the 117th overall selection. He played for Florida State, and became one of the more versatile Jets as a running back, catching the football, and making most of his noise running back kicks. His name?
At 5’8″, 203 pounds, Leon Washington is not your typical NFL-sized running back, but Leon proved that good things come in small packages. With his speed and ability to make plays in space, he was the perfect change of pace to Thomas Jones. Take a look at his stats as a running back:
|2009||New York Jets||7||72||10.3||331||4.6||47.3||0||33||9||12.5||2||0||1|
|2008||New York Jets||16||76||4.8||448||5.9||28.0||6||61T||14||18.4||3||3||1|
|2007||New York Jets||16||71||4.4||353||5.0||22.1||3||49||12||16.9||2||1||1|
|2006||New York Jets||16||151||9.4||650||4.3||40.6||4||23||33||21.9||2||0||1|
Like I said, good things come in small packages. As a running back, Leon never averaged less than 4.3 yards per carry while with the Jets. With Thomas Jones as more of a power back, Leon was the perfect change of pace. Leon was a huge part of why the running game was successful, and he would have continued as part of the number 1 running attack in 2009, had he not gone through his unfortunate injury.
His biggest impact, however, was as a kickoff returner. Washington took the job over from Justin Miller, who was a successful return man in his own right. Leon took the reigns and showed why the Jets were always at or near the top in special teams. Take a look:
|2009||New York Jets||7||16||385||24.1||43||0||11||2||0||0|
|2008||New York Jets||16||48||1,231||25.6||94||1||28||6||0||0|
|2007||New York Jets||16||47||1,291||27.5||98T||3||35||5||0||2|
|2006||New York Jets||16||6||79||13.2||23||0||1||0||0||0|
3 TD returns in one year is pretty special I would say. Leon was explosive, until his career with the Jets was derailed by his broken leg in 2009.
We all wish that the Jets had kept him around long term, but I know, as a fan favorite, most of us save part of our rooting interest for him, and hope he has a great career, except when he plays against the Jets.
Here are some highlights from Leon’s days in the Green and White:
To me, an obvious choice for our list, Leon Washington.