New York Jets: Top 10 Draft Picks Since the Year 2000: #5

Joe Klecko was one of the top draft picks in the history of the New York Jets.

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:

10. David Harris
09. Mark Sanchez
08. Laveranues Coles
07. Shaun Ellis
06. Chad Pennington

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?

LEON WASHINGTON

Nov 11, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Leon Washington (33) carries the ball against the New York Jets during the game at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated New York 28-7. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

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:

Rushing
Year Team G Att Att/G Yds Avg Yds/G TD Lng 1st 1st% 20+ 40+ FUM
2012 Seattle Seahawks 16 23 1.4 83 3.6 5.2 1 14 3 13.0 0 0 0
2011 Seattle Seahawks 16 53 3.3 248 4.7 15.5 1 48T 8 15.1 3 1 0
2010 Seattle Seahawks 16 27 1.7 100 3.7 6.2 1 21 5 18.5 1 0 0
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
TOTAL 103 473 4.6 2,213 4.7 21.5 16 61 84 17.8 13 5 4

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:

Year Team G Ret Yds Avg Lng TD 20+ 40+ FC FUM
2012 Seattle Seahawks 16 27 784 29.0 98T 1 19 5 0 1
2011 Seattle Seahawks 16 43 1,084 25.2 54 0 33 4 0 0
2010 Seattle Seahawks 16 57 1,461 25.6 101T 3 34 7 0 2
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
TOTAL 103 244 6,315 25.9 101 8 161 29 0 5

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.

Topics: 2013 Nfl Draft, Leon Washington, New York Jets

Want more from The Jet Press?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.
  • matr dontelli iii

    i agree he belongs on the list, however i don’t think i would have hm ranked this high. i probably would rank him 8 with coles 9 and marky 10. had they not traded him i’d rank hm higher.

    • TheJetPress

      That’s fair Matr…..My list is certainly up for debate

  • Mehl81

    How can Sanchez be on this list?

    • TheJetPress

      sorry pete….I knew people would disagree with me about it but I feel he belongs. Take a look at my post on him, I talk about what he did the first 2 years to earn the spot.

      Not surprised with disagreement.

11 hours ago

New York Jets & Chris Johnson Agree on 2 Year Deal

15 hours ago

WR Brandon Coleman: Scouting the NFL Draft

22 hours ago

Chris Johnson: Not Ready to Make His Decision Yet