Where are they now: Jonathan Vilma

By Marc A. Greenberg

This week, The Jet Press looks back at former LB Jonathan Vilma, a member of the New York Jets from 2005-2007.

Drafted by the New York Jets 12th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami, Jonathan Vilma set his mark on the league with his tackling ability. (See Below for News on 2004 NFL Draft).

In 2005, Vilma led the NFL in tackles with 169, followed by 114 in 2006.

2007 however, saw injury to Vilma; and concern to the Jets. Suffering a season ending knee injury during the Jets week 7 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Vilma would never play for the Jets again.

On February 29, 2008 the Jets traded Vilma to the New Orleans Saints for a 4th round draft pick in the 2008 NFL Draft (Dwight Lowery) and a conditional pick in the 2009 NFL Draft (ultimately Shonn Greene after a trade with the Detroit Lions). Credit Head coach Eric Mangini for seeing promise and health in newcomer David Harris.

On to the Saints where Vilma and his tackling ability re-surfaced. In his first season with the Saints, Vilma played in all 16 games and recorded 132 tackles.

In 2009, Vilma would go on to sign a 5 year, 34 million dollar contract with the Saints.

But that wouldn’t be the only highlight in New Orleans.  On February 7, 2010, Vilma and the New Orleans Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts to become Super Bowl XLIV Champions.  Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams would credit Vilma with outwitting Peyton Manning by audibling the Saints at least 20 times to the right defense.  As for the 2004 Draft:

2004 was a great draft with many stars of the NFL picked

Round 1: Pick 11 – Ben Roethlisberger (PITT), 12. Jonathan Vilma NYJ), 21. Vince Wilfork (NE), 24. Steven Jackson (STL)

Round 2: Pick 44. Bob Sanders (IND)

Round 3: Pick 90. Matt Schaub (ATL)

Round 4: Pick 110. Nathan Vasher (CHI), 126. Jared Allen (KC)

Round 5: Pick 154. Michael Turner (SD)

Undrafted: Wes Welker (SD), Willie Parker (PITT)