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NFL.com Chooses the Jets’ Best Draft Class of All Time

By Alan Schechter
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Apr 25, 2013; New York, NY, USA; A general view of the NFL shield logo and main stage before the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL Draft, and the lead up to it, finally nearly to the end, the NFL has decided to take a look back. The “Around the League Live” team from the website took a look at each team in the league, and made their choice as to the top draft class in the team’s history.

For the Jets, here is the noted class and some thoughts behind it:

New York Jets

Round

Pick

Player

Position

Games

Pro Bowl

Misc

6

144

Joe Klecko

DT

155

4

Integral part of “New York Sack Exchange”

1

4

Art Powell

OT

133

5

Ex-President of NFLPA, 5-time Pro Bowl

2

33

Wesley Walker

WR

154

2

Led NFL in receiving yards, 1978

8

200

Dan Alexander

G

192

0

13-year starter

4

90

Scott Dierking

RB

110

0

Succeeded John Riggins as starter

7

195

Kevin Long

FB

73

0

Led Jets in rushing, 1978

9

227

Matt Robinson

QB

69

0

Jets‘ starting QB, 1978

10

256

John Hennessy

LB

46

0

18-game starter over 3 seasons

If the 1964 and 1965 drafts were combined into one mega class, they would be the runaway winners for the Jets. Without those two drafts featuring Joe Namath, running back Matt Snell and defensive ends Gerry Philbin and Verlon Biggs, there would have been no Super Bowl III “guarantee” and subsequent upset over the heavily-favored Colts.

In other words, the NFL-AFL merger would have gone down quite differently.

The 1977 class helped the Jets reach the playoffs four times, including the 1982 AFC Championship Game.

One of three Jets players (Joe Namath, Don Maynard) to have his number retired, the versatile Klecko was a key member of the famed “New York Sack Exchange” defensive line that generated 66 sacks in 1981.

In addition to being one of the most decorated linemen in Jets history, Powell wrote a newspaper column and was elected president of the NFLPA during his playing days. A career Jet, Walker remains second only to Maynard on many of the franchise receiving records.

The ’77 group also produced a 13-year starter, the backfield tandem that succeeded John Riggins and the 1978 starter at quarterback.

Fun fact: Klecko is the only player to be named to the Pro Bowl at three different positions (defensive end, defensive tackle and nose tackle).

So, what do we think about the choice? We liked it, as we highlighted the choices from 1977 in our piece here.  Wesley Walker and Joe Klecko make it very difficult to not like this class.  I believe they put a bit more value in the Scott Dierkings of the world than I do, but it was a good group.

As we talked about yesterday, I might value the 2006 draft just a bit more, due to the longevity and the versatility of the players throughout that draft.

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