All-Time Lists

New York Jets: Top 5 best players drafted of all-time

By Mark Kelly
Apr 26, 2016, 8:57 AM EDT
Oct 25, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New York Jets center Nick Mangold (74) at the line of scrimmage during the first quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
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Oct 25, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New York Jets center Nick Mangold (74) at the line of scrimmage during the first quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets might not have had many memorable drafts but they do have a nice history of selecting some great athletes that made an immediate impact on the franchise.

In my look back at the history of the Jets, I will analyze the top five players ever drafted by Gang Green. By this I mean the player had to spend the majority of his career and post most of his numbers as a member of the Jets.

Related Story: Top 5 drafts of all-time for the New York Jets

Despite being around since 1960, the Jets have only one current player that is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after being drafted and spending the majority of his career with the Jets, so it’s not like the franchise has a plethora of legendary players to pick from.

In looking further, the Jets have drafted just one Pro Football Hall of Famer since the merger in 1970, John Riggins out of Kansas in 1971. Riggins spent just four seasons with the Jets, becoming the first player in team history to rush for 1,000 yards in 1975. Riggins then left the Jets to join the Washington Redskins, where he established himself as one of the best running backs in the NFL.

Without further ado, here are the top five all-time players to ever be drafted by the Jets.

Next: 5. A quarterback that loved making guarantees

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Jan 31, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New York Jets former quarterback Joe Namath on the red carpet prior to the NFL Honors award ceremony at Symphony Hall. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

 5. QB Joe Namath, Alabama, 1st overall, 1965 AFL Draft

Wait, the ONLY player to ever be drafted by the Jets and be voted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after spending the majority of his career with the team, is just the 5th best player ever drafted by them? How can this be? To be honest, Namath is lucky to be on this list at all, but he has been the face of the franchise since they drafted him No. 1 overall in 1965. Namath became the first quarterback in history to pass for 4,000 yards when he reached that total in 1967.

Looking at Namath’s overall numbers, there is no way he should be anywhere near the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He threw 47 more career interceptions than touchdowns and finished with a quarterback rating of just 65.5 (among Pro Football Hall of Famers, only Bobby Layne has a lower rating for just quarterbacks*).

Namath finished with a 62-63 record (.496 win percentage) as a starting quarterback. Among Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterbacks, only Sonny Jurgensen has a lower winning percentage (.69-73, .487). However, Namath was the starting quarterback in perhaps the most important football game in NFL history, as his Jets went on to defeat the mighty Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

Despite not throwing a touchdown pass, Namath helped the Jets control the ball for most of the game (he is the only quarterback to win Super Bowl MVP without throwing a touchdown pass), but his guarantee of the Jets success in the week leading up to the game, received most of the attention. Entering the game as 17-point underdogs, the Jets defeated the Colts 16-7, becoming the first AFL team to win the Super Bowl, thus solidifying the merger.

Appearing to have the best of his NFL career still ahead of him, Namath never won another postseason game as a starting quarterback, but remains the most popular player to ever play for the Jets, and the only starting quarterback to ever lead them to a Super Bowl.

*Bob Waterfield and George Blanda have lower quarterback ratings, but spent career as kickers as well.

Next: 4. The most all-around linebacker ever

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Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

4. LB Mo Lewis, Georgia, 63rd overall pick, 1991 NFL Draft

A three-time Pro Bowler and one time All-Pro in 1998, Lewis was arguably the best all-around linebacker to play for the green and white. His 200 games played ranks fourth in team history and are the second most by a linebacker behind Kyle Clifton.

His 52.5 sacks are the fourth most in team history and the most by a linebacker. Lewis forced 26 fumbles in his career, which is the most in team history, while his 13 fumble recoveries are the second most by a linebacker. His three postseason sacks are tied with Calvin Pace for the most in team history at the position. Lewis is also the only player on this list to be a member of both teams that have won the only AFC East titles in team history.

Next: 3. A cornerstone on the offensive line

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Nov 12, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets center Nick Mangold (74) in the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Bills defeated the Jets 22-17 Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

3. C Nick Mangold, Ohio State, 29th overall pick, 2006 NFL Draft

After finishing 4-12 in 2005, the Jets knew they had to rebuild their offensive line in the 2006 NFL Draft. Mangold was the second of the Jets first round picks that season (D’Brickashaw Ferguson, an offensive tackle out of Virginia, was taken fourth overall) drafted to achieve that goal.

Mangold is currently entering his ninth season as the Jets’ starting center. In 2009, Mangold helped lead the way as the Jets ran for an NFL best 172 yards per game. He has twice been named an NFL All-Pro (2009-10) and five times to the Pro Bowl team (2008-11, 2013), and his peers rank him as one of the best offensive lineman in the NFL.

Next: 2. A key member of the New York Sack Exchange

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Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

2. DT Joe Klecko, Temple, 144th overall pick, 1977 NFL Draft

One of the most popular players ever drafted by the Jets, Joe Klecko became a key member of the Jets “Sack Exchange” which chased quarterback all over the NFL from 1979-1983. Many fellow defensive linemen, including Pro Football Hall of Famer Howie Long, mention that if not for missing some games due to injury, Klecko would be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as well.

Klecko left the Jets after the 1987 season, finishing his NFL career in 1988 with the Indianapolis Colts. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, he is the only player in NFL history to be named a starter at three different positions (DE, DT and NT). Klecko was also named an All-Pro twice (1981 and 1985) and is one of just five players to have their number retired by the Jets.

Next: 1. This cornerback has his own island

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Dec 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets corner back Darrelle Revis (24) warms up before a game against the Tennessee Titans at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

1.  CB Darrelle Revis, Pittsburgh, 14th overall pick, 2007 NFL Draft

Revis is currently entering his 10th NFL season, the first six and last year having been spent with the Jets. Almost certain to become the second Pro Football Hall of Famer to be drafted and spend the majority of his career with the Jets, Revis is one of the best to ever play the position.

Revis career interception totals are low (only 28 – 24 with Jets) because most quarterbacks chose to not even throw the ball to his side of the field. More than often than not Revis would eliminate the best wide receiver on the opposing team with ease and precision. In 2009, Revis routinely held wide receivers to their season-low in catches and yards, players such as Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, Steve Smith, Marques Colston, Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson and Reggie Wayne.

Revis injured his ACL two games into the 2012 season, ending his season and unfortunately his first go around with the Jets. After being traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during John Idzik’s tenure and making his fifth Pro Bowl, Revis was released and won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots in 2014, where he made his sixth Pro Bowl and earned his fourth All-Pro selection.

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When owner Woody Johnson hired Mike Maccagnan as general manager and Todd Bowles as head coach in the 2015 offseason, Revis was brought back and rewarded the Jets with his seventh Pro Bowl appearance along with being a stabilizing force in their defensive secondary. Despite losing a step, Revis is still one of most feared defensive backs in the game and no doubt will one day see his name in the halls of Canton, Ohio.

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