All-Time Lists

Top 10 defensive backs of all time for the Jets

By Jason Rodriguez
Dec 25, 2016, 8:35 AM EST
Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) looks on from the sidelines against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) looks on from the sidelines against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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new york jets

Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) looks on from the sidelines against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Who were the best defensive backs to ever play for the New York Jets? Here are the top 10 of all-time to ever wear the green and white.

The New York Jets have had many defensive backs come and go but only these top ten stood out from the pack when considered for the all-time best at their position.

The defensive back position is one that is overlooked but with football being a game of inches, a big stop can help change a game tremendously. The Jets have had many defensive backs come through the organization and even had some fantastic ones during the years. This is a tribute to some of the most unsung heroes of the Jets that made the key stops when they needed to.

In order to qualify as a defensive back on this list, you have had to have played at least two or more seasons with the Jets. These top defensive backs helped the Jets tremendously with the great field positioning thanks to doing what they did best.

Without further ado, here are the top ten defensive backs of all time for the Jets.

Next: 10. Steve Tannen

Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets logo prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

10. Steve Tannen

Tannen was recognized as an All-American and a former first-round draft pick from the 1970’s. Unlike most players, Tannen has played his entire career with Gang Green. He was a two-sport athlete with playing football, and he competed in track and field.

Tannen played his collegiate football at the University of Florida where he played defensive back. He was a first-team All-American in 1969 and received the Ferguson award for outstanding leadership. He had eleven interceptions and led the team in punt return yardage.

He played for five seasons with the Jets from 1970 to 1974. He had an injury prone career in his first two seasons. With him suffering shoulder injuries, he managed to play thirteen games and led the team in interceptions.

Tannen played in 61 games and had twelve interceptions with 204 return yards. He also had a special part of his professional career playing part in special teams. He blocked two field goals and a punt.

Next: 9. Aaron Glenn

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new york jets

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

9. Aaron Glenn

Glenn is probably most known to the Jets family as one of the most physical, dominant and successful players. He played college football at Texas A&M University and currently is the secondary coach for the New Orleans Saints under head coach Sean Payton.

He was a three sports Letterman in high school in basketball, football and track. He first signed a letter for attending the university of Purdue but he first attended Navarro College in Texas. He registered 27 tackles, 13 passes defended and led the nation with a 19.2-yard punt average. He was inducted into the Texas A&M Sports Hall of Fame.

Glenn was selected by the Jets in the first round of the 1994 NFL Draft. He played eight seasons in the NFL from 1994 to 2001. In the 1996 season, Glenn set the team record for the longest interception with a 100-yard touchdown against the divisional rival Miami Dolphins.

Each year with the Jets his career numbers increased from the 1997 to 2000 season. He had 24 total interceptions with the Jets and to this day is remembered for his relentless aggression.

Next: 8. James Hasty

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new york jets

Oct 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; General view of a New York Jets helmet during the game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

8. James Hasty

Hasty was selected in the third round of the1988 NFL Draft (74th overall) by the Jets and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1997 and 1999. He started at the cornerback position at Washington University. He was known for his aggressive bump and run coverage.

He recorded five interceptions and three fumble recoveries along with 58 tackles in his rookie season. In his second season with the team, Hasty added another five interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and 63 tackles as a well as a touchdown.

During his seven years with the Jets, Hasty totaled 24 interceptions and 491 tackles. They did not record passes defended in his day, but if they did, the number would have been quite impressive.

He made opposing wide receivers play in a living nightmare for how tough he was against them. He added in ten quarterback sacks in his 13 seasons in the league. Hasty was the man with the plan in shutting down receiving threats.

For how important he was to the Jets at the time, it made him become the highest salaried defensive back in the NFL in 1993.

Next: 7. Bobby Jackson

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new york jets

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

7. Bobby Jackson

Jackson had a stellar career with 21 interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Jackson played his college career at Florida State University and in 1993 he was inducted into FSU Hall of Fame. He held the all-time interception record at Florida State, and he also held the single game punt return average of 45.3 yards per return.

Jackson was named the Jets defensive captain in the 1981 season. He also led the team in interceptions three other times. He was also named to the AFC all-rookie team as a starter. He was selected to the All-Time Jet Team as one of the top three corners in the franchise.

Jackson was named the defensive player of the week for his play in a game against the Minnesota Vikings. In the game, he had one interception and a fumble returned for a touchdown.

Next: 6. Ray Mickens

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new york jets

Oct 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; General view of a New York Jets helmet during the game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

6. Ray Mickens

Mickens entered the NFL after receiving All-American honors at Texas A&M university. Mickens was a two-sport athlete as he played football and ran on the track and field team. He had 162 tackles and nine interceptions for Texas A&M and finished his career 4th on A&M’s all-time passes defended list.

Mickens was drafted in the third-round by the Jets in the 1996 NFL draft. He played for the Jets from 1996 to 2004 and he only sat two games in his first eight NFL seasons. He tore his ACL before the start of the 2004 season. He built a reputation as one of the top nickel backs in the NFL and a very capable starter.

For his career with the Jets, Mickens registered 315 tackles, 37 passes defended, 11 interceptions, five forced fumbles, and six sacks. He went on to also play for the Cleveland Browns and the New England Patriots before he signed with the Jets again in 2006 but didn’t make the final starting roster before the season.

Prior to the 2005 season, he played in all 16 games, starting three and recording 33 tackles and 16 passes defended.

Next: 5. Bill Baird

Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets logo prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets logo prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets logo prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

5. Bill Baird

He played college football at San Francisco State University where he was a defensive back, a halfback, and a kick returner. He played for the Jets from 1963-1969. He, Jim Hudson, Randy Beverly, Johnny Sample completely shut down the Baltimore Colts passing game in Super Bowl III. Later he served as defensive backs coach for the Jets from 1981-1984.

He currently holds the record for the Jets for most interceptions by a member of the team with 34. Many Jets who were defensive backs have played longer careers and have fallen well short of that mark. He played in an era that wasn’t as pass heavy as it is today.

Many people will consider Baird as a legendary Jet for how hard he played in his career. When he was called upon, he handled kick returns just as well since it was hard to take him down.

With the good punt returns by Baird, it helped the Jets offense with good field positioning to begin their drives. He also played in an era where professional players still had to work in the offseason to supplement their salaries. Baird displayed that type of versatility, making him a true star.

Next: 4. Ty Law

4. Ty Law

Law was drafted by the Patriots as the 23rd overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft. Law is a two-time All-Pro, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, a Pro Bowl MVP and has won three Super Bowls. He had a career interceptions record of 53 which were ranked 22nd all-time in NFL history. He was added to the Patriots Hall of Fame as the 20th player.

In college, he had a three-year stint at the University of Michigan where he lettered every year. He earned his All-American honor in his junior year and was a two-time All-Big Ten Conference selection. He finished his collegiate career with 154 tackles, six interceptions, and 17 pass deflections.

When he signed with the Jets in 2005 he went on to have one of the best years in his career. He totaled a career-high 10 interceptions and was named to the Pro Bowl that season. Sure, he might not have had such a long career with the Jets but his tremendous impact that season made them competitive.

Next: 3. Antonio Cromartie

Jan 25, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback
Jan 25, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback

Antonio Cromartie (31) plays for Team Carter in the 2015 Pro Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports” width=”300″ height=”186″ /> Jan 25, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Antonio Cromartie (31) plays for Team Carter in the 2015 Pro Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

3. Antonio Cromartie

With the Jets, Cromartie totaled 13 interceptions and two forced fumbles in his tenure. Cromartie played his college career at Florida State and was always an impact player. Cromartie was a two-star athlete at Florida State where he ran track besides playing football.

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Cromartie was traded to the Jets in 2010 from the San Diego Chargers for a third round draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Cromartie had an up and down stint which made the Jets frustrated. He broke out in the wild card playoff game when he ran back a punt to set up for the game-winning field goal.

In 2012, when Revis went down for the year, Cromartie performed well finishing with three interceptions, 13 passes defended, and 30 tackles in all 16 games started.

After the 2013 season, he was elected as a Pro Bowl replacement which was the third selection of his career. Cromartie started to struggle and was eventually let go by the team in 2014.

Next: 2. Jim Leonhard

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new york jets

Dec 28, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cleveland Browns free safety Jim Leonhard (30) drives Baltimore Ravens tight end Owen Daniels (81) out of bounds during the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

2. Jim Leonhard

He is a former safety who played ten seasons in the NFL. Leonhard played quarterback in high school before moving to safety. Leonhard was the team captain his junior and senior year. He also made first team All-State which is a huge honor.

Leonhard was a walk-on football player at the University of Wisconsin and was noted for his speed, leaping ability, and sure tackling. He held the Big Ten conference career punt return yardage with 1,347. He had 21 total interceptions and made 281 tackles.

Leonhard signed with the Jets in 2009, and he reunited with former head coach Rex Ryan. In the 2009 season, Leonhard started all 16 games making 66 tackles, one interception, and a forced fumble. With his efforts, he helped lead the Jets to the NFL playoffs.

In 2010 and 2011 he, unfortunately, had injury prone seasons which limited him to play in many games for the Jets. In 2010 he played in 11 games making 56 tackles, one interception, and a forced fumble. That season they lost in the AFC championship game to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In 2011, Leonhard landed weird after catching an interception thrown by the Kansas City Chiefs. He was carted off and suffered a torn patella tendon from that injury as he was done for the rest of the season. Now he is retired and is a secondary’s coach at the University of Wisconsin.

Next: 1. Darelle Revis

new york jets
new york jets

Oct 23, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) on the sideline during the second half against Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium. The New York Jets defeated the Baltimore Ravens 24-16.Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

1. Darrelle Revis

Revis was selected by the Jets in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft. His spot on the field is nicknamed Revis Island, a phrase Revis has trademarked for his ability to shut down the opposing number one receiver. By 2010 he was considered one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.

While attending the University of Pittsburgh he earned first-team freshman All-America honors in 2004. His best game was when he faced off against the Mountaineers and had a late game interception.

He was very impressive with his man and zone coverage techniques and his ability to play the run.  Revis contributed right away when he was drafted by the Jets. He ended his rookie season with 87 total tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, and three interceptions.

Next: Top 5 quarterbacks of all-time for the Jets

He made opposing receivers a day a nightmare they would want to forget due to their inability to do much of anything against him. Most quarterbacks refused to throw the football to his side of the field. He is a guaranteed first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer and will more than likely go down in franchise history as the greatest to ever play at cornerback.

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