First thing’s first… the New York Jets do not draft well. Here are the top ten draft busts of all-time in franchise history.
I think about this topic every year and the list seems to be ever growing. Which draft pick this year are we going to add to our list of busts? Who is going to flash for a couple games and then disappear somewhere into one of those nebula things in outer space, never to be seen or heard from again? Or, this is really my personal favorite, who are we going to overdraft into the New York Jets?
Before we begin I have to state this list is completely subjective. I also must note I tried to stay fairly recent, my oldest draft pick is from 1980. I wanted to try and keep this list as relatable as possible.
One more thing, Mark Sanchez is NOT a bust. I understand the wheels came off a couple of years in, but the man did play quarterback on two AFC championship teams. Like it or not, he is one of the most successful QBs in our team’s history (let that one sink in). Okay, let’s begin.
10. QB Kellen Clemens
2006, Round 2, 49th Overall
This may seem like a reach for this list, but the way I look at it Kellen is a great way to start off. Chad Pennington was the starter in New York, however as we know his right shoulder was having a hard time cooperating. Although Pennington made it through the 2006 season unscathed and made the playoffs, leading us to a 10-6 record, we got bounced in the wild card by our best friend Tom Brady.
Clemens ended up starting eight games in 2007, because of both injuries and ineffectiveness from the incumbent Pennington. It did not go well. He finished the year with 5 TDs, 10 INTs, and barely completing 50 percent of his passes.
To be completely fair, he has found a niche in the NFL as a competent backup. I just don’t feel that is what he was drafted to be. It is very possible he fell victim to the train wreck that the 2007 season ended up being, however, the pre-draft reports were not too kind. While he was labeled as a capable passer who improved every year, he was never viewed as a player capable of carrying a team and was always going to be a reach in the second round.
Next: 9. Stephen Hill
9. WR Stephen Hill
2012, Round 2, 43rd Overall
Stephen Hill did absolutely NOTHING at Georgia Tech. Yes, in his third year he did catch 29 receptions for 820 yards and 5 TDs, but a catch average of almost thirty yards implies all he was doing was running straight as fast as he can and catching the ball.
The most obvious thing that came to mind for me was the hope he was going to turn into the next Calvin Johnson or Demaryius Thomas (hint: he didn’t). His raw measurables were admittedly impressive, but should you base a second-round pick on sheer talent with limited production?
I could have looked past this if not for him “winning” a starting spot immediately and promptly scoring two touchdowns. After this, however, is where the fun stops. Between injuries, ineffectiveness, and lack of NFL ability, he just disappeared. Bottom line? He was not an NFL level receiver and even the limited opportunities he received were too many.
Next: 8. Blair Thomas
8. RB Blair Thomas
1990, Round 1, 2nd Overall
Drafting a Penn State running back and him turning into a bust is a tale as old as time, and Mr. Blair Thomas here was one of the originators. I understand most lists of this type would have him much higher, but hear me out.
532 attempts, 2755 yards, 16 touchdowns. That works out to a 5.2 yard per carry average in his final two years at Penn State, a national powerhouse. Feelings about that regime aside, those numbers normally would scream STUD. There was not a scout in the world who did not think he was a top-tier talent. Oh yeah, he also won the Heisman Trophy.
Between injuries and, well, ineffectiveness, Thomas only lasted 4 years on the Jets and ran for a measly 5 TDs. I, personally, just can’t put him higher based on pre-draft reports. Any team would have drafted him high, and he would have probably busted for any one of them.
There’s also the chance it was just because he was drafted by the Jets because of course.
Next: 7. Roger Vick
7. FB Roger Vick
1987, Round 1, 21st Overall
The Jets really needed a fullback and you know when the perfect time to draft one is? 21st overall apparently. I really think that needs repeating… the Jets drafted a fullback 27th overall. Yeah, talk about making a dire mistake.
His 1,231 yards and 9 touchdowns over his three year Pro Football Hall of Fame career were not exactly what we were looking for, and two years later he was out of the league.
I don’t really have much else to say about this pick except reminding you again that the Jets drafted a fullback in the first round.
Next: 6. Kyle Brady
6. TE Kyle Brady
1995, Round 1, 9th Overall
I actually like Kyle Brady. He had a perfectly serviceable NFL career and lasted a while, way longer than most would have expected looking at his Jets years, but no. His own mediocre play along with circumstances out of his control mark him for my list, and being here is very, very important. This was another Penn State product that was not going to work out.
Does anyone else remember this draft? Usually I would say I don’t, I was only ten years old, however, it’s a hard one to forget. Our fans were STOKED when our pick came up, you know why? Warren Sapp was available! Pretty sweet, right? Anonymous reports that had no absolutely no proof came about the night before the draft, however, and teams seemed to be worried Mr. Sapp had a drug problem. He slipped to the Bucs at 12 and, well, you know the rest. Shucks.
Next: 5. Lam Jones
5. WR Lam Jones
1980, Round 1, 2nd Overall
When you look at his pure numbers,138 receptions and 13 touchdowns in five years, it doesn’t really seem so bad. Maybe that isn’t what you would want out of a top draft pick, but it could be justified. After all, Lam Jones was an Olympic caliber sprinter who could beat anyone over the top.
The problem? First was the issue of the dropsies. As one may assume, being able to catch the ball is a pretty big deal for a wide receiver and this gentleman was not very good at that. Second, and probably more important, is we traded two first-round picks for the privilege to draft him. Draft capital is incredibly important, always has been, so here we are.
Mediocre output while costing us an extra first round pick will get you a tough label. To be fair, we may have had a tough time nailing either of the two picks if we had kept them, but this is a time for complaining not stating the obvious. On to No. 4.
Next: 4. Browning Nagle
4. QB Browning Nagle
1991, Round 2, 34th Overall
Well, well, well. If it isn’t the Nuke Laloosh of football himself. Of course he would end up on the Jets.
Seriously, though, this pick was made because Brett Favre has just gone off the board and the Jets needed a quarterback. Ron Wolfe, our director of player personnel, was in love with Favre but was not able to make it happen (further proved by the trade he made the next year with the Falcons when he took over as GM of the Packers).
Despite the fact that he rarely had any idea where the ball was going when he threw it, he did manage the throw seven TDs in his Jets career. The problem? Those seven TDs came with 17 INTs. For those new to the game, that’s not a good ratio. The icing on the cake was his below 50 percent completion rate and 3-10 record as a Jets starter. Thanks for the memories!
Next: 3. Dee Milliner
3. CB Dee Milliner
2013, Round 1, 9th Overall
What do you get when you add up widespread injury concerns, five documented college surgeries, and a pressing need in the secondary with Darrelle Revis no longer with us? Well, this. This is what you get.
Milliner had draft bust written all over him by analysts and draft gurus but that didn’t phase the Jets. They took a shot with him only to end up regretting it for years to come.
Not only did the Jets drop the ball here but they passed on other players that could have finally brought some top-tier talent to the organization, especially someone that consistently played on the gridiron.
Milliner was hardly on the field and was terrible when he did make it there. Moving on!
Next: 2. Vernon Gholston
2. DE Vernon Gholston
2008, Round 1, 6th Overall
Vernon truly was what you would expect to see if you created a pass rusher in a lab. His NFL Combine numbers? Well, here. You can read his pre-draft profile along with his video game attributes. It’s silly how athletic he was.
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What was the problem, you ask? He only had one true year of real college production and no one seemed to see him as a top 10 pick.
So, of course, this means the Jets would take him with the No. 6 overall pick. The Jets were hoping to land such a beast of a defensive end that they hoped he could turn into a household name faster than a New York minute.
Needless to say, a pass rusher who is able to actually rush the passer is what they were looking for essentially. What did they get? Zero sacks. Not a single one. The answer to our pass rushing problems ended his career with zero sacks. Probably can’t get worse, right?
Next: 1. Dewayne Robertson
1. DT Dewayne Robertson
2003, Round 1, 4th Overall
I’m going to cut directly to the chase here. We drafted a guy from Kentucky 4th overall who had a bone on bone condition in one of his knees, AND we traded two first round picks to be able to do it.
Was Dewayne Robertson a serviceable player? Sure. I’ve seen much, much worse players play (see No. 2, for example). The problem I had was with the cost.
“That’s such a JETS thing to do!” is a popular line I hear a lot when we do something stupid. Most of the time it’s probably a little overblown, but what was the rationale here? Was he going to magically grow cartilage? Maybe the doctors were going to throw some tissues in there and hope for the best? Just baffles me to this very day.
I do understand that this was not all on the player because of the preexisting condition, but come on. This really was such a Jets thing to do as Robertson ends up being the biggest draft bust in Jets history.