Since the 2016 NFL Draft, the NY Jets have made 10 first-round selections. Some of these draft picks have been all-pro caliber players, some injury-riddled, and some never seemed to hit their stride.
The team has drafted two quarterbacks, two offensive linemen, two defensive linemen, two defensive backs, a wide receiver, and a linebacker.
On Twitter, I saw a post to grade the NY Jets' last 10 first-round picks, and I thought about how diverse those picks are. In order, the last 10 first-rounders have been Darron Lee, Jamal Adams, Sam Darnold, Quinnen Williams, Mekhi Becton, Zach Wilson, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, and Jermaine Johnson.
Below is a list of my grades for the picks based on tenure with the Jets, their impact on the team, the nominations and awards they received, and what they meant to the franchise. Some players may even have contributed to the Jets after they left the franchise. Let's dive right in!
2016, 20th overall: Darron Lee, LB, NY Jets
Lee was a quality college player for Ohio State, tallying 146 tackles, 27 TFL's and 11 sacks in two seasons with the Buckeyes. He displayed a knack for big plays, with three interceptions and three forced fumbles as well.
Lee seemed to fit what the Jets wanted; a quick twitch rusher who could make plays with his speed at multiple levels for the defense.
The ability never materialized. He was too slow to play linebacker full-time and too small to rush the passer at the pro level consistently. In three seasons with the Jets, Lee amassed 241 tackles, 17 TFL's and four sacks. He played a majority of his time as a middle linebacker which he never seemed to really adjust to.
Following the 2018 season, when Lee was suspended, he was traded to Kansas City, where he spent a season, was suspended again, picked up by Buffalo for the 2020 season, and has not been on an NFL roster since 2021.
There was not a ton of talent later in the round, although the following picks included valuable contributors such as Will Fuller, Emmanuel Ogbah, Chris Jones, and Xavien Howard, all taken between picks 21 and 38.