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NY Jets: The 3 best pass-catching running backs in franchise history

Freeman McNeil, NY Jets
Freeman McNeil, NY Jets / Focus On Sport/Getty Images
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Freeman McNeil, NY Jets
Freeman McNeil, NY Jets / Focus On Sport/Getty Images

1. Freeman McNeil, RB, NY Jets

Freeman McNeil was drafted as the third overall pick in the 1981 NFL Draft by the Jets. He played his college football at UCLA and over the course of four seasons was not only an outstanding ball carrier but he also caught 36 passes for 366 yards and averaged an impressive 10.2 yards per catch.

The former Bruins funning back played his entire 12-year career with the Jets from 1981 to 1992. Due to the evolution of free agency in the NFL, it is almost unheard of nowadays for a player to spend his entire career with just one team.

McNeil was selected to the Pro Bowl three times and, in 1982, was the NFL's rushing leader during the strike-shortened season. He was a versatile and complete running back who not only possessed great hands but also had the ability to gain extra yardage after the catch.

The Jackson, Mississippi native ended his Jets career with 295 receptions for 2,961 yards. Combined with his 8,074 rushing yards, the well-rounded McNeil accumulated 11,035 all-purpose yards while with the Jets.

McNeil earns the top spot overall because of his outstanding yards per catch average of 10.0 to go along with his 12 touchdown receptions. McNeil also compiled another 17 receptions for 116 yards in eight playoff games as well.

Freeman McNeil quietly established himself as one of the finest running backs in Jets history, but has always seemed to fly under the radar in terms of recognition. McNeil was a fierce competitor who always fought for extra yardage.

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McNeil was inducted into the NY Jets Ring of Honor in 2011 and is arguably one of the best running backs in NFL history to not be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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