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New York Jets: Ten years of lousy first-round draft picks

New York Jets

The New York Jets are looking to right the ship and start winning football games again after going 70-90 over the last ten seasons. After firing head coach Todd Bowles, the team has hired Adam Gase to lead the change.

The New York Jets have drafted only four Pro-Bowlers over the last ten National Football League drafts. Of the four, none have made more than one trip to the NFL’s all-star game. To build a winning franchise, you have to be successful in drafting players in the league’s annual draft. Some of these names will be hard for Jets fans to see, but let’s look back at New York’s last ten first round picks.

2009 | QB Mark Sanchez | 5th overall

Named Mark “Sanchize” Sanchez by then head coach Rex Ryan, Sanchez was supposed to be the next Joe Namath. Sanchez, along with the league’s 1st and 6th ranked defenses, took New York to the AFC Championship game in 2009 & 2010. After 2010 though, the Jets went 14-18 missing the playoffs both years. He finished his Jets career with a 33-29 record, 71.1 quarterback rating and a 55.1 completion percentage. Sanchez’ most notable moment as a Jet was his infamous butt fumble against the New England Patriots in 2012.

Pro-Bowlers: 0

2010 | DB Kyle Wilson | 29th overall

Kyle Wilson was drafted to play alongside future Hall of Famer Darrell Revis for the foreseeable future. Wilson only played for the Jets for five seasons and pulled in just 3 interceptions. To add to the pain, the New England Patriots drafted future Hall of Famer tight end Rob Gronkowski only 13 picks later.

Pro-Bowlers: 0

2011 | DT Muhammed Wilkerson | 30th overall

Coming off their second straight AFC Championship appearance, New York selected University of Temple defensive tackle, Muhammed Wilkerson, to add to their already strong run defense. Wilkerson made it to the Pro-Bowl in 2015 when he racked up a career-high 12 sacks. In his final two seasons with the Jets, he was only able to record 7.5 sacks total. He signed with the Green Bay Packers during the last offseason and played in three games before breaking his leg and being placed on injured reserve.

Pro Bowlers: 1 (Wilkerson)

2012 | DE Quinton Coples | 16th overall

Quinton Coples was drafted to be the Jets premier pass rusher and grow into a formidable duo with Wilkerson. However, the pass rusher lasted only three and a half seasons with New York and logged only 16.5 sacks. To make things worse, again, New England drafted DE Chandler Jones just five picks later, and Jones has 77 career sacks with two trips to the Pro Bowl.

Pro-Bowlers: 0

2013 | CB Dee Milliner | 9th overall & DT Sheldon Richardson | 13th overall

Luckily for New York, they had two selections in the first round this year. If not for their choice of DT Sheldon Richardson at 13, this would have been a very painful draft to stomach. Dee Milliner came out of Alabama and was suppose to be a shutdown cornerback at the next level. It was apparent rather quickly that Milliner wasn’t going to make it in the NFL. He lasted only three seasons in the NFL after being selected as the heir apparent to Revis.

Richardson salvaged this draft somewhat by winning DROY and being selected to his lone Pro Bowl in the 2014 season. Richardson lasted only four seasons in New York but was a run-stuffing monster during that time. New York never finished lower than the 11th ranked rush defense in the NFL while Richardson was on the team.

Pro-Bowlers: 1 (Richardson)

2014 | S Calvin Pryor | 18th overall

The New York Jets had twelve draft picks in 2014 and selected ZERO Pro Bowlers. With their first-round choice, they picked Louisville safety, Calvin Pryor. Pryor played just three seasons in New York, logged only 3 interceptions and never recorded more than 69 tackles in a season.

The only positive from this draft was the selection of wide receiver Quincy Enunwa with the 209th pick. Enunwa had a breakout season in 2016 before missing all of 2017 with a back injury.

Pro-Bowlers: 0

2015 | DT Leonard Williams | 6th overall

This pick is either 1 or 1A as far as draft picks for the Jets over the last ten years. Leonard Williams was widely considered the best player in the 2015 draft and somehow managed to fall to the sixth pick. Naturally, New York wasted no time in turning in their card with this selection. Williams has been the leader of that defense since being drafted.

Pro-Bowlers: 1 (Williams)

2016 | LB Darron Lee | 20th overall

Darron Lee tore up the NFL Combine in 2016 after being the top linebacker in the 40-yard dash, vertical & broad jump, and the 20-yard shuttle. New York selected the Ohio State product with hopes of him turning in to the next Ryan Shazier. Lee’s potential has yet to live up to the anticipated potential. The linebacker has never recorded more than 100 tackles in a season and just hasn’t made any of the game-changing plays that fans were expecting.

Pro-Bowlers: 0

2017 | S Jamal Adams | 6th overall

When I called the Williams pick as either 1 or 1A, the other option was safety Jamal Adams. Adams has cemented himself as one of the league’s best safeties after only two seasons in the NFL. He made his first Pro-Bowl this season and proved to be extremely durable, playing in 1,119 of 1,121 snaps. If he can continue to stay healthy, there’s no reason to believe he won’t continue to play at an elite level.

Pro-Bowlers: 1 (Adams)

2018 | QB Sam Darnold | 3rd overall

The last ten drafts for the Jets have come full circle. The team selected USC QB Sanchez in 2009 and chose USC QB Sam Darnold in 2018. Fans are hoping that Darnold’s career has a different trajectory than “Sanchize.” With the signing of running back Le’Veon Bell, Darnold should be able to make more plays with defenses keying in on Bell. If Darnold can turn in to an above average NFL QB, the Jets should be in good hands moving forward.

Pro-Bowlers: 0

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