Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
The Jets are notorious for their draft mistakes with ESPN's annual fan montage almost as much of an institution as the draft itself. Coming up with a top 10 ranking of the biggest mistakes in the last 25 years is therefore a challenging task.
10. Bryan Thomas, DE, 22nd pick in 2002
Thomas sneaks into the top-10 mainly because the Jets could have taken Ed Reed here. While Thomas was a solid Jet for over a decade, defensive end was a position of strength at the time with Shaun Ellis and John Abraham. The plan to move Ellis inside never really worked and Thomas' career got off to a slow start.
9. Dewayne Robertson, DT, 4th pick in 2003
Robertson was underappreciated because he was a solid starter in his five Jets seasons, but never lived up to his draft status before his career was cut short by a knee-on-knee bone condition. The Jets traded the 13th and 22nd picks to move up and select Robertson and it's scant consolation that all the players they had been linked with at the time also turned out to be busts.
8. Geno Smith, QB, 39th pick in 2013
Smith was once considered a potential first overall pick and the Jets couldn't resist taking him when he dropped into the middle of the second round. After an inconsistent rookie year, Smith regressed badly in year two. Before he could bounce back in 2015, the embarrassing locker room incident with IK Enemkpali effectively ended his Jets career.
7. Mark Sanchez, QB, 5th pick in 2009
Sanchez had a more successful Jets career than Smith and arguably extending him prematurely was a bigger mistake than drafting him in the first place, as he regressed thereafter. However, this was under the old rookie scale, where a failed top-five pick was much more damaging financially, even though the Jets had pulled off a coup by effectively trading some spare parts and dead weight to move up to that spot.
6. Dee Milliner, CB, 9th pick in 2013
Entering his second season, some people were projecting Milliner to be a potential Pro Bowler, after a strong finish to his uneven rookie campaign. However, following an early season Achilles injury, he would never again make it onto the field on defense in an NFL game. Milliner is still only 27 and should be hitting his peak as a core contributor. Instead, he's another wasted top-10 pick, albeit one that was partly due to misfortune.
5. The "Idzik 12", 2014 draft
First-round pick Calvin Pryor or second-rounder Jace Amaro were arguably bad enough picks to warrant inclusion on this list. However, the sheer futility of a draft where you have 12 picks and have almost nothing to show for it a few years later cannot go unrecognized. General Manager John Idzik, in what would be his second and final draft with the Jets, opted not to make any trades. Of the players selected, only Quincy Enunwa is still on the Jets and even he was released initially only to later make it back after a spell on the practice squad.
4. Mike Nugent, PK, 47th pick in 2005
After Doug Brien's exploits in the 2004 postseason, Herm Edwards somehow convinced the front office that the Jets were a kicker away from being a contender, so - after a pre-draft trade that saw the Jets move out of the first round - they used their first pick on one. If this strategy wasn't foolish enough, Nugent wasn't even that good, moving on after four underwhelming years. Compounding matters, the two players they got in the trade for their first rounder, tight end Doug Jolley and second round cornerback Justin Miller, were also bad.
3. Christian Hackenberg, 51st pick in 2016
This was a similar situation to the Smith pick. Hackenberg fell out of the top 50 and the Jets couldn't resist taking a flyer on a player with his tools, ignoring analysts who felt Hackenberg was too inaccurate to play in the NFL. He was gone within two years having never seen the field.
2. Kyle Brady, 9th pick in 1995
Brady was a solid blocker, but never close to being worthy of a top-10 selection. In terms of opportunity cost, this one stung as the fans had been chanting for Warren Sapp. The Jets, scared away by off-field concerns, ended up passing on Sapp, who won a Super Bowl ring and went to seven Pro Bowls.
1. Vernon Gholston, OLB, 6th pick in 2008
No sacks, no interceptions, no fumble recoveries? No doubt: Gholston tops this list easily as the Jets learned a valuable lesson about overreacting to workout numbers and trying to turn players into something they are not.