Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
The Jets own the third pick in this year's draft, their highest since 1996. How have they drafted in the first round over the past five years?
2017: Safety Jamal Adams, No. 6
It's too early to tell how Adams' career will pan out, but the signs so far have been promising. He started every game in his rookie year as the Jets' secondary definitely played better than it had in 2016. On the field, Adams had his ups and downs, but he showed flashes of brilliance in a versatile role. Off the field, he's played a big part in the ongoing culture change that has galvanized the team and has also been a useful tool in player recruitment.
Some had suggested the Jets perhaps should have taken Deshaun Watson, especially after he had a run of big performances after earning a starting role with the Texans early last season. However, his season ended prematurely when he injured his knee and not many people had Watson ranked in the top 10 anyway. Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who went to the Saints with the 11th pick, was perhaps a more realistic alternative.
2016: Linebacker Darron Lee, No. 20
Lee was a surprising selection that not many experts had linked with the Jets in the run-up to the 2016 draft. So far, despite being statistically productive, he's been something of a disappointment. However, he played the best football of his career in the middle of last season and the Jets are hopeful he can still develop into a key contributor.
If the Jets had their heart set on a linebacker, then Deion Jones or Myles Jack could have been a better pick in hindsight. However, Jack had injury concerns and few considered Jones to be a first-round talent at the time.
2015: Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams, No. 6
When the Jets opted to draft Williams in spite of their depth on the defensive line, few considered that Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Damon Harrison and Sheldon Richardson would all be gone three years later. Williams has lived up to his draft position so far, although his 2017 season was disappointing as he battled through some injuries and was less productive. The Jets just exercised Williams' fifth year option and hope he can dominate now that he's the lone remaining star on that line.
Williams was the unquestioned best player available when the Jets selected him. At the time, they were thought to be considering Vic Beasley, who -- after an uninspiring rookie year -- has developed into one of the league's better edge rushers. That remains a need for the 2018 Jets, so Beasley wouldn't have been a bad alternative.
2014: Safety Calvin Pryor, No. 18
Pryor lasted just three years with the Jets and is currently without a job as he should be preparing to enter his fifth year. As a rookie, Pryor was involved in too many blown coverages and had a tendency to take bad angles in pursuit. However, he seemed to have fixed these issues in 2015 and showed dramatic improvements in coverage. Unfortunately, he regressed in 2016 and has had injury problems and off-field issues since being traded away to the Browns last season.
The second safety selected was Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who was a pro bowler in 2016. That's probably the pick the Jets wish they'd made, in hindsight.
2013: Cornerback Dee Milliner, No. 9, and Defensive Lineman Sheldon Richardson, No. 13
With an extra first-rounder stemming from the Darrelle Revis trade, the Jets went defense twice. One of the players selected went to a Pro Bowl, while the other was out of the league within a few years.
Richardson was initially a great selection, but he got himself suspended twice and was one of the main protagonists in the locker room feud that doomed the 2016 season to failure. The Jets did really well to acquire a Day 2 pick and Jermaine Kearse when they traded him before last season.
As for Milliner, he had a rough rookie season, but played tremendously down the stretch. There was hope he could develop into a Pro Bowl-level starter in 2014, but he tore his Achilles in the second game of the year. Further injuries meant the Jets lost patience with him and he never managed to get back into the rotation -- or to find a job elsewhere.
Many of the players the Jets were linked with at the time have been disappointing, but cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Xavier Rhodes would have been a good alternative to Milliner, and DeAndre Hopkins would have helped alleviate the need at wide receiver.