New York Jets: Ranking the 5 Best 1st-Round Draft Picks in Team History

Travis Wakeman@@traviswakeman10Featured Columnist IVFebruary 28, 2014

New York Jets: Ranking the 5 Best 1st-Round Draft Picks in Team History

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    The 2014 NFL draft is drawing closer by the day, and the New York Jets are mulling over what to do when they go on the clock at No. 18 in the first round.

    Like most teams, the Jets have had mixed success in the first round of the draft. However, with the draft always taking place in New York, the newest members of the team are usually met with wild cheers or massive boos.

    Tight end Kyle Brady was harshly booed in 1995 when he was taken No. 9 overall, and the crowd went wild when the team chose Mark Sanchez to be the quarterback of the future in 2009.

    Since 1967, the Jets have had 21 picks inside the top 10 in the first round, but only six of them make this list of the best selections.

    Current players like Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson narrowly missed this list, but they could be regarded as two of the best first-round picks in team history by the time their careers are through.

    Career statistics, Pro Bowl appearances and value to the franchise were all factored in when trying to determine who the five best first-round draft picks in team history are.

    So who made the list? Click forward to find out.

Honorable Mention: Shaun Ellis

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    Even though he finished his career in New England, Shaun Ellis is one of the best defensive players in team history.

    He was selected with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2000 draft, spending 11 seasons as a valuable member of the Jets defensive line.

    In New York, he collected 72.5 career sacks, including 8.5 as a rookie. That still stands as the second-highest total for a rookie in team history.

    Appearing in 170 of a possible 176 games in New York, Ellis had double-figure sack totals in 2003 and 2004. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2003 and 2009.

5. Ken O'Brien

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    The 1983 NFL draft will always be remembered for John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. But Ken O'Brien wasn't too shabby either.

    Taken with the No. 24 overall selection in 1983, he actually went three picks ahead of Marino. He also led some of the most prolific offensive attacks in New York history.

    He finished his career second on the all-time passing yardage list while also throwing for 124 touchdowns in New York.

    1985 was a banner season for O'Brien. He threw for 3,888 yards with 25 touchdown passes. He was also chosen as the AFC Player of the Year that season.

    On top of that, he tossed two perfect games in his career in terms of quarterback rating (158.3).

    He was chosen to play in the Pro Bowl in 1985 and again in 1991. However, despite all the numbers and accolades, O'Brien never won one postseason game with the Jets.

4. Darrelle Revis

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    In 2007, Darrelle Revis was selected with the No. 14 overall pick by the Jets. He now plays for Tampa Bay. Had he stayed in New York, he very likely would have landed even higher on this list down the road.

    Despite tearing his ACL during the 2012 season, he is still one of the top cornerbacks in the league. Perhaps only Richard Sherman is better, and even that is debatable.

    Over the course of his career in New York, Revis gained a reputation as a shutdown corner, routinely taking out the opposition's No. 1 receiver. This helped earn him the nickname "Revis Island."

    In six years with the Jets, he had 19 interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns. But he's also a tremendous tackler.

    It had to be hard for Jets fans to see him move onto Tampa Bay, but he is clearly one of the best first-round draft choices the team ever made.

3. Al Toon

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    Checking in at No. 3 is former Jets wide receiver Al Toon. A member of the Jets Ring of Honor, Toon was selected with the 10th overall pick in 1985.

    He quickly became a reliable target in the passing game for Ken O'Brien. Toon had a huge season in 1988, leading the NFL with 93 receptions.

    He ranks fourth in team history with 517 career receptions. He also had 6,605 yards and 31 touchdowns over the course of his career.

    He was selected to participate in the Pro Bowl in three straight years from 1986-88, and in '86, he was named the AFC Player of the Year.

    Unfortunately for Toon, his career was cut short in 1992 as the result of multiple concussions suffered while playing football. If not for that, who knows what kind of numbers he would have put up?

2. Freeman McNeil

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Taken No. 3 overall in 1981 out of UCLA, Freeman McNeil was one of the best running backs in New York Jets history. Like Al Toon, he is a member of the team's Ring of Honor.

    Highly regarded coming out of college, he played his entire career in New York, and his 8,074 career rushing yards trail only the great Curtis Martin for most in team history. He also had 38 rushing touchdowns to go along with that.

    He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1982, 1984 and 1985. He led the NFL in rushing yardage in the strike-shortened 1982 season.

    With Ken O'Brien at quarterback, McNeil helped the team have a legitimate rushing and passing attack.

1. Joe Namath

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    Easily the most recognizable player in franchise history, Joe Namath is also the biggest name to ever put on a Jets uniform.

    In 1965, he was selected No. 12 overall by the St. Louis Cardinals, but the Jets also chose him with the first overall pick in the AFL draft that year. He made the decision to sign with the Jets, and the rest as they say, is history.

    He threw for more than 27,000 yards in his career, which is still the best in team history. But he meant so much more than that. He was the face of the team for many years, and in some ways, he still is.

    Namath will always be remembered for the guarantee he made that the Jets would defeat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. He helped his team follow up on that promise, throwing for 206 yards as the Jets handed the Colts one of the most shocking defeats in NFL history.

    By some standards, he was an average quarterback. His career completion percentage is just a shade over 50 percent, and he threw 47 more interceptions than he did touchdowns in his career.

    Still, he was named AFL MVP in 1968 and 1969, was chosen as Super Bowl III MVP and was selected to play in the Pro Bowl in 1972. He is also one of only five players to have his jersey retired by the team.

    Joe Namath is the greatest first-round pick ever made by the Jets.