Top Five Jet Draft Disappointment's of the Decade
So with 2009 winding down, and the team about to enter a new decade with a new stadium and high expectations, I thought it was the perfect time to look back over the past 10 years.
As I like my college football, and my draft discussion, I thought the biggest "busts" or maybe more accurately "biggest disappointments" were a great place to start. Several factors will be considered when going over these, and if there are any that you disagree with, or a glaring omission I have made then just post it up in the comments.
5. Mike Nugent, Ohio State, 2005, Round 2
A kicker in the 2nd round? Yes, it's true, we did do that. A knee jerk reaction if I have ever seen one.
We all remember 2004, a reasonably solid year for then kicker Doug Brien. Made 24-29 field goals, hitting 2-3 in the 20-17 victory over San Diego at the first hurdle in the playoffs including a clutch 28-yarder to send us through to the next round.
Then came the fateful night, as he missed two field goals in the final two minutes against the Steelers to send the Jets home packing 20-17. The first was a 47-yarder that hit the cross bar and fell agonisingly short.
The second was a 43-yarder, that was creeping left the moment it left his boot. As a kicker, you knew you were gone after missing two field goals in a playoff game.
Nugent held just about every record you can imagine at Ohio State when he was drafted. In total he had 22 records to his name, including: most consecutive field goals with 24; most field goals of 50 yards or more with 8; and most points scored by a kicker with 356. The list truly does go on, and he was awarded the Lou Groza Award in 2004 as the nations best kicker.
His career was hampered by expectation, being a second-round draft pick, with a reputation of a cannon leg, it was near impossible to live up to the billing.
When he went down injured in 2008, he sat and watched Jay Feely snatch his job. Feely who would later become the Jets' all-time leader in consecutive field goals made, breaking Pat Leahy's record of 22.
Last I saw, Nugent was with the Arizona Cardinals. He holds a disappointing 78 percent field goal success ratio. Being a kicker drafted far above projected position, Mike Nugent comes in at number five on the list.
4. Jon McGraw, Kansas State, 2002, Round 2
There were several things I never liked about this pick. For one McGraw was overrated from the beginning; he was a former walk-on who played for a great coach, which enhanced his draft stock. He had excellent size and was physical.
He made several key interceptions for the Wilcats, and he made a couple while he was here as well, but never anything to the magnitude expected. He was actually sent to the Lions for a seventh-round pick (I think that says it all really) because there was a up-and-coming safety pushing Oliver Celestin, and that man was rookie Kerry Rhodes, who was impressing head coach Herm Edwards to the extent that McGraw was deemed unnecessary.
The one reason why McGraw is here, is because he actually got off to a great start as a Jet. During his rookie campaign he started in just one game, however he totaled 43 tackles (27 solo), an interception, two passes defensed, a forced fumble and 18 special teams stops. At this point people were starting to get excited; we had a playmaker, a guy with great size and great athletic ability.
An abdominal injury plagued him for much of his 2004 season with the Jets, and he was promptly sent packing to the Lions.
He is now playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, and has actually started seven games with 40 tackles, and one sack. He is also a standout on special teams, something that he has been able to do for some time.
3. Justin Miller, Clemson, 2005, Round 2
I had high hopes for Justin Miller coming out of Clemson. Not only was he an established kick returner, but he was a very good cover corner. It seems strange to say that now after seeing him in the NFL.
However, his 13 interceptions in three years at Clemson suggested that he was a playmaker. He ranked fourth in Clemson history with 44 pass deflections. He had 169 tackles, 134 of which were solo, a sack and three forced fumbles.
He was a playmaker on both sides of the ball. He also racked up 1534 yards on 50 kick returns while playing at Clemson.
However after signing with the Jets, we soon realised that his cover skills left a lot to be desired; he had speed to burn but couldn't read the game.
Unfortunately we only ever saw the offensive side of his game. He would represent the AFC in the 2006 Pro Bowl, but the job he was primarily drafted for never came easy to him.
As a result he has spent much of his career floating around the wire. Since being released by the Jets, he had a brief stint with the Raiders, and then again with the Jets, and is currently looking for work; any vacancies sent to justinmillerneedsajob.com.
Add that he was arrested for punching a women in the face in a New York nightclub, and he was a huge disappointment to anyone who believed the pre-draft hype. Unfortunately I was one of them.
2. Vernon Gholston, Ohio State, 2008, Round 1
Now I can't stress this enough, this is firmly in the "disappointing" section and not in the "bust" section. I really don't think that you can label someone a "bust" with less than two years experience in the league.
If during next season he still is not showing some signs of improvement, then the bust label can be floated around; if at the end of next season he still has done nothing of note then it can be firmly placed around his neck.
Vernon is an athletic freak; unfortunately it seems that he is not much of a football player. He had a great combine, and a good performance against number one selection Jake Long. Unfortunately Eric Mangini and Mike T, fell in love with this and we are stuck with him. Him and his $20+ million in guaranteed money.
To date he has not made a single impact play. He has 26 tackles and nothing more. The frustration arises because we were warned that he had "bust" potential, but we selected him anyway, citing his speed and power as a perfect fit for the 3-4 defence.
He was a star at Ohio State, being named Big 10 defensive lineman of the year in 2007. In 2006 he had 18.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 QB sacks. In 2007 he tied a team record for most sacks by a single player in one game, getting to Tyler Donovan 4 times in a single contest. In 25 games at Ohio State he amassed 87 tackles, 30.5 tackles for a loss, and 21.5 sacks. Unfortunately he really hasn't got going.
There is still plenty of time for Gholston, and he could well find his way out off this list, but he has to start showing something, I think I'm right in saying that Jay Feely has more special team tackles this season than Vernon.
1. DeWayne Robertson, Kentucky, 2003, Round 1
The number one bust of the decade has to go to Robertson, I don't think anyone can even start to question that. To move up to select Robertson, we traded two first-round picks and a fourth-round selection. We were eventually able to deal him to the Denver Broncos, who his agent called "a much better fit."
Unfortunately for him and the Jets, Robertson didn't work out in Denver, and he is currently out of football. The Jets never did see that conditional mid-round selection.
The expectations for Robertson were enormous. The name "Warren Sapp" was flung around far too frequently, and it was a case of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Robertson never had the size to fit as a 3-4 NT, he could never do the duties of a NT. He didn't occupy blockers, he was handled far too easily, and he didn't make the impact plays that many expected he would.
During his rookie season he started all 16 games, the first Jets defensive player to do so since Mo Lewis in 1991. Unfortunately he made little impact and the alarm bells were sounding before the end of the season: 34 tackles and 1.5 sacks were not exactly what the Jets envisioned when they selected the DT from Kentucky.
However the stats cannot tell the whole story. On numerous occasions he would be easily shoved aside; the Jets were ranked 28th in rushing defence during 2003.
There was an air of inevitability about Robertson being traded. We all knew that he wasn't a good fit, we just didn't know when the management would be willing to accept this. With a roster bonus due, and his performances still lacking, the Jets traded him prior to the 2008 season.
We gave up too much for too little production and we paid him too much money.
Let's hope we start the next decade off with a flawless draft, if there is such a thing