Every year I'm tasked with how to improve our draft coverage, and every year that gets harder. This year I thought it may be interesting to look back on how the Jets have faired with drafting certain positions in the first round. How often they've drafted a receiver and how well their careers with the Jets went.
Yesterday I mocked West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White to the Jets at selection #6.I stand by that today, even though I took a lot of criticism (mainly on social) for passing up the chance to draft Marcus Mariota. Let me just be clear, if the Jets were to take Mariota, I would be delighted. However there are questions about him, the same can be said for Winston, and I'm personally not 100% committed to giving up on Geno, especially in a poor quarterback year.
The Jets haven't selected a receiver in the first round in over 10 years. The last receiver to be selected in the first by the Jets? Santana Moss, the #16 overall pick in the 2001 draft. In total the Jets have only ever selected 5 receivers in the first round.
New York Jets: First Round Receivers:
2001: #16 - Santana Moss
1996: #1 - Keyshawn Johnson
1985: #10 - Al Toon
1980: #2 - Jonny Lam Jones
1972: #9 - Jerome Barkum (WR/TE)
We'll go through them individually, but as a collective, these 5 players recorded a combined 134 TD's on 1437 receptions for 20,238 yards during their Jets careers. We're only looking at their careers as a Jet, rather than the value of their entire career.
Santana Moss - 4 years as a Jet, 19 TD's, 151 receptions, 2,416 yards
I always liked Moss, he went from being a walk-on for the Miami Hurricanes to leaving as one of their most, if not the most accomplished receiver in their history along with Michael Irvin. He blazed his 40 yard dash at the combine and the Jets fell for him with their 16th overall selection. Remember the Jets had selected Chad Pennington in the 2000 draft and they wanted to continue to build up their offense with the selection of Moss.
Although he got off to a slow start in his rookie year only recording 40 yards. He improved significantly in 2002 and then had his breakout 1,000+ yard season in 2003. His vertical speed made him a dangerous player on every single snap. As well as his ability as a receiver, he was also an accomplished punt returner, recording 1052 yards and 2 touchdowns on 88 punt returns as a Jet.
After the 2004 season Santana Moss was traded to the Washington Redskins for Laveranues Coles.
Keyshawn Johnson - 4 years as a Jet, 31 TD's, 305 receptions, 4108 yards
Keyshawn was everything you would want in a receiver, he was big, he was fast and he was strong. He was confident, he was arrogant, but he backed it up on the field. He came to a Jets team that was just horrible and remained horrible for his first year. They gradually improved to the point where we would win our first AFC East division title and go to the AFC Championship game in 1998.
Johnson was in his prime in 1998 and 1999 and despite his arrogance and need to be 'the guy' he was the Jets best receiver. When they traded him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two first round draft picks, many thought they had just given him away, and they were making a terrible mistake. Al Groh was instantly in the spot light for the wrong reasons.
Johnson had 2 years remaining on his contract and he wanted a new and improved deal after two back-to-back 1000+ yard receiving years, his agent threatened that he would hold out of camp if no contract came, the Jets decided to trade away their hottest commodity rather than cave in and offer a deal.
With the picks received from Tampa Bay, the Jets selected DE John Abraham and TE Anthony Becht
Al Toon - 8 years as a Jet, 31 TD's, 517 receptions, 6608 yards.
Selected with the 10th overall pick of the 1985 NFL draft, Al Toon is one of the finest receivers the Jets have ever had. He wasn't a burner but he was a big bodies receiver who knew how to go up and get the football. He was named team MVP in 1986, 1987 and 1988, and that only goes a small way to explaining just how important he was to the Jets. Ken O'Brien absolutely loved him and in turn Al loved Kenny for his ability to put the ball on the money.
Al Toon retired in 1992 after 8 years of taking a beating, several concussions, bumps and bruises. He had a franchise record for 101 consecutive games with at least one catch and he was inducted into the New York Jets ring of honor. Toon will always be a Jet and his status as a franchise legend are well founded.
Johnny Lam Jones - 5 years as a Jet, 13 TD's, 138 receptions, 2322 yards.
The #2 overall selection in the 1980 NFL draft, Jonny Lam Jones is widely considered to be one of the biggest New york Jets draft busts of all time. We gained the #2 overall selection by trading two first round selections, making this bust even harder to swallow. The problem with Johnny Lam Jones? He was a sprinter, not a football player. He averaged only 28 receptions a season at Texas but because he was so fast, he could run by most DB's in college football, meaning the Jets fell hook, line and sinker for his average yards per catch and touchdown production. Had they looked at the entire package, I'm sure they would have realized he was extremely raw.
Immediately following the draft he was given the first NFL contract to be worth over $1 million, his contract was in fact worth over $2 million. He would outrun a lot of coverages in the NFL, the problem was he couldn't catch the ball. The ball would be dropped right into his arms and it would slither through and hit the turf, even with no defensive backs around him. He did manage a few touchdowns, but he is one of the worst draft picks in our history.
Jerome Barkum - 12 years as a Jet, 40 TD's, 326 receptions, 4789 yards
When I think of the best Jets receivers, I often overlook Jerome Barkum, which is entirely unfair. He played for this team for over a decade and had more touchdowns than both Toon and Johnson. For Barkum it was slow and steady win the race, he only had one year where he had over 600 receiving yards and never had over 7 touchdowns.
You may remember that Jerome Barkum was one of the three players that sued the NFL over concussions and brain injuries. He would constantly go over the middle and he took a big beating. Barkum was a little before my time, but I've read a lot about him, 1973 was his best year for the Jets recording 810 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Although he wasn't flashy, he got the job done with the Jets. If a first round player gives you 12 years of service, you've done a decent job.
Looking at the selections the Jets made at the receiver position in the first round, you have to be largely impressed. Had it not been for Johnny Lam Jones the list would be quite impressive. Moss, Keyshawn, Toon and Barkum all played important roles for the Jets and produced on the football field.
If people enjoy this trip down memory lane, I'll make a note to cover other positions.
We have had 5 first round wide receiver draft selections in our history, will we make it 6 in 2015? Whether it be White, Cooper, Parker or someone else, it may be time to invest another first round pick in the skill position at wide receiver.