As we approach the 2016 NFL Draft, let's take a look back at the recent past. Last year I ranked picks the Jets made over the last decade. How have things changed in the past year?
Let's rerank first rounders with Leonard Williams thrown into the mix.
These rankings are based on what players have contributed to the Jets. This is only where the players stand as of today. This is not written in stone. Players could move up or down the list in the years to come.
1. Darrelle Revis, 2007 (Last Year: 1)
Revis is one of the best players the Jets have ever drafted. I am not sure he would have signed with the Jets in 2015 had he not been originally drafted by the team. Although his best days are behind him, Revis remains a Pro Bowl level cornerback. In his prime, none of his peers were better. He is on a Hall of Fame trajectory.
2. Nick Mangold, 2006 (Last Year: 2)
2015 was an injury-plagued down year for Mangold. Still, he has been one of the top centers in the league since he first set foot on the field for the Jets.
3. Muhammad Wilkerson, 2011 (Last Year: 3)
Wilkerson's contract status makes it uncertain whether he has played his last game as a Jet. Even if he has, the decision to pick him at the end of the first round in 2011 will go down as one of Mike Tannenbaum's best. He flourished under Rex Ryan and Todd Bowles into one of the most versatile and disruptive forces in the league. 2015 was his best season yet.
4. D'Brickashaw Ferguson, 2006 (Last Year: 4)
Ferguson has his share of detractors, but there is a lot of value in a quality left tackle who never misses a snap. Despite a few rough recent campaigns, Brick has locked down one of the most important positions in the game with solid play. During his peak, he was a Pro Bowl level tackle.
5. Sheldon Richardson, 2013 (Last Year 5)
If you had asked me a year ago, I probably would have guessed that Richardson would have passed Ferguson on the list by now and at least making a case to be ahead of Wilkerson. 2015 was not Sheldon's year. There were off the field problems and a suspension. The Jets also made a failed experiment to give him time at linebacker. Richardson's play was still good when he is in the lineup, but for various reasons he did not take the next step. Still, after a Rookie of the Year in year one and a Pro Bowl in year two this pick has been successful.
6. Leonard Williams, 2015 (Last Year: NR)
Williams played well in his debut season and flashed star potential at times. He was among the league leaders for tackles on run plays resulting in no gain or a loss. He led rookies in quarterback hits. The scary thing is he is still learning how to play.
7. Dustin Keller, 2008 (Last Year: 6)
Keller always felt like something of an underachiever. He was always a poor blocker and never became the gamebreaker as a receiver it felt like he could become. Still, he was a credible tight end. We have seen the value in that the last few years.
8. Calvin Pryor, 2014 (Last Year 9)
Pryor might have only jumped one spot from where he was last year, but his career is on a much better trajectory. After an ugly rookie season, Pryor became an important starter for the Jets. He cleaned up messes at the back of the defense. If he continues on his current pace, he will continue to rise.
9. Mark Sanchez, 2009 (Last Year: 8)
It felt like there was so much potential. He played well in big games early in his career. Then once he had to carry the load, Sanchez fell on his face. Given how ugly things got and how little progress he made, this trade was a failure. At least he has those big games in the first few years to get him this high on the list.
10. Quinton Coples, 2012 (Last Year: 7)
Coples was the year's big faller. That is what happens when you go from starter to released. Yes, the Jets played him out of position. At the time they cut him, Todd Bowles indicated the team did not feel Coples was good enough as an interior player to keep for depth. That and his poor motor make it difficult to totally absolve the player for his underachievement.
11. Kyle Wilson, 2010 (Last Year: 10)
He mastered the finger wag. He wasn't a disaster in 2012 when he stepped in for an injured Darrelle Revis. For stretches, he was a decent slot corner. Wilson never came close to the shutdown corner he was supposed to be.
12. Dee Milliner, 2013 (Last Year: 11)
Year one was mostly downs with only a handful of ups. Unfortunately, that has been the high water mark of Milliner's career to date. After barely playing in 2014, Milliner did not even get onto the field for a defensive snap in 2015 due to injuries and an inability to convince the coaching staff he deserved playing time. Barring a miraculous turnaround, Milliner might end up being in the same ballpark as the last guy on our list.
13. Vernon Gholston, 2008 (Last Year: 12)
Where else could you put a top ten pick pass rusher who never had a single sack in the NFL?