Although, it is often the draft picks you don’t make, as opposed to the ones you do make that separate the average teams from the great ones.
New York fans recently discovered that the Jets were this close to selecting two players that would eventually become superstars. Yet it didn’t happen for one reason or another.
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What Could Have Been in New York
ESPN’s Rich Cimini and Jordan Raanan jointly wrote a December 21 column documenting the last decade of struggle for the Jets and the New York Giants, respectively.
Throughout their story, they shared several anecdotes that have led to each franchise’s despair, although one clearly stands out from the rest.
After back-to-back AFC championship runs, the magic ran out for the Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan pairing. Tannenbaum was relieved of his duties following the 2012 campaign, but Ryan was retained and an arranged marriage was formed with new general manager, John Idzik.
In their first draft together in 2013, they had seven selections including two picks in the first round (thanks to the Darrelle Revis trade to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
Here is who they ended up selecting:
- CB Dee Milliner (Alabama); No. 9 overall
- DL Sheldon Richardson (Missouri); No. 13 overall
- QB Geno Smith (West Virginia); No. 39 overall
- OL Brian Winters (Kent State); No. 72 overall
- OL Oday Aboushi (Virginia); No. 141 overall
- DL William Campbell (Michigan); No. 178 overall
- FB Tommy Bohanon (Wake Forest); No. 215 overall
However, if it was up to Ryan, they would’ve selected a few different players, according to the ESPN column.
“Some felt that Idzik ran a closed-door operation, minimizing input from scouts and coaches. Ryan told ESPN that in 2013, he pleaded with Idzik to draft defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, who slipped to the third round. Didn’t happen. Ryan said he also lobbied for tight end Travis Kelce. Didn’t happen,” Cimini wrote.
Fast forward nine years later and both players are now on the Chiefs and have achieved superstardom in the NFL.
Both players are among the league’s best at their position, having combined to win a Super Bowl championship, six first-team All-Pro nominations and nine Pro Bowl selections.
How can you not, as a Jets fan, wonder what could have been after seeing this?
Seems Pretty Convenient
Since this story emerged, many have raised their eyebrows and questioned the validity of Ryan’s claim.
While Ryan claims he wanted to draft these two now-stars, there are plenty of other players he banged the table for that the Jets actually drafted and it didn’t work out nearly as well.
“Rex Ryan also likely said ‘get me Brady’ and 100 others guys. What is certain is that all Rex stories told by Rex make Rex look good,” Jeff Rogers wrote on Twitter.
It is pretty convenient after the fact, years later, when both players have now established themselves as bonafide stars that you would have, could have, and maybe even should have drafted them. Seems hard to buy now.
The final dagger comes via Jets content creator Matt O’Leary who suggests the longer track record of dismal drafting by Ryan suggests this story doesn’t have legs.
Regardless of whether or not this story is true, this will forever make Jets fans pontificate on what could’ve been. New York ended up with a mix of busts and solid players in that 2013 draft, but none of them to the standard of Kelce or Mathieu.