7-Time Pro Bowler Thankful Jets Passed on Him in NFL Draft

New York Jets fans

Getty A group of New York Jets fans reacting at the 2013 NFL draft.

The NFL draft has been a special time of year for New York Jets fans over the last 50 years.

More often than not Gang Green has been associated with draft busts and misses more than their success stories. That was once again the case after a big reveal during a podcast interview this week.

Chiefs TE Travis Kelce Thankful Jets Passed on Him in NFL Draft

On the New Heights podcast, Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowl center Jason Kelce asked his brother Travis Kelce about draft night back in 2013.

“I thought I was gonna be the first tight end taken off the board, ended up being the fifth. The Jets were sold on me. I had a great interview with Rex Ryan. He said it was between you and Geno Smith. If Geno’s available we’re going to take him and they ended up taking Geno. Thank goodness! Andy Reid, I had no idea I was even on his board.”

In the 2013 NFL draft, the Jets had seven selections including a pair of first-round draft choices (thanks to the Darrelle Revis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade).

The Kansas City Chiefs selected Kelce out of Cincinnati with the No. 63 overall pick in the third round. That means the Jets had three opportunities to select Kelce in that draft and here is who they selected instead:

  • Dee Milliner, cornerback, Alabama: No. 9 overall in the first round
  • Sheldon Richardson, defensive lineman, Missouri: No. 13 overall in the first round
  • Geno Smith, quarterback, West Virginia: No, 39 overall in the second round

Milliner only lasted three seasons in the NFL and then was gone. Richardson ended up winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year award and has had a long nine-year career. Last but certainly not least, Smith spent his entire four-year rookie contract with the Jets and then bounced around the league as a backup.

Of course this season he has been the leading candidate for the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award and has been one of the best stories in the league in 2022 with his surprising career renaissance in Seattle.

On the other side of the coin, Kelce has become the best tight end in all of football and has staked his claim as one of the best ever:

  • 9,665 receiving yards
  • 64 touchdowns
  • 761 receptions

Rex Ryan Side of the Jets Story

This isn’t the first time that we’ve heard about the Kelce-Jets what could’ve happened situation.

Last December ESPN released a monster article diving into the deep-rooted issues of the Jets and New York Giants franchises.

In that long-form article, former Jets head coach Rex Ryan lobbied then-general manager John Idzik to select two players that could have changed the trajectory of the franchise.

Tyrann Mathieu and Kelce were the targets and apparently, Ryan’s request for those two players was denied by Idzik.

Kelce’s anecdote on the podcast at least confirms the Jets’ interest before and during the draft was serious.

It is so easy for these kinds of articles to come out 10 years later that the insert team definitely wanted really great player but for one reason or another, it didn’t happen. Hindsight is 20-20 but in this case, there seems like there was some real traction between the two.

Instead, it will forever live on as a what-could-have-been scenario.

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