On this day in New York Jets history, the team with a brand-new owner, Woody Johnson, drafted four first-round draft picks in 2000.
From January 2000 through April 15 that very same year, the New York Jets experienced strange times. Bill Parcells stepped down as head coach and Bill Belichick bolted for New England after one day on the job. (Whether or not the Big Tuna could have avoided that via the fax situation may always remain a mystery.) Leon Hess had passed away, ultimately leading to new ownership in Woody Johnson.
Additionally, the team’s star and first-overall pick from the 1996 NFL Draft (which could have been Peyton Manning), Keyshawn Johnson, was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The “Just Give Me The Damn Ball” author wanted a raise, and when the Jets refused, all hell broke loose.
On this day in Jets history in 2000, the organization executed on its four first-round draft picks as a result of Al Groh trading Johnson to the Bucs and the Patriots surrendering a pick for Belichick’s services.
Interestingly, as bad as the buzz was (concerning the Johnson deal), the 2000 NFL Draft represented tremendous execution by the Jets.
Shaun Ellis and John Abraham were the 12th and 13th overall picks. Marshall quarterback Chad Pennington went at 18 and tight end Anthony Becht rounded out the foursome at 27. The four rooks helped New York finish 9-7 that season, just one Baltimore Ravens win in Week 17 shy of the playoffs.
Over the long haul, it would be a tough argument to make that the Johnson trade was not the right move. Pennington eventually took over for Vinny Testaverde two years later in 2002, when he “played to win the game,” leading the Jets to an AFC East championship after a 1-4 and 2-5 start.
Ellis and Abraham rank second and third, respectively, on the team’s all-time sack record book. Ellis’s 72.5 is just 1.5 shy of Mark Gastineau‘s team record of 74.
After six successful seasons in New York, Abraham was sent to Denver in exchange for the 28th pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, which the Jets used to select Nick Mangold.
Becht finished his Jets career with 1,164 yards and 17 touchdowns on 133 receptions and is now the team’s color analyst during preseason games (CBS 2 New York). While he may have been an unspectacular receiver, he set the tone with his tenacity as a blocker.
All in all, this tax day draft worked out for the New York Jets. Keyshawn Johnson didn’t exactly explode into a Pro Football Hall of Fame career and the organization used all four first-rounders to keep its winning ways intact. Six playoff appearances (2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010) over the next 10 years followed, including two AFC championship game appearances at the end of the decade.