Modern stars and a Super Bowl MVP were previously chosen with the 146th pick of the NFL Draft, the New York Jets’ scheduled fifth-rounder.
The only NFL draft tradition more enduring than mocks is looking back at the selection gatherings of the past.
Jet X looks back on the nine spots where the New York Jets are slated to select the coming draft and highlights the best players chosen in each role.
The countdown carries on by looking back at the Jets’ regularly scheduled fifth-round choice at No. 146. (The team’s 147th pick is technically No. 146 with the New England Patriots’ third-round forfeiture.)
1986: QB Mark Rypien, Washington
Mark Rypien is far from the only late-round gem to become a Super Bowl MVP. (Some sixth-rounder from Michigan has appeared to have mastered that.) But Rypien recovered from early injuries to take over the franchise quarterback role in the nation’s capital.
The Calgary native did make history as the first foreign-born MVP winner, capping off an All-Pro season with 292 yards and two scores in a 37-24 win over Buffalo after the 1991-92 season.
The Rypien name continues to live on in professional football. Mark’s daughter Angela formerly partook in the Legends Football League while his nephew Brett was a star thrower at Boise State before joining the Denver Broncos as an undrafted rookie last NFL season.
1988: DT Paul Frase, Jets
Paul Frase made a lasting mark on New York football, as an Elmira native and Syracuse alum. He exchanged orange for green in 1988 and played seven seasons with the Jets, earning 211 tackles and 10 sacks.
Frase would later be chosen by the Jaguars in the 1995 expansion draft (along with current Jets special teams boss Brant Boyer) and later joined up with the Green Bay Packers, recovering a fumble that helped seal the 1997-98 NFC title game.
Nowadays, Frase runs a foundation named after his son Joshua that aims to fund research toward myotubular myopathy.
2005: DE Trent Cole, Philadelphia
One of the more underrated defensive players in recent NFL memory, Cole went on to play a dozen NFL seasons, mostly in Philadelphia.
He reached double figures in sacks in three straight seasons (2009-11), highlighted by a 12.5-sack tally in the first of those years, matching his career-best from 2007. Cole’s 85.5 sacks in an Eagle uniform is second-best in team history, behind only Reggie White.
2015: WR Stefon Diggs, Minnesota
You never know what you’ll find on day three of the NFL draft. One could well find themselves a (Minneapolis) miracle worker, as Diggs turned out to be in the dying stages of the 2017-18 NFC divisional playoff game.
More recently, Diggs’ magic has moved to an AFC East locale and has become even more powerful. It took only a single season in Western New York for Diggs to rewrite the single-season receiving chapters of the Buffalo Bills’ record book, leading the NFL with 1,535 yards on 127 receptions, both setting new team records.
2016: LB Matt Judon, Baltimore
Some have advocated for the Jets, facing an upcoming quandary in their linebacker corps, to bring in Matt Judon once the free agency period gets underway. Whoever gets Judon will be getting a two-time Pro Bowler, having earned the honor last season despite spending part of it on the COVID reserve list.
Overcoming great odds has never been an issue for Judon, a Division II alum from Grand Valley State who was forced to turn down an invite to the East-West Shrine Game due to a torn meniscus. He has earned 34.5 sacks over his first five seasons and played on a franchise tag this past year.
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2017: TE George Kittle, San Francisco
Kittle never lit up the stat sheet in college—his best tallies being 314 yards on 22 receptions in his senior season. The Iowa alum has established himself as one of the most dominant tight ends in the NFL, helping guide the 49ers to Super Bowl during the 2019-20 campaign.
He beat out five veterans for the starting job in his rookie season and was leading the league in tight end yardage a year later. Kittle was ranked the seventh-best player in the NFL by his peers in the NFL Network’s yearly rankings last summer.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags