Keyshawn Johnson, Roger Vick, Kyle Brady
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

Jets X-Factor ranks the greatest all-time reactions to many of the New York Jets draft picks that have come over the years.

Robby Sabo

The moans, groans, screams and shrieks are many. The tears, horror and finger-pointing laughter have been frequent. Those who root on the green professional football team in Northern New Jersey have endured their fair share of emotional stress through the years—especially during the season the weather starts heating up.

NFL draft time delivers hope to each of the 32 football organizations. It also provides shocking results.

Perhaps no fanbase has experienced more shock and emotional wounds than the New York Jets‘. When the draft was hosted at Radio City Music Hall, the Marriot Marquis, the New York Sheraton Hotel or the Paramount Theatre (whatever the Madison Square Garden Theater was called at the given time) in New York, Jets fans always stole the show. Not only did at-home viewers expect to see a comedic show, but the networks also played it up to a degree that’s tough to match.

Jets X-Factor now ranks the greatest all-time reactions to New York Jets draft picks. And yes, the majority of these reactions are of the negative variety. Jets fans didn’t have the chance to bring the house down for Sam Darnold in Arlington, TX or Mekhi Becton virtually.

Sadly, this starving yet rabid fanbase packed into a small room while ready to bust out with emotional necessity is a thing of the past.

12. Dee Milliner, 2013

Interestingly, the new-era fan reactions can’t touch the old-school noise. Perhaps it was the bigger Radio City Music Hall venue. Maybe Jets fans have actually reversed that infamous pessimism a bit over the years?

Whatever the case, the reaction to Dee Milliner in 2013 wasn’t outrageous. Sure, fans didn’t enjoy seeing Darrelle Revis shipped to Tampa, but the initial reaction to the Alabama product was mixed.

11. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, 2006

Some in the crowd were smart enough to understand just how critical this pick actually was. Others, however, let it be known that they wanted the glitz and glamour that comes with a new quarterback.

Eric Mangini and Mike Tannenbaum kickstarted one of the most talented NFL rosters when they tabbed D’Brickashaw Ferguson No. 4 in 2006.

10. Mark Sanchez, 2009

Much like the Milliner reaction, this era featured mixed reactions at Radio City Music Hall. The majority of the reaction was positive, while Gary Vaynerchuk—entrepreneur and Jets superfan—could be seen vigorously disapproving of the choice.

More importantly than the reaction, which was loud, the Mark Sanchez selection marked a turning point in the organization’s history. Rex Ryan got his man, the quarterback he wanted, but this pick was the first of many wildly terrible drafts with Ryan working in conjunction with the general manager.

New York’s tremendous roster made two-straight AFC championship games, but it faltered shortly thereafter, as the talent continued to decline each offseason. The worst part about it was that Eric Mangini—the man who helped build that tremendous roster—helped the Jets trade-up for Sanchez.

9. Blair Thomas, 1990

Jets fans didn’t really know how to react when NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue called out Blair Thomas’s name. There was a smattering of both excitement and disappointment.

Thomas, who was taken second overall, ahead of Hall of Famers Cortez Kennedy, Junior Seau and Emmitt Smith, never lived up to the draft hype. He retired following the 1995 season in which he played for the Carolina Panthers.

The 1989 Heisman Trophy contender lasted only four years with the Jets, rushing for just 2,009 yards while symbolizing a key all-time organizational draft bust.

8. Johnny Mitchell, 1992

Fans couldn’t quite figure out why the Jets tabbed Johnny Mitchell the No. 15 overall pick in the 1992 NFL draft, and their reaction told the story.

While talented, the Nebraska product managed just 2,086 yards and 16 touchdowns on 158 receptions over four seasons in New York.

7. Freeman McNeil, 1981

“As a season ticket holder for the Jets, I’m going to boo,” is what ESPN host Chris Berman said following this next pick.

It’s a shame the crowd reacted so negatively to the Freeman McNeil pick because the man was a great Jet. Only Curtis Martin can call himself a better Jets all-time running back, as McNeil still ranks second in franchise history in rushing yards with 8,074.

6. Jeff Lageman, 1989

“It’s obvious to me right now that the Jets just don’t understand what the draft’s all about,” Mel Kiper Jr. proclaimed after the great Pete Rozelle announced Jeff Lageman’s name.

Nobody did it better than Rozelle, as you’ll see later down the list. He toyed with Jets fans and did so with more pleasure as the years continued to pile up. Here, however, he was merciful.

Lageman wasn’t a terrible Jet by any means, but he surely didn’t meet the expectations the No. 14 overall pick demanded.

5. Keyshawn Johnson, 1996

The lone overwhelmingly positive reaction on the list is here; it’s Keyshawn Johnson’s NFL draft moment in 1996.

Coming off a porous 3-13 campaign, Rich Kotite snagged the consensus top player first overall. One wonders if Bill Parcells would have done the same, but the Johnson pick helped lead the Jets to their magical 1998 season.

4. Ken O’Brien, 1983

“No!” Rozelle couldn’t get enough of toying with the Jets fan. He made sure to generate a reaction by announcing the position with a nice pause prior to the player’s name.

Much like McNeil, Ken O’Brien’s Jets career was a solid one. Then again, he was no Dan Marino, the man who slid down the board courtesy of ugly rumors that infiltrated many war rooms.

3. Lam Jones, 1980

The gasp that could be heard once Johnny “Lam” Jones was announced as the second-overall pick in 1980 was startling—one only Jets fans at the New York Sheraton Hotel could provide.

Of course, Jones couldn’t live up to the expectations. He finished his Jets career with just 2,322 yards and 13 touchdowns on 138 hauls over five seasons.

2. Roger Vick, 1987

“Oh no!” Rozelle at his finest came in 1987 when he made sure to emphasize the position of the Jets’ first-round selection. “Fullback” was eventually followed by “Roger Vick,” and Jets fans exploded.

Much like most Jets draft busts, Vick’s career in green was short. He lasted just three seasons before one final season in Philadelphia.

1. Kyle Brady, 1995

“We want Sapp, we want Sapp, we want Sapp.” It was this chant that set up the greatest Jets fan reaction to any pick in NFL draft history. Kotite’s first-ever selection was … Kyle Brady, a guy who played the same position his head coach did once upon a time.

Although Brady eventually carved out a nice role as an excellent blocker, snagging him at No. 9 should have never happened.

No one fan sticks in the fandom’s mind more, when draft misery is discussed, than the guy who dropped his head into his hands with a look of complete horror.

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Robby Sabo is a co-founder, developer and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor | Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (sold in 2020). SEO: XLM Email: robby.sabo[at]
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