Can the New York Jets continue the trend of nice finds at No. 69?
The New York Jets are set to come to Las Vegas’ NFL Draft podium nine times between April 28 and 30. In celebration and anticipation, Jets X-Factor looks back at the finest names chosen in their respective current slots.
Next up is the Jets’ regularly scheduled slot at No. 69, currently their only pick in the third round.
A ballhawk for the @Lions in the ‘50s.
Jack Christiansen was always looking to take it to the house.
— NFL (@NFL) December 7, 2019
1951: S/PR Jack Christiansen, Detroit
Jack Christiansen gave fans more than a few reasons to tune into the Lions on Thanksgiving, memorably taking back two punts for scores in his Turkey Day debut against Green Bay. It was part of a four-touchdown debut via special teams in his rookie season, one that kicked off a career that ended in Canton (inducted in 1970).
Christiansen also guided the Lions to three NFL championships (including their most recent in 1957) and was posthumously named to the NFL’s 100th anniversary team during the celebrations in 2019. The Colorado A&M alum also earned 46 interceptions (a dozen along coming during the Lions’ championship trek in 1953) and his 12.8 punt return average remains the best among qualifiers in team history.
Remembering The Hogs, Joe Jacoby, Russ Grimm, Jeff Bostic, Fred Dean, George Starke and Mark May, one of the most dominant offensive lines in NFL history who started a dynasty 35 years ago. #HTTR pic.twitter.com/qAclhulfxd
— David Menassé (@Frekiwolf) December 29, 2017
1981: G Russ Grimm, Washington
Part of loaded Pittsburgh squad that also featured fellow future all-star blockers Mark May and Jimbo Covert (where they all united to protect quarterback Dan Marino), Russ Grimm became part of a championship project in the nation’s capital upon his selection in the third round.
Grimm would go on to become the anchor of the Redskins’ infamous “Hogs” blocking unit that also featured May and undrafted invitee Joe Jacoby, paving the way for three Super Bowls over an 11-year career. Grimm added one more Lombardi Trophy hoist before entering the Hall of Fame in 2010, serving as the Steelers’ offensive line coach when they topped Seattle in the Big Game’s 40th edition.
Five years ago today.
Dak Prescott hits Jason Witten for the game-winning touchdown in overtime against the Eagles. pic.twitter.com/HwxnoKlicZ
— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) October 30, 2021
2003: TE Jason Witten, Dallas
Jason Witten opted to leave Tennessee early after spending only two seasons at tight end, originally starting out on the defensive line. He went on to become one of the most impactful players at the position in league history.
No one played more NFL games at tight end than Witten (271) and any record that Tony Gonzalez leads, he more than likely follows, picking up 13,046 yards on 1,128 receptions, 74 of which went for touchdowns.
Having formed a strong bond with fellow 2003 arrival Tony Romo, Witten also holds numerous top marks in the illustrious receiving history of the Cowboys, who hosted his historic endeavors for 16 seasons.
— Sonic 2 (@Sonic47864084) April 8, 2022
2013: DB Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona
Tyrann Mathieu crashed the Heisman Trophy’s offensive party after his sophomore season at LSU. Though he couldn’t take the honor away from Robert Griffin III, Mathieu nonetheless made a name for himself after a dismissal from the Tigers program caused him to fall to Arizona in 2013’s third round.
Temporarily eschewing his collegiate nickname of “The Honey Badger”, Mathieu became one of the last decade’s most accomplished defenders through All-Pro efforts in Arizona and Kansas City. Having earned four All-Pro nominations and three Pro Bowl invites, he remains one of the most, if not the most, attractive free agents left on the market.
Tyler Lockett has never dropped an end-zone target in his career 🤯
— PFF (@PFF) June 11, 2021
2015: WR Tyler Lockett, Seattle
Like Christiansen before him, Tyler Lockett’s NFL impact got started through relatively simple special teams means, notably dominating the Seahawks kick and punt return endeavors en route to All-Pro honors in his freshman season.
Lockett then broke out through offensive means with a 10-touchdown season in 2018 before uniting with D.K. Metcalf to form a potent aerial duo for Russell Wilson. Despite missing Wilson for several games last season, Lockett set new career-bests with 1,175 yards. Seattle certainly hopes he’ll be able to stick around as a high-profile building block as they embark on the post-Wilson (and potentially post-Metcalf) era.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) April 13, 2022
2017: WR Cooper Kupp, LA Rams
Cooper Kupp’s steady rise from Eastern Washington reached historic heights last season. It’s rare that a Super Bowl MVP award (and game-winning touchdown) serves as a mere footnote in a player’s season, but that just goes to show how dominant Kupp’s 2021 endeavors were.
With 1,947 yards on 145 catches, Kupp was merely 17 and four away respectively from the NFL record in each category. Nonetheless, Kupp did become the first receiver since Calvin Johnson to sweep the league’s receiving triple crown, pacing all catchers in receptions, yardage, and scores (16).
Other notable 69th picks:
- 1961: LB Mike Lucci, Cleveland
- 1969: DB Bill Bradley, Philadelphia
- 1980: LB Lance Mehl, Jets
- 1990: G Glenn Parker, Buffalo
- 2010: T Jared Veldheer, Oakland
- 2016: DE Yannick Ngakoue, Jacksonville
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Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags