Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins, NFL Draft, 38th Pick, New York Jets
Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Getty Images

A Hall of Famer and a renowned face of WFAN lingers in the Jets’ latter selection in the second round

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.

With the week of the draft officially underway, our countdown reaches the 38th overall pick, the most valuable selection obtained from the Sam Darnold trade with the Carolina Panthers.

1961: DE Jerry Mays, Dallas Texans

Jerry Mays was an All-American at defensive tackle for Southern Methodist before the AFL came calling. When the Texans moved, thus did Mays as well, shifting over to end upon the arrival of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Mays would go on to reach six AFL All-Star Games and served as a Kansas City captain in each of their first two Super Bowl appearances, including a 23-7 triumph over Minnesota in the fourth edition, the final game prior to the merger that created the NFL as we know it.

1981: LB Mike Singletary, Chicago

Though perhaps infamous amongst the latest generation of football fans for a mediocre stint at the helm of the San Francisco 49ers, Mike Singletary stands as one of the most dominant defensive stars in NFL history. Be it at the amateur or the professional level, Singletary was born to make a gridiron difference as a Bear.

After starring at Baylor, winning the Davey O’Brien Award twice before it was converted to a quarterback’s accolade, Singletary became one of the primary stars of Buddy Ryan’s 46 defense in Chicago. He was the winner of the league’s Defensive Player of the Year during the Bears’ nearly flawless run to Super Bowl XX and added another for good measure two seasons later.

1984: QB Boomer Esiason, Cincinnati

Now well known amongst metropolitan sports fans for his radio and Ranger-supporting endeavors with WFAN (one of several sports media gigs for the East Islip native), Boomer Esiason succeeded longtime Bengals thrower Ken Anderson in the franchise quarterback role after starring at Maryland.

Though he fell just short of passing Anderson in the franchise ledgers, he nonetheless left a major mark on Cincinnati football, winning the NFL’s MVP award in 1988 en route to the Super Bowl. Esiason would later return to New York to play three seasons with the Jets, notably winning the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award during his last in 1995.

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1992: LB Levon Kirkland, Pittsburgh

You’ve heard of the Steeler defense from the 1970s spoken of in hallowed tones, but Levon Kirkland helped pace an extreme home makeover, Steel Curtain edition, two decades later.

Originally forming a hard-hitting linebacker tandem with Greg Lloyd at the start of his career (one that pushed Pittsburgh into Super Bowl XXX), Kirkland later gained fame as an outside linebacker with coverage prowess in the nickel package. For his efforts at the end of the millenium, Kirkland was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s all-1990s squad.

2016: CB Xavien Howard, Miami

What better way to commemorate Xavien Howard’s newfound payday than by inclusion amongst finest 38s?

Though postseason success has eluded him thus far, Howard has created an impressive resume in only six seasons, notably topping the league’s interception list twice (2018, 2020). The Dolphins have rewarded his efforts with a new five-year deal worth over $50 million in new money.

Other notable 38th picks:

  • 1964: LB Ralph Baker, Pittsburgh
  • 1975: DT Doug English, Detroit
  • 1995: G Zack Wiegert, St. Louis
  • 1998: OT Flozell Adams, Dallas
  • 1999: DE Mike Rucker, Carolina
  • 2009: LB Rey Maualuga, Cincinnati
  • 2010: DB T.J. Ward, Cleveland

Draft Countdown Series

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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Geoff Magliocchetti is a veteran football writer with years of credentialed experience with the Jets and Giants. Email: geoffmags90@gmail.com

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