Inside the Numbers | Garrett Wilson-Breece Hall-Bam Knight: Tantalizing Trio

Jets' 3 Rookies Have a Joint Accomplishment That's Been Done Just Once Before in the NFL Since 1970

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Robert Saleh, as most all NFL coaches do, has a way with words to describe his players. Listen to the Jets head coach this week on Zonovan "Bam" Knight:

"He runs with a physical mindset. He's hungry. He's young. He runs violently. When he turns a corner and sticks his foot in the ground, it's special."

The point is not that Saleh is offering up inflated praise for one of his new participants. It's that his analysis is genuine and accurate, and it's in praise of an undrafted free agent rookie who's played all of two games as a Jet.

The point here is that this Jets rookie class has the look of one for the books.

The 2022 draft haul for GM Joe Douglas and his draft team was lauded when it was made in late April and it's still showing how special it is as we head deeper into December. Who drafts a Pro Bowl-caliber wide receiver 10th overall, then the top back of the draft 36th who erupts for half a season until he suffers a season-ending knee injury, then replaces the injured back with the undrafted RB who hits the ground running with an impressive two-game pro debut?

There is no way to prove that WR Garrett Wilson, RB Breece Hall and Bam Knight will sustain their special starts over the course of years, but we can suggest how special these three are with some NFL trivia. Consider that Wilson has three 100-scrimmage-yards games already, Hall had two 100-yard games before his exit, and Knight has two in two games.

When was the last time an NFL team had a season in which three rookies produced at least two 100-YFS games each?

Since 1970, before the Jets did it, it happened only once.

The year was 1990, the team was the then-Phoenix Cardinals, and the three rookies were RBs Johnny Johnson and Anthony Thompson and WR Ricky Proehl.

Johnson was the seventh-round selection of the Cards out of San Jose State that year. He made his only Pro Bowl that season after producing five 100-yard games and 1,167 scrimmage yards for the season.

Thompson, who was surpassed by JJ despite being the first pick of the second round out of Indiana, had two 100-yard games, both in the last quarter of the schedule. The same was the case for Proehl, that year's third-round pick out of Wake Forest, with his two 100-yard games also in the last four games.

Neither of the RBs made it to his sixth pro season. Johnson's last two seasons, 1993-94, were spent with the Jets. Proehl was the ageless member of the group with a 17-year career and 669 catches split among six franchises.

Which is why we say there's no way to prove greatness for the Jets trio based on the Cards triplets' uneven production.

But we could also say that the caliber of any one rookie who can get to 100 scrimmage yards once and then do it again that same season could be pretty significant. Only a few teams have had two such rookies, and only two teams since 1970 have had three of them.

We'll leave you this week with the list of the 10 Jets who had multiple 100-YFS games in their rookie seasons. Several of them, in a word Saleh likes, turned out "special" (*Ring of Honor member):

Table inside Article
Jets PlayerYear, Rd100+GmsJets PlayerYear, Rd100+Gms
Clark Gaines1976 (FA)7Michael Carter2021 (4th)3
Matt Snell*1964 (1st)6Emerson Boozer*1966 (6th)2
Freeman McNeil*1981 (1st)4John Riggins1971 (1st)2
Blair Thomas1990 (1st)3Wesley Walker*1977 (2nd)2
Leon Washington2006 (4th)3Al Toon*1985 (1st)2

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