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Inside the Numbers: How the Jets & the NFL Have Fared with the No. 2 Draft Pick

Hall of Fame Defenders, Good to Very Good to Namathian QBs Have Gone Second Overall Over the Years


It doesn't always work out that way, but Number 2 can certainly be The One.

The Jets, for instance, hold the second pick of the April NFL Draft at the moment and while it's not the top pick, which Jacksonville possesses for now, but two is still remarkably valuable. And Green & White fans can go back all the way to the Jets' first No. 2 pick, in the 1965 American Football League Draft, to see that it is.

Joe Namath was the ultimate gem of that draft, conducted "by telephone and telegraph," according to The Associated Press, on Saturday, Nov. 28, 1964. Yet contrary to several Internet websites, Namath was not the first pick of that draft but the second.

As AP reported at the time (with UPI confirming), Baylor WR Larry Elkins "was the top choice in the American Football League player draft," before the Jets "obtained the second choice in the first round by trading the rights to Tulsa sharpshooter Jerry Rhome and named another quarterback, Alabama's controversial Joe Namath."

The Oilers had the first pick overall and got the second in a trade earlier that year with the Denver Broncos for QB Jacky Lee. The day before the draft, the Jets traded the rights to Rhome, the highly considered Tulsa QB whom they tabbed as a future pick in the '64 draft. The rest, as has often been noted about Broadway Joe, is history.

The Jets also played the deuce in two succeeding NFL drafts. In 1980, they traded up with San Francisco to get to No. 2 and selected Texas WR Johnny "Lam" Jones, who played 61 games (36 starts) over five seasons with the Jets.

Ten years later, having secured the No. 2 in the '90 draft off of their 4-12 '89 season, they grabbed RB Blair Thomas out of Penn State. He played in 51 games (35 starts) over four Jets seasons.

No. 2 Overall Picks in NFL Annals
The NFL as a whole has provided a lot of great second overall picks, although that spot can also be a minefield considering several picks that didn't pan out.

Of interest to Jets GM Joe Douglas, new defensively oriented Jets HC Robert Saleh and the team's draft operation, top defenders can be found here. Since the Fifties, three defenders taken No. 2 went on to Pro Football Hall of Fame careers — Rams LB Les Richter (selected by the Dallas Texans in the '52 draft), Cowboys DT Randy White (1975), and of course Giants LB Lawrence Taylor (1981). The Broncos' Von Miller (2011) could some day also be included in that company of fame-ous 'backers, and it's early but 49ers DE Nick Bosa (2019) could be on that path as well.

The second rung on the draft ladder also seems to be good for finding HOF running backs — that's where Eric Dickerson was taken (Rams, 1983) as well as the Colts' Marshall Faulk (1994).

No Hall of Fame quarterbacks have been taken in that slot since Namath, although several good to very good QBs, such as Roman Gabriel and Norm Snead in the early Sixties, Bert Jones in the Seventies and Donovan McNabb in the Nineties, have been plucked there. So have a few that didn't work out, such as Ryan Leaf (1998) and Rick Mirer (1993). Of the four taken No. 2 since 2012 — Robert Griffin ('12), Marcus Mariota ('15), Carson Wentz ('16) and Mitch Trubisky ('17) — only Trubisky was starting at the end of this past season.

Teaser: Feb. 12: The 23rd Overall Pick in Jets and NFL History

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