If any franchise knows a thing or two about draft disappointment, it’s the god damn Jets. New York seems to be in their 8th consecutive “rebuilding year.” This is what happens when you waste high draft picks on players like Dee Milliner and Christian Hackenberg. While those might sting mightily, they’re not quite as bad as Vernon Gholston.
Heading into the 2008 season the Jets sorely needed pass rushers. They struggled to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but they were in luck. Gholston was coming off a successful career at Ohio State and was thought to be the top pass rusher in the draft. He had great length to match up with his freaky strength (37 reps on the bench press as the combine.) He also ran a 4.58 40 yard dash despite weighing 265 pounds.
The Jets drafted him at 6th overall and he was expected to be an immediate starter and impact player at outside linebacker. Instead he played mostly specials teams during his rookie year. During his 2nd season he only registered 17 tackles and seemed to struggle as a stand up pass rusher. During the 2009 season the Jets converted him back to his original position as a defensive end. This still didn’t yield the results that New York was hoping for when they selected him.
After 3 seasons the Jets released him in 2011 due to being ineffective. During his career he only totaled 42 tackles and never registered a single sack, according to ESPN while he was in the NFL over 600 players registered at least one sack. He had two short stints with the Bears and the Rams but never made it to the regular season with either team. After 3 full seasons the 6th overall pick in 2008 was out of the NFL for good.
Under Rex Ryan the Jets were known for their tough as nails defense, Gholston was supposed to provide a new element that they had been missing. Instead they wasted a high pick on a player who looked like an UDFA. When they selected him they following defensive studs were still on the board; Jerod Mayo, Aqib Talib, and 2017 sack specialist Calais Campbell. Not to mention offensive players like Duane Brown, Jordy Nelson, Matt Forte, and DeSean Jackson.
After years of wallowing in the bottom of the AFC East, it finally seems as if the Jets are almost over the hump. They added two rookie sensations at the safety position and had a breakout star in receiver Robby Anderson. This feels like the year that they find their QB1, whether it’s FA jewel Kirk Cousins or drafting a player like Broadway Baker Mayfield (you’re welcome for the great nickname if he ends up there.) They should be able to compete with New England who seems like they could finally be coming to an end of dominance.