Thoughtful coverage for thinking fans.
Sometimes we get so caught up in all of the glitz and glamour associated with the first two or three rounds of the NFL draft that we forget it’s possible for good players and outstanding franchise servants to be found in the rounds below. So, here’s a chance for more mature Jets fans to reminisce and younger ones to increase their knowledge as we look at the top five New York Jets who came in beneath the draft radar and were selected in the fifth round or below during the past 25 years.
5: Roger Duffy (C) – Drafted 1990 – Round 8 (196) – Started 70 Games
The Jets boast a rich history when it comes to having first-rate centers on their books, and although former Penn State man Duffy’s name isn’t quite up there alongside that of Guy Bingham – the man who’s shoes he was drafted to eventually step into – or the legend who finally replaced him – the imperious Kevin Mawae – he did provide a solid option in the middle of the front five for many years. Having spent the first four years of his Jets career as a back-up, Duffy made the transition to full-time starter in 1994 and then held that spot until he eventually left for Pittsburgh in 1998.
4: Marvin Washington (DE) – Drafted 1989 – Round 6 (151) – Started 90 Games
Washington was unfortunate enough to play for the Jets during the wilderness years of the early and mid-1990’s, but despite the lack of talent around him, he still managed to put up impressive numbers. His biggest season came in 1992 when his 8.5 sacks and 62 tackles were among the few positives to be taken from a woeful 4-12 campaign.
3: Dwayne White (G) – Drafted 1990 – Round 7 (167) – Started 68 Games
Former Alcorn State lineman Dwayne White will probably be best remembered by most Jets fans as being an absolute giant of a man. In fact, his enormous appetite led to clauses being inserted into his 1992 contract with the aim of encouraging him to report in at camp weighing 312 lbs or less. On the field he was a key member of the Jets’ “Road Grading” short-yardage unit, and after leaving New Jersey in 1995 he went on to enjoy two successful seasons in St Louis.
2: Marcus Coleman (DB) – Drafted 1996 – Round 5 (133) – Started 48 Games
Coleman received a pretty harsh welcome to pro football as he was forced to endure a 1-15 campaign during his rookie season. Although he started the occasional game at the beginning of his career, he didn’t really nail down his place in the weekly lineup until 1999. Equally at home playing at cornerback or safety, he went on to enjoy happier times when featuring in the 1998-99 AFC Championship game and also the legendary Monday Night Miracle against the Miami Dolphins in 2000. Coleman left the Jets when he was selected by the Houston Texans during the 2002 expansion draft.
1: Jason Ferguson (DT) – Drafted 1997 – Round 7 (227) – Started 83 Games
Had it not been for the fact that he tested positive for marijuana at the pre-draft NFL Combine, the chances are that Ferguson would never have dropped to the seventh round. But while every other franchise in the league was turned off the idea of drafting the former Georgia man, Jets coach Bill Parcells invited him to visit with the club during the weeks leading up to the draft. Parcells later admitted that he was only persuaded to select Ferguson with the 227th pick after a lengthy conversation with then Bulldogs coach Jim Donnan.
Ferguson earned the starting role in 1998, but the following year his substance abuse issues returned and he was suspended after being caught with steroids in his system. Nonetheless, his impressive on-field performances were enough to earn him a bumper $12 million contract in 2001. When he became a free agent in 2005, the formerly doubtful Parcells – who was now in charge of the Dallas Cowboys – moved quickly to land his services for a second time. He finished his career in Miami after being signed for a third time by Parcells in 2008.
Do you have any memories of these players – good or bad? Do you think there are other players who should be on this list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.