Jets all-time #1 bust, Blair Thomas
There is nothing quite like the NFL Draft. It is such a unique and unparalleled event in sports that sparks so many reactions from fans and pundits alike. There is no other time during the year that will creates more fodder for fan's fears and hopes than their favorite teams picking seven or eight collegiate players. It is almost ironic how many predictions are made from an event that has the most unpredictable of outcomes; an event that is widely claimed to be the biggest crapshoot in sports.
In the days leading up to the draft almost every fan scours any and all forms of media to familiarize themselves with as many possible draftees as they can. They research combine scores, individual stats, and the level of competition each prospective player faced throughout their college career. Everyone begins creating mock drafts and hoping that the players they believe will help the team they root for is selected.
According to which Jet fan you spoke with, the question as to which of the glaring needs the team needed to address first seemed to vary with each answer. The Jets had to get younger and quicker at linebacker; they needed a tall physical wide receiver, a viable kick returner, a place kicker, and more depth at both offensive line and defensive tackle. Everyone had an idea of which was more important and which player available should get picked.
Wherever you look for fan reaction on the draft you see those who believe that the team solidified the front four and potentially created a defense that can wreak havoc on opposing offenses. You can also find the group of fans who are skeptical and see holes that were not filled and wonder who will replace Chad Morton and Laveranues Coles.
This years draft seems to have drawn out two types of reactions from the Jets faithful; either they made an incredibly bold move and insured that the team gets to the next level or they missed the boat and will toil at the bottom of the AFC eastern division. Amazing
The fate of the Jets according to most now rests on the shoulders of first round pick Dewayne Robertson. Jet fans either believe he is the second coming of Warren Sapp or he better be. In fact, the nickname "Baby Sapp" has been floating around when mentioning Dewayne. General manager Terry Bradway either saved his job by making the moves to select him or sold the team down the river by giving away too much. Each of these impulses is unfair.
Robertson is projected by many to become a great player in the league and was coveted by many teams in the draft. That doesn't mean it will translate on the field and generate more of what all Jet fans want; which are wins. There have been plenty of players picked high in drafts past who did not live up to expectations. The Jets almost have cornered the market of draft busts littered with manes like Lam Jones and Blair Thomas; so it is somewhat understandable for Jet fans to be leery of jumping on any bandwagons yet.
What isn't understandable though is how extreme both responses seem to be. There are outcries of seeming despair or exalts of boisterous glee.
I have a plea to all my fellow Jet fans...RELAX! There are many steps to go still this off-season that will shape this team. There are un-drafted rookie free agents to be brought into camp and looked at and a sometimes-magical date of June 1st where many veteran players get released and look for work elsewhere. There are still options and opportunities that lie ahead for this team.
We should remember that with the current salary cap structure this is the state of the NFL today. Teams rosters now have significant turnover and many holes to fill each season.
Jet fans will now watch all of this year's newcomers closely during training camp and throughout the season declaring whether they are busts or steals. Then when the campaign is over no matter the outcome they will begin to pencil in where they perceive all the new deficiencies and it will all start over again.
The days leading up to and right after the draft are exciting and controversial and the fan fervor is electric and illustrates the passion that this sport induces but hopefully everyone keeps things in perspective.