How the Jets and Giants Won the First Round of the NFL Draft

There’s a classic YouTube video titled “NY Jets Draft Blunders” that has amassed nearly two million views. It shows an ESPN-produced montage of Jets fans reacting despair to the team’s draft selections in the ’80s and’ 90s, when the team famously chose quarterback Ken O’Brien over the future Hall of Famer Dan Marino in 1983. In some In cases where the jealousy of the cascade starts at my mention of the position being drafted – a first-round fullback? – Even before the player’s name is revealed.

It’s a 1-minute 38-second snapshot of what the Jets fandom has often been. Recent history has not been much better for those who root for the Giants. Over the past five seasons, the teams share the league’s worst record, 22-59, and a major factor in that inglorious mark has been draft-day decisions that proved worthy of those famous boos.

Which is why what happened Thursday night was in the newsworthy itself: The Jets and the Giants each had good plans for drafting in the first round that they executed well, creating excitement around their selections. In other words, the teams didn’t give their fan bases anything to boo about.

Both entered Round 1 of this year’s NFL Draft with two picks in the top 10, with a godsend for rosters at some of the game’s most important positions. At pick No. 4, The Jets secured the player many evaluators saw as the top cornerback this year, Ahmad Gardner of Cincinnati. With the No. With 10 pick, one of the first-round selections they picked up through the 2020 trade of safety Jamal Adams to Seattle, the Jets added a target for their second-year quarterback Zach Wilson in Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson.

By the time the Giants were on the clock for the first time, defensive players had been taken with each of the first four picks, one of the scenarios the team had gamed in advance. They decided to use the fifth pick on Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, hoping he could help the team have a fearsome pass rush of the day. The Giants knew they could still get one of the top available offensive tackles at the seventh pick, and they did: Alabama’s Evan Neal, who will bookend the line with Andrew Thomas, a 2020 first-round pick.

But at the end of the night, the Jets had one more surprise: They traded back into the first round to nab Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II, a player many analysts expected to be taken in the top half of the first round. General Manager Joe Douglas said at a news conference Thursday that the team was discussing making a move for Johnson around pick no. 15, before striking a deal with the Tennessee Titans to take him at no. 26.

As a result, Douglas told reporters, the Jets landed three of the top eight players on their draft board. And the Jets are still making an early second-round pick Friday night, part of their return from trading quarterback Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers last year.

“You get three impact players at three premium positions – you dream of it happening,” said Coach Robert Saleh. “It was a really good day.”

Of course, there is no guarantee that any draft pick will pan out, no matter how sound a decision it seems at the time. The Philadelphia Eagles once conducted an analysis of the success rate for first-round picks, defining success as a player who became a full-time starter for at least two of his first four seasons, and determined there was about a 50-50 chance. A player on hitting no matter where in the first round he was taken.

But with solid strategies, and a bit of luck, both the Jets and the Giants came out of Round 1 with players who give them a much-improved brand of football than what their fans have had to endure for the last few years. General Chat Chat Lounge

“I’m hungry,” Thibodeaux said. “And I feel like New York is the pinnacle of a dog-eat-dog world.”

Both teams are at inflection points. For Douglas, entering his third draft with the Jets, the roster was still in a place where it needed to get better in a hurry, for the sake of Saleh, Zach Wilson and Douglas himself. And after an uncharacteristic revolving door in East Rutherford, NJ, the Giants’ new regime’s general manager Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll are trying to get the franchise back on course.

There are still six more rounds of the draft, and months before any of these players will play in an NFL game, but Thursday night felt like a win for two organizations that had been in many recent years.

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