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Closer Look

Jets make the most of their four first-round picks

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Posted: Sunday April 16, 2000 10:35 AM

  South Carolina's John Abraham was the Jets' choice with the first of their four first-round picks. Andy Lyons/Allsport

By David Harsanyi,

NEW YORK -- Two years ago, the New York Jets were a mere 10 minutes away from the Super Bowl. Now, the organization and its fans brace for what looks like another season of rebuilding.

But ask Jets fans about their current predicament, and all you get is a blaring "J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets!"

Since heading into the fourth quarter of their AFC Championship game against the Broncos up 10-0, the Jets and their faithful have gone through a lot -- the loss of messianic head coach Bill Parcells, sidekick Bill Belichik, revered owner Leon Hess, and now, star receiver Keyshawn Johnson.

But the Jets' faithful remain as fanatic as ever. Today they have turned out in full force for what may turn out to be one of the most important days in the franchise's history.

New York received the 13th and 27th overall picks from Tampa Bay in the Johnson trade, giving the team an NFL-record four first-round picks in this year's draft.

Ask one Jets fan what they need in the draft, and any fan within earshot will give you his or her opinions on the matter. Inevitably, a frenzied conversation ensues, disagreements are aired -- but always a consensus is reached: "J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets"

Once the draft begins, the crowd -- a sea of green and white -- isn't shy about voicing its opinion.

At No. 12 the Jets use their first pick to select Shaun Ellis, a dynamic pass rusher who led Tennessee with 8 1/2 sacks last season and is considered one of the top athletes in the draft.

The fans react positively to the pick.

With the next pick the Jets select South Carolina linebacker John Abraham, who emerged as one of the top pass rushers in the country last season.

The crowd is not happy -- showering Abraham with boos.

"How about a wide receiver?" yells a face-painted Jets' supporter, momentarily forgetting about fan favorite Wayne Cherbet. "Who's going to catch the ball?"

With the 18th pick the Jets select Marshall quarterback Chad Pennington, a player projected to go in the top 10 and began his career throwing to Randy Moss.

Jets fans love that one.

With their final pick in the first round at No. 27, New York selects Anthony Becht, a tight end out of West Virginia.

Ambivalent, for the first time in the draft, the Jets fans are relieved. They have some new names to take home with them. Some new names to give them hope.

So, I ask a Jets fan on his way out, how do you think the team did today?

"J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets!"

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