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It’s been a while since Iowa State had a first-round pick in the NFL draft. To be exact, 49 years.
That streak almost came to an end this year when the New York Jets tried to trade up to take Breece Hall late in the first round.
“We were active,” Jets general manager Joe Douglas said. “We were on the phone toward the end of the round.”
Instead, New York traded up two spots early in the second round to take Hall with the 36th overall pick.
Now, the Jets are looking forward to adding an “explosive” running back and a “home-run hitter” to their backfield.
“Part of the goal was to add some guys that when they touch the ball, they can take it 80 (yards),” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said.
That big-play potential is tantalizing for an offense that ranked 28th in scoring in 2021.
“One of the hardest things to do in football is to live in 10-play drives,” Saleh said. “To be able to have a couple of one- or two-play drives every once in a while will be welcomed.”
Hall’s new head coach was especially complimentary of his elusiveness.
“Breece just has a slipperiness to make people miss,” Saleh said.
The 5-foot-11 back told NFL Network he anticipates being a “three-down back who can do it all.”
He’ll join a handful of other weapons in the Jets’ backfield who have shown varying levels of success at the NFL level.
“Our group is pretty explosive now between Michael (Carter), him, Tevin Coleman, Ty (Johnson),” Saleh said. “It’s a really, really cool group to work with right now.”
Hall, the first running back taken in this year’s draft, will likely be the leader of that quartet in East Rutherford, N.J.
The Jets’ pick made some history for the Cyclones. Hall was the highest-picked Iowa State player since 2012 and the highest-picked Iowa State running back since 1973, when George Amundson went 14th overall to the Houston Oilers.
Hall — and surely his checkbook, too — certainly wouldn’t have minded being a first-round pick like Amundson, but he’s still content to be taken where he was.
“It was kind of a bummer, but I’m still blessed to be a Jet and I'm blessed to be able to have the opportunity to come on here,” Hall said in his NFL Network interview on the NFL Draft stage.
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