Ex-Jets coach Eric Mangini recalls first draft pick, a skinny kid named Brick

The retiring D'Brickashaw Ferguson will say goodbye to the NFL in a news conference at 11 a.m. Thursday at One Jets Drive. Current and former New York Jets teammates are planning to attend, along with owner Woody Johnson.

One person who won't be there is former coach Eric Mangini, who played an integral role in the decision to draft Ferguson in 2006.

Mangini and general manager Mike Tannenbaum, both rookies in their respective jobs, made Ferguson their first draft choice -- fourth overall. Obviously, it worked out well. Mangini, currently out of coaching after working last season as the San Francisco 49ers' defensive coordinator, shared his memories and thoughts on Ferguson this week in an interview with ESPN.com. Mangini coached him from 2006 to 2008.

The team's thought process leading into the draft: "The decision came down to Vernon Davis and Brick. Brick was just so ridiculously athletic for a guy his height. From a left-tackle perspective, athletically, he was everything you were looking for. We thought he'd play 10 to 15 years in the league, and be 'that guy.' He was very mature for his age. We were looking for someone with strong intangibles, and he hit all the benchmarks. The one thing that concerned us was his weight; it was a huge issue his rookie year. He was on the skinny side and he took his share of lumps early on, but he grew into his body and got better."

Ferguson's pre-draft visit to the Jets: "I'm pretty sure he showed up in a suit and tie. He was really well spoken and he did a great job in the interview. Everybody liked him. We did a ton of research on him and there weren't many people who had anything negative to say about him."

Early memories of him as a player: "Brick struggled early on. Remember that player we had from Ohio Northern, Jason Trusnik? He'd wear Brick out in practice. He was a high-motor player, and he'd wear him out. But I tell you what, Brick kept going back at him. He was so long and had those long arms. Once he built up his weight and strength, he was tough to deal with. ... He had a rare combination of talents, not only what he presented on the field, but off the field as well. For me, personally, it was very satisfying. He was the type of player I wanted to fill the building with.

Ferguson's durability -- only one missed snap in 10 years: "That's amazing. God, that's fantastic. And he's healthy? Wow. He's walking away healthy and very wealthy. Things worked out for him, too [laughing]."

His only missed snap was a gadget play at the end of the 2008 season, when Mangini replaced the entire offensive line with skill-position players (Darrelle Revis took Ferguson's spot at left tackle): "Well, at least I put in a good draft pick for him [laughing]."

Final thoughts: "I couldn't be happier for him. I saw that [former Jet] Mike DeVito retired, too. Those were great guys to have in your locker room. They played so hard and it's so nice to see them have success. For Brick to get so much out of the league, and be financially secure, it's a real success story. Not only should the Jets celebrate it, but the NFL should celebrate it as well."