But the Jets saw the 6-5, 250-pounder as something others didn't: A rush backer. Lageman had been an inside linebacker at Virginia but with his height, he didn't project well at that position. But he could run and had a lot of length, good traits for a 3-4 outside linebacker Jets brass reasoned. It was a gamble.
Then Lageman got a break.
After the bye, the club went 6-1 and then beat Buffalo and Denver in the playoffs before succumbing to the Patriots, one game short of the Super Bowl.