Geno Smith has no assurance of a starting job and is one of five quarterbacks on the New York Jets’ roster. Still, he’s favored by oddsmakers to win the 2013 National Football League offensive rookie of the year award.
The former West Virginia University signal-caller was among three players invited to attend last week’s draft who were not selected in the first round, a slight he said was “tough to stomach.” Smith finally went 39th to the Jets, who also have quarterbacks Mark Sanchez, David Garrard, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms left after cutting Tim Tebow.
Jets first-year general manager John Idzik said there will be open competition for the team’s quarterback job after Sanchez, a first-round pick in 2009, was benched late last season. Smith’s opportunity for playing time with a rebuilding franchise that’s missed the playoffs the past two years is the main reason he’s a 5-1 favorite to join Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton and Sam Bradford as the fourth straight quarterback to win the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year award.
“My goal is to be a starting quarterback, to be a franchise quarterback, but at this time in the process the only thing I can focus on is the present and I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me,” Smith said on the Jets’ website. “I’m just going to continue to hone in on the playbook, work on my footwork, work on everything I need to be prepared.”
Smith, 22, was the second quarterback drafted this year, taken 23 spots after the Buffalo Bills selected E.J. Manuel of Florida State. Three wide receivers were taken among the top 32 picks, while no running backs were drafted in the opening round for the first time since 1963.
One of Smith’s top targets at West Virginia, wide receiver Tavon Austin, was the first non-lineman drafted this year -- going eighth overall to the St. Louis Rams. Austin is the second favorite to win the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year award, with 13-2 odds at Jamaica-based online sportsbook TheGreek.com.
Minnesota Vikings receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, the 29th pick, is tied at 8-1 odds with running backs Montee Ball of the Denver Broncos and Eddie Lacy of the Green Bay Packers. Ball and Lacy were among the final five second-round picks.
Wide receiver Percy Harvin was the last non-quarterback to win the rookie award, with the Minnesota Vikings in 2009.
Manuel has 20-1 odds of being named the NFL’s top offensive rookie, tied for 18th among first-year players.
The lack of offensive playmakers drafted in the first round this year was a stark contrast to 2012, when quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Griffin went 1-2. Griffin then won the rookie award over Luck, who had been the oddsmakers’ preseason pick.
Smith said not being taken in the first round will provide incentive as he begins his NFL career in New York. A four-year starter at West Virginia, Smith threw for a school-record 11,662 yards, with 98 touchdowns and 21 interceptions while completing 67 percent of his passes.
“I’ve always played with a chip on my shoulder, I’ve always been considered an underdog, here is no different,” Smith said. “That’s just extra motivation.”
Smith will be given a chance to win the Jets’ job due to Sanchez’s recent struggles. Sanchez has committed 52 turnovers the past two seasons and hasn’t completed more than 56.7 percent of his passes over four seasons in the NFL.
Smith, shortly after being drafted, said in an interview with NFL Network that the Jets will make the playoffs this season. Idzik said he appreciates that Smith has a strong belief in both himself and the team.
“As a rookie he believes this team is good enough to go to the playoffs and certainly those are the expectations that we set for ourselves always,” Idzik said. “That’s what you strive for. I don’t know, we’ll see if that pans out. But certainly I think that’s the right mentality to have.”
ODDS TO WIN NFL’S OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF YEAR AWARD Player NFL Team Odds ================================================== Geno Smith New York Jets 5-1 Tavon Austin St. Louis Rams 13-2 Montee Ball Denver Broncos 8-1 Eddie Lacy Green Bay Packers 8-1 C. Patterson Minnesota Vikings 8-1 Tyler Eifert Cincinnati Bengals 10-1 DeAndre Hopkins Houston Texans 12-1 Keenan Allen San Diego Chargers 15-1 Stedman Bailey St. Louis Rams 15-1 Le’Veon Bell Pittsburgh Steelers 15-1 Giovani Bernard Cincinnati Bengals 15-1 Zach Ertz Philadelphia Eagles 15-1 Eric Fisher Kansas City Chiefs 15-1 J. Franklin Green Bay Packers 15-1 Justin Hunter Tennessee Titans 15-1 Luke Joeckel Jacksonville Jaguars 15-1 Robert Woods Buffalo Bills 15-1 Denard Robinson Jacksonville Jaguars 20-1 E.J. Manuel Buffalo Bills 20-1