NFL Jets Draft Quarterback Geno Smith; Manti Te’o Ends Long Wait
Geno Smith was taken by the New York Jets with the 39th overall choice in the National Football League draft, joining a team that has five other quarterbacks on its roster.
Smith’s selection came one pick after linebacker Manti Te’o was chosen by the San Diego Chargers. Smith, from West Virginia University, and Te’o, from the University of Notre Dame, were passed over in the first round before being taken with consecutive picks early in yesterday’s second round at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
Smith was left waiting in the green room adjacent to the stage for three hours and 33 minutes on the first day of the draft, one of four players who accepted an invitation to the first round and was not selected.
“I think it was a test of patience, a test of character,” Smith told reporters in a conference call.
Smith, who joins a Jets team that already includes quarterbacks Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, David Garrard, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms, was a four-year starter at West Virginia, passing for 11,662 yards and 98 touchdowns in his college career. He threw for more than 300 yards in a game 17 times.
New Jets General Manager John Idzik said last month that he wanted to bring in competition to push Sanchez, the team’s starter for most of the past four seasons who committed an NFL-high 26 turnovers, including 18 interceptions, last year.
``I think Geno Smith will be the starter Week 1 versus Tampa Bay,'' former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner said last night on the NFL Network. ``Mark Sanchez will be there and he will be holding the clipboard.''
The Jets added guard Brian Winters from Kent State in the third round.
Connecticut had three players chosen in a seven-pick span of the third round -- cornerback Dwayne Gratz went to Jacksonville, linebacker Sio Moore to Oakland and cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson to Tennessee. Rutgers defensive backfield teammates Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon both were taken by New England in the third round.
The three-day draft concludes today with rounds four through seven.
Te’o, 22, the Heisman Trophy runner-up as college football’s best player last season, was selected by the Chargers with the sixth selection of the second round, the 38th pick overall.
“We thought he was the most instinctive and productive linebacker in the draft,” said San Diego General Manager Tom Telesco, who traded up to pick Te’o. “We thought in order to get him we had to be aggressive and go up and do it.”
As a senior, Te’o finished second to Johnny Manziel in the Heisman voting after spearheading a Notre Dame defense that allowed the fewest points of any team at college football’s top level. Te’o had a team-leading 103 tackles and seven interceptions as the Fighting Irish went 12-0 and earned the No. 1 national ranking and a spot in the national championship game.
Te’o, who received the Nagurski Award as college football’s best defensive player and the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker, began facing criticism after Notre Dame was routed 42-14 by the University of Alabama in January’s Bowl Championship Series title game.
About a week later, it was revealed that Te’o had been caught in a hoax involving a fake online girlfriend and lied about it in media interviews during the lead-up to the national title game. Te’o said he was fooled into believing his fake girlfriend had died of leukemia in September and didn’t lie about the situation until December, when he became aware she didn’t actually exist.
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