Geno Smith stayed in New York for Round 2 and now he’s apparently staying there to start his NFL career.
The Jets made Smith their selection at No. 39 overall, a pick that had NFL Network analyst Rich Eisen chortling, “If we could only have a camera on Mark Sanchez right now!”
Smith, so despondent after being bypassed in the first round on Thursday night, sounded far more energized Friday evening. From the stage of Radio City Music Hall, the WVU standout said: “I’m ready to compete, ready to go in there and try to win a starting job.”
He then told Jets fans, “We’re going to the playoffs next year.”
Not everyone was surprised to see Smith slip into the second round.
“When I look at him, to be brutally honest, I think he fell right where he should have been, based on his tape,” NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock said. “There are four or five games that are not even worthy of a fifth-round grade. There are others where you say he’s a first-round pick.”
While Jets waded shoulder-deep into a quarterbacking controversy by acquiring Tim Tebow last season, their selection of Smith figures to stimulate more drama. New York gave Sanchez a three-year extension before last season, but the $37.75 million due from 2014-2016 is not guaranteed.
While acknowledging New York needed to address its poor quarterback play in light of Sanchez’s struggles, former NFL general manager Charley Casserly warned Smith isn’t prepared to excel as a rookie.
“No, he is not ready to start, and this is not me being negative because he was my No. 1-rated quarterback,” Casserly said. “But everybody I talked to said the best thing for this guy was to sit for a year and learn.”
The Jets reportedly were primed to pounce on Tavon Austin at No. 9 overall before St. Louis traded up to the eighth slot on Thursday.
Assuming subsequent picks played out in similar fashion, that means the Jets nearly paired Smith with his former college teammate.
WHO ELSE PASSED GENO?
A glimpse at the teams with quarterback issues who passed on Smith early in Friday’s second round:
Jacksonville picks FIU safety John Cyprien at No. 33. The Jaguars were thought to be leaking confidence in Blaine Gabbert, the No. 10 overall pick from 2011 who has 21 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 24 starts. And his backup is five-year pro Chad Henne, who sports more career picks (48) than touchdowns (42). But Cyprien addressed a need after Jacksonville lost four members from last season’s secondary.
Though Smith might have welcomed the chance to launch an NFL career in his home state, well, it’s Jacksonville.
Philadelphia selects Stanford tight end Zach Ertz at No. 35. The Eagles have Michael Vick re-signed to a 1-year deal, but he turns 33 in June and is coming off two turnover-doomed seasons that produced only a 10-13 record as a starter.
Rookie Nick Foles appeared in seven games last season and was a mistake machine himself (six interceptions and five fumbles). In February, Philadelphia added five-year journeyman Dennis Dixon, whose nondescript NFL career followed a senior season in which he flourished at Oregon under Kelly’s tutelage as offensive coordinator.
Arizona trades No. 38 pick to San Diego: The Cardinals replaced Kevin Kolb and John Skelton with 33-year-old Carson Palmer and sixth-year free agent Drew Stanton. Palmer restructured his Raiders contract upon coming over from Oakland and has two years remaining at a cap-friendly rate.
Instead, the Cardinals traded the spot to the Chargers who selected pre-draft drama king Manti Te’o.