From Staff Reports
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Geno Smith’s surprising slide through the NFL draft stopped in the second round with the New York Jets.
The former West Virginia star, considered by many to be the top quarterback available in this year’s draft, was taken with the seventh pick in the second round, 39th overall, Friday night. He could be the future replacement for Mark Sanchez.
Smith went from looking embarrassed and frustrated on national TV during Thursday’s first round, sitting back stage at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan as pick after pick came and went and he remained seated and wondered where he’d end up — and when.
He originally planned to head back home, but opted to stay for the second day of the draft.
“Right now, none of that matters,” Smith said during a conference call.
And his wait didn’t take long Friday night even though a few teams that were expected to be in the mix for Smith — Jacksonville, Philadelphia and Arizona — went in other directions.
Former wide receiver Wayne Chrebet took the podium at Radio City to announce the pick, and Jets fans gathered there were loud, with many cheering and others booing.
“When I received the call, I was extremely elated,” Smith said.
The selection of Smith seriously clouds the future of Sanchez, the team’s first-rounder in 2009 who has struggled mightily the past two seasons. Smith could compete for the starting job this season with Sanchez, who is owed $8.25 million in guaranteed money this season.
But the Jets currently have Sanchez, David Garrard, Tim Tebow, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms — and now Smith — as quarterbacks on their roster. Tebow is expected to be traded or released soon, and it now remains to be seen whether Sanchez will remain on the roster by the beginning of the regular season.
The Jets drafted Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner with the ninth overall pick and Missouri defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson at No. 13 — a spot they also considered taking Smith — in the first round Thursday night.
Smith came into the draft with mixed reviews, largely in part because he was considered not as good a prospect as last year’s crop of quarterbacks that included Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill.
Smith was asked if he believes he is a franchise quarterback, and he didn’t hesitate.
“Yeah, I do believe so,” he said, “for a number of reasons.”
Smith, who owns almost all of West Virginia’s passing records, gets rid of the ball quickly, but has had some accuracy problems. He can make completions on the run and is capable of making big plays.
Smith threw for 11,662 yards, 98 touchdowns and only 21 interceptions in four years at West Virginia. The Miami native had dinner with new Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg before the draft, and Mornhinweg reportedly raved about Smith to Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik.