Quarterback Geno Smith, a four-year starter at West Virginia, was selected in the second round of the NFL draft Friday by the New York Jets with the 39th overall pick, giving the team some depth at a position that has been a problem since Mark Sanchez’s struggles intensified last season.
Smith, a 6-foot-2, 218-pound playmaker, became the first quarterback in Mountaineers history to pass for 10,000 yards.
Considered by many to be the top quarterback in the draft because of his athleticism in the mold of the Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin III, Smith slipped to the second round when the Buffalo Bills opted to select Florida State’s EJ Manuel with the 16th selection in the first round. No other team chose a quarterback in the first round.
“It’s a test of patience,” Smith said of falling to the second round of the draft. “It’s kind of ironic that you see that you’re put in that position.”
Smith improved his accuracy and efficiency each season at West Virginia, completing 71.2% of his passes with 42 touchdowns and only six interceptions his senior season. He passed for 4,385 yards and 31 touchdowns as a junior and 4,205 yards as a senior.
Sanchez, in his fourth year out of USC, had a losing record for the first time as the Jets’ starting quarterback last season, going 6-9, and at times was pulled in favor of former Alabama star Greg McElroy. The Jets, who played Tim Tebow sparingly at quarterback, signed former Jaguars starter David Garrard this offseason.
Sanchez completed only 54.3% of his passes last season for 2,883 yards and 12 touchdowns, his lowest totals since his rookie season in 2009. His quarterback rating, 66.9, also was his lowest since ’09.