April 27, 2013

Te’o, Smith highlight second-day picks

San Diego moves up to draft Manti Te’o, and the Jets take West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith.

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Manti Te’o is headed to San Diego.

Geno Smith is a Jet.

Radio City Music Hall was relatively silent for five second-round picks Thursday night. Then the theater shook with two selections within minutes of each other.

Te’o, the Notre Dame All-America linebacker, was chosen sixth in the second round by the Chargers, drawing a roar. One spot later, the Jets took Smith, the West Virginia quarterback, drawing a raucous but mixed reaction.

Early in Friday’s proceedings, the big names had taken over from the bulk and beef of opening night, when 18 linemen went in the first round.

Te’o, who led the Fighting Irish to the national championship game, was projected as a first-rounder last year. But his poor performance in a rout at the hands of Alabama, some slow workouts, and a tabloid-ready hoax involving a fake girlfriend that became a national soap opera dropped his stock.

“I did expect to go in the first round,” Te’o said. “But things happened and all it did was give me more motivation.”

When former Chargers defensive back Jim Hill was handed the card to make the announcement by Commissioner Roger Goodell, he was told, “You’re going to get a big cheer when you announce this pick.”

It was more a mix of surprise and recognition of the most talked-about player in the draft finally finding a landing spot at No. 38 overall.

The Chargers traded up with Arizona to grab Te’o, the Heisman Trophy runner-up. Te’o ran a 4.82-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, slow for a linebacker. He did better at Notre Dame’s pro day, but NFL teams already had plenty of football reasons to doubt his worthiness as a first-round pick.

“It’s a perfect scenario. My parents can come and watch, I can go home, it’s San Diego,” said Te’o, a native of Hawaii.

With the very next pick, the Jets sent their QB situation spiraling into further chaos. They already have Mark Sanchez, who struggled last season but was brought back in great part because of a prohibitive contract. They still have Tim Tebow, who almost certainly soon will be cut. They signed David Garrard, who hasn’t played in the NFL since 2010.

And now there is Smith, who waited futilely throughout the first round, returned to the theater Friday and was rewarded.

“It’s extremely relieving. I withstood the test of time,” he said. “It felt like forever in there.”

After no running backs were selected in the first round, there were five taken in the second.

The presumed top-rated running back, Eddie Lacy of Alabama, went with the next-to-last selection of the round, to Green Bay.

NCAA record-setting RB Montee Ball of Wisconsin was chosen by Denver.

Safety Johnathan Cyprien of Florida International was the first pick of the second round, taken by the Jaguars. Cyprien was a standout in the Sun Belt Conference and solidified his stock with an excellent performance in the Senior Bowl.

“He’s got a passion for the game,” Jaguars Coach Gus Bradley said. “He is very animated. He just enjoys it. He loves to play the game. I think he’s going to add to what we have here and the attitude that we’re looking for.”

Arizona added some spice to the third round by selecting former LSU cornerback-kick returner Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu was a 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist, but LSU dismissed him from the team last August for failing a drug test. He was arrested in late October after police said they found marijuana at Mathieu’s apartment.

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