NFL Draft: Chargers grab Te'o; Jets take QB Smith

2013-04-27T00:00:00Z NFL Draft: Chargers grab Te'o; Jets take QB SmithThe Associated Press The Associated Press
April 27, 2013 12:00 am  • 

NEW YORK - Manti Te'o and Geno Smith provided the sizzle missing from the NFL draft.

Te'o is headed to San Diego, Smith is a Jet, and Radio City Music Hall shook with the kind of noise heard in stadiums when they were selected. The theater rocked with two picks within minutes of each other Friday.

Te'o, the Notre Dame All-America linebacker, was chosen sixth in the second round by the Chargers, drawing a loud roar from the fans. One spot later, the Jets took the West Virginia quarterback, drawing a raucous reaction of cheers and boos.

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 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 40-yard dash times, 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."

USC quarterback Matt Barkley was among those who didn't go in the first three rounds.

The Chargers traded up with Arizona for the No. 38 overall pick 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.

San Diego was willing to gamble on him.

"We did a lot of work on Te'o," first-year general manager Tom Telesco said. "He loves football. He's passionate about it. He loves to practice. He loves to play."

Te'o was the third linebacker chosen in this draft.

"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. "We're all excited. I can't be any happier."

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."

If Smith thought that was tough, wait until he enters the cauldron overseen by Jets coach Rex Ryan, where every move by every QB on the roster is tabloid-Internet fodder for days.

"I'm a competitor and I'm going to accept my role on the team, whatever is handed to me," Smith said, "but my job is to compete day in and day out."

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

Other notable second-round picks Friday were Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter by the Titans, who traded up with San Francisco; Stanford All-America tight end Zach Ertz by Philadelphia; and North Carolina's Gio Bernard, the first running back chosen, by Cincinnati.

After no running backs were selected in the first round, five went in the second. The number of linemen dropped to five.

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.

Tampa Bay's first pick this year was defensive back Johnthan Banks of Mississippi State at No. 43 overall. Washington, which traded it first-rounder last year to draft Robert Griffin III, went for defensive back David Amerson of North Carolina State at No. 51.

New England, known for trading early picks for a bunch of later selections, chose linebacker Jamie Collins of Southern Mississippi at No. 52. Seattle, after trading down six spots with Baltimore, closed out the second round by taking running back Christine Michael of Texas A&M.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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