NEW YORK (AP) — The most exciting few minutes of the NFL draft came on Day 2.
In the span of a few minutes early in Friday night’s second round, the San Diego Chargers caused draftniks at Radio City Music Hall to let out a roar with the selection of Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o. Just when things were settling down, the New York Jets announced their pick — quarterback Geno Smith. Fans, many clad in Jets jerseys, cheered — and booed.
Te’o, of course, was the victim of a tabloid-ready hoax involving a fake girlfriend. That, and his poor play in the national title game against Alabama, followed by less-than-impressive workouts for pro scouts, had everyone wondering when he would be selected.
Smith, of course, now heads to a team with all kinds of quarterback issues, from starter Mark Sanchez still with the team despite an awful season, Tim Tebow still with the team despite not really getting a chance to play, and three other QBs on the roster for now in David Garrard, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms.
Welcome to San Diego, Manti.
Welcome to the J-E-T-S, Jets, Geno.
Here are 10 things to know about the draft after the first two days. The final four rounds are Saturday.
1. WHAT THEY’RE SAYING IN SAN DIEGO, NEW YORK
“I did expect to go in the first round,” Te’o said. “But things happened and all it did was give me more motivation to get better. I don’t know if I have something to prove, but it definitely puts a huge fire under my butt to just be better.”
Asked if he dropped into the second round because of the off-field issues and his flop in the title game, he said: “I really don’t know. That’s a question that you’ve got to ask the teams.”
Chargers GM Tim Telesco, who traded up seven spots to No. 38 to land Te’o, certainly has no issues with his new guy.
“He’s a great kid,” Telesco said. “We did a lot of work on Te’o and I’ve seen him for a number of years. He loves football. He’s passionate about it. He loves to practice. He loves to play.”
Smith, who was projected as first-rounder, believes he can compete with Sanchez and whoever else is around.
“I love to compete. Mark is a guy who I watched at USC, I watched him in the NFL, and I think highly of him as well as Tim and all of those guys over there,” he said, “As I said, I’m coming in as a rookie and I’m going to compete and I’m also going to accept my role whatever it is.”
Asked if he thinks he’s a franchise QB, he said: “Yes sir. I do believe so and for a number of reasons, but the main thing is that I’m not only coming into practice, I’m going to come into work and I’m going to compete daily and I’m going to also do my best to better my teammates in order for us to win a Super Bowl.”
What does it all mean?
New Jets GM John Idzik says: “What this means for Mark Sanchez is competition, and Mark is open to that. We’ve had discussions about that, and I think he buys into the fact that that helps him and it helps any player on our team, and as a result, it helps our team.”
2. RUNNING BACKS SCORE
A night after no running backs were taken in the first round for the first time since 1963, the second round produced five, and Alabama star Eddie Lacy (expected to be a first-rounder) wasn’t the first to go. Cincinnati gave that distinction to Gio Bernard of North Carolina with the No. 37th overall pick. Then, Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell went to Pittsburgh at No. 48, Wisconsin All-American Montee Ball went to Denver at No. 58, Lacy went to Green Bay at No. 61 and Texas A&M’s Christine Michael went to Seattle at No. 62.
The third round produced one running back — Arkansas’ Knile Davis to Kansas City at No. 96.
Lacy, who ran for 1,322 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, may have dropped because of concerns about his health, including a hamstring problem that prevented him from participating in the NFL combine and working out for scouts a few weeks ago.
“You can’t do anything about it,” Lacy said. “I’m just looking forward to being part of a new team and contributing as much as I can.”
3. STILL ON THE BOARD
Among notable players till on the board entering Saturday’s final four rounds are quarterbacks Matt Barkley of Southern California, Ryan Nassib of Syracuse and Landry Jones of Oklahoma; running back Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina (recovering from a serious knee injury); and two starters from national champion Alabama, offensive lineman Barrett Jones and defensive tackle Jesse Williams.
4. VIKINGS STRONG
Minnesota did not have a second or third-round pick Friday night because they had a huge first round Thursday night with three picks — DT Sharrif Floyd (Florida) at No. 23, DB Xavier Rhodes (Florida State) at No. 25 and a last-second deal with New England moved the Vikings up to snag WR Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee) at No. 29.
“I don’t think it could’ve worked out any better for the caliber of players we got coming into our program,” Vikings GM Rick Spielman said. “I’m very excited.”
The Vikings, coming off a surprising run to the playoffs spearheaded by running back Adrian Peterson, immediately filled three of their biggest needs. A linebacker by the end of the draft and Minnesota will have hit on all cylinders.
Not bad for a team that started last season in what was expected to be a rebuilding one.
5. FINALLY, A PICK
Four teams did not have first-round picks, but stepped up in the second round to start filling their needs. Tampa Bay was the first of the four to pick, going for defensive back Johnthan Banks of Mississippi State at No. 43 overall. Washington, which lost its first-rounder in last year’s deal to draft Robert Griffin III, went for defensive back David Amerson of North Carolina State at No. 51 overall. New England, known for trading early picks for a bunch of later picks, chose linebacker Jamie Collins of Southern Mississippi at No. 52, and Seattle — after trading down six spots with Baltimore — closed out the second round by taking running back Christine Michael of Texas A&M.
6. FOREIGN FLAVOR
Defensive end Ziggy Ansah of BYU led a parade of international players into the NFL.
Ansah, from Ghana, didn’t even know how to put on shoulder pads a few years ago. On Thursday, he was the No. 5 overall pick by the Detroit Lions.
Also going in the first round was Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner from Germany (Indianapolis, No. 24). Two more went in the second round, SMU defensive end Margus Hunt from Estonia (No. 53, Cincinnati) and Florida State offensive tackle Menelik Watson from Britain (Oakland, No. 42). The third round saw Connecticut linebacker Cisio Moore from Liberia go to Oakland at No. 66. Still on the board is Alabama defensive tackle Jess Williams from Australia.
7. WHERE ARE THE QUARTERBACKS?
As predicted, quarterbacks were not popular in the first round, and not too popular in the second- and third-rounds, either. After Buffalo surprised nearly everyone by picking Florida State’s EJ Manuel as the only QB in the first round (at No. 16), the next to go was West Virginia’s Geno Smith by the New York Jets in the second round, at No. 39, and North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon by Tampa Bay in the third round, at No. 73. Of course, stars such as Tom Brady, Drew Brees and even Russell Wilson weren’t first-rounders, either.
8. MY TEAM’S BETTER THAN YOURS
In a game of one-upmanship, former players from Dallas (Tony Casillas), Pittsburgh (Merril Hoge) and the New York Giants (Rich Seubert) got the fans going before announcing the second-round picks for their teams.
Casillas stepped up to the podium and called out … “still America’s team,” the Dallas Cowboys select …
Next up was Hoge, who chimed in with “the only team to win six Super Bowls,” and then made Pittsburgh’s choice.
And next in the sequence came Seubert, who simply said, “Go Giants!” before announcing New York’s pick.
The crowd at Radio City, of course, booed Casillas and Hoge, and cheered Seubert.
9. LEAN BEEF
The second day of the draft was not for heavyweights. After 18 offensive and defensive linemen totaling nearly 2½ tons were selected in the first round, the second round dropped to five. The third round, though, saw 12 linemen taken. Of course, teams turned their attentions to skill positions, with eight wide receivers and 17 defensive backs taken Friday night.
10. CONFERENCE LEADERS
To the surprise of no one, the Southeastern Conference has provided the NFL with the most draft picks of any conference — 32 of 97 so far. That’s one-third of the newest class of the NFL players. The SEC breakdown is 12 in the first round, eight in the second and 12 in the third. Stay tuned for the next four rounds.
No. 2 is the Atlantic Coast Conference with 12, including six first-rounders.
Follow Richard Rosenblatt on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/rosenblattap