Source: Jets had E.J. Manuel rated higher than Geno Smith

Geno Smith benched
Geno Smith was benched in his second game against the Bills.
Credit: Getty Images

Geno Smith has one game left this season to prove the Jets were wrong in their assessment of him leading into the NFL Draft.

Sources tell Metro New York that Smith was second on the Jets’ board prior to the NFL Draft, behind Bills starting quarterback E.J. Manuel. The Bills seemed to concur with the Jets’ draft assessment as they made Manuel the top quarterback taken in the draft at No. 16 overall.

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, tells Metro “the Jets had a late first-round grade on both Manuel and Smith, but they had Manuel higher.”

The Bills “reached” in their selection, according to another source, by taking Manuel where they did in the first round. The source went on to say the Jets would have been comfortable taking Manuel where they took Smith in the second round, or later in the first round if they had moved back.

Smith was the second quarterback taken in the NFL Draft at No. 39 overall.

Manuel has completed 58.8 percent of his passes this year for 1,972 yards with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Taken 23 picks later, Smith is No. 37 in the league in QBR (seven slots behind Manuel) and he is second in the league with 21 interceptions. It appears that the Bills — and the Jets as well — were right in their initial assessment of the two rookies.

To his credit, Smith’s 2,856 passing yards were a team record for a rookie. Head coach Rex Ryan said of Smith on Thursday, “As far as his play, he’s come a million miles.”

According to the second source, “Manuel was the more polished quarterback with the higher ceiling,” which is why the Jets had him ranked above Smith.

Jets notes …

» Head coach Rex Ryan said tight end Kellen Winslow was sent home from Thursday’s practice due to illness.

» Another Jets player who didn’t practice on Thursday was cornerback Ellis Lankster, who has a right jaw injury. During the bye week last month, Lankster had his wisdom teeth removed. But in Week 15, Lankster took a shot to his right jaw during a special teams play, on the same side where he had the teeth pulled. An infection set in, the dentist believes, “from the fingers of the doctors in my mouth.” He has since felt spasms extending from his right ear down the entirety of his jaw.

“I’m eating only yogurt and noodles,” Lankster told Metro. “Not even hard cereal.”

» Jets wide receiver David Nelson had two touchdown catches last Sunday, his first touchdowns of the season. Nelson has been a nice midseason addition to the Jets’ receiving corps and fans have been clamoring for him to re-sign next season.

Metro New York has learned Nelson signed a two-year contract with the team and is expected to be back next season.

» Last week, the Jets announced Isaiah Trufant was the winner of the Ed Block Courage Award, as voted on by his teammates. The reason, Trufant said, “is overcoming my offseason surgeries.” Trufant is a special teams standout who is in the final year of his contract with the Jets.

“My knee feels great,” Trufant said. “I feel very fluid.”

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.


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