It is the end of the “Sanchise.”
After using both of their first-round picks Thursday night on the defensive side of the ball, the Jets addressed their most pressing need by going after offense, taking quarterback Geno Smith with the No. 39 overall selection. It likely spells the beginning of the end for incumbent starter Mark Sanchez, who was taken in the first round four years ago and was supposed to be the face of the franchise.
Smith joins free agent signee David Garrard not to mention Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy as quarterbacks on the roster.
Smith was a popular Top-10 pick in most mock drafts but fell out of the first round as teams were uncertain about his ability to consistently make throws along with questions about his technique.
“I’m going to come in with the right mentality. I’m going to come in and work,” Smith said. “I’m going to make sure that I put my best foot forward. I’m going to be dedicated and try to come in and be a leader and help my team win games.”
What the move does is likely begin the death knell for Sanchez, who the Jets took No. 5 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. Sanchez led the Jets to consecutive AFC Championship games his first two years in the league but the Jets have missed the playoffs the past two seasons.
Smith will now be the face of the franchise and in all likelihood will be anointed the Jets' latest savior.
During his senior season at West Virginia, Smith completed 369-of-518 passes for 4,205 yards with 42 touchdowns and six interceptions. But it wasn’t all pretty. After a 5-0 start, the Mountaineers fell apart, losing five of their last seven games and then were badly beaten by Syracuse at the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
The Jets had the No. 30 total offense last season, averaging just 299.2 yards per game under Sanchez. They struggled in the passing game and with offseason losses tight end Dustin Keller and running back Shonn Greene, the team Smith joins will be lacking star power and playmakers, at least this season.
In early April, Smith met with the Jets over a two-day period but he said he had no idea he would be taken in the second round. He sees himself as a franchise quarterback.
“I do believe so, for a number of reasons. The main thing is that I’m going to come into practice; I’m going to come into work. I’m going to compete daily. I’m going to also do my best to better teammates in order for us to win a Super Bowl,” Smith said.
“It’s not about qualities. I think it’s up to me to continue to improve daily. My game is not based on one single thing, but I think it is based on a number of things. As long as I continue to improve and progress, I think I’ll be fine.”
Winters goes in third round
It wasn’t the franchise-shaking move the Jets made with Smith, but third-round pick Brian Winters of Kent State could be a very solid addition to the team.
The theme of the second day of the draft for the Jets was offense, taking their quarterback of the future in the second round and then adding a guard in Winters with the No. 72 pick, a move that solidifies their offensive line. Winters started 49 games for the Golden Flashes all as a tackle. Winters isn’t viewed as a lineman with great technique, but instead as a physical mauler. He is projected to move to guard.
In all likelihood, Winters will step right into a starting position with the Jets, who lost starters Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson this offseason. CBSSports.com had him as a second-round grade and the No. 5 guard in the draft.
“I couldn’t ask to step into a better situation,” Winters said in a conference call with the media.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.