Geno Smith wasn't sure he wanted to stick around New York City for the second day of the 2013 NFL Draft and put his family through another excruciating situation. In the end, he held his head high, returned to the green room at Radio City Music Hall and as it turns out, he doesn't have to go far to report for his first day of work as a professional football player.
The New York Jets attempted to move up in the second round to select Smith, but couldn't engineer a trade. As it turns out, Smith's slide continued all the way to the 39th overall pick, where the Jets quickly ended his wait.
"I'm just extremely blessed," an emotional Smith told ESPN as he walked off the podium. "The only person I can thank for this is God. When you think of all the stuff I've been through in my lifetime, I think it's well deserved. The work is just beginning for me. I'm just proud to be a Jet.
Of the long wait to hear his name called, Smith said, "It's been tough, it's been hard to gut out. But I'm a man first, and I stand up here because God has kept me, and that's really all I can say."
He'll need to gut out much more in the limelight and constant scrutiny that comes with playing quarterback for the Jets. He joins a very muddled situation, where embattled Mark Sanchez will now face even more questions about his future with the team.
Sanchez is due $8.25 million in guaranteed money for the next two years. If the Jets wait until after June 1 to release him, the ensuing salary cap hit would be around $12 million -- close to 10 percent of the team's total salary cap. So the Jets are considering releasing Sanchez in the near future, according to an ESPN report.
Sanchez was benched late last season, but entered the offseason program the de facto starter. The team signed veteran David Garrard and still has Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy on the roster.
Smith entered the draft as the No. 21-rated prospect overall by NFLDraftScout.com, and the top-ranked quarterback. But when he got past the Cleveland Browns at No. 6 overall, it was clear Smith was going to wait a while to hear his name called.
No one thought it would be until after 7 p.m. ET on Friday, however.
Smith completed 81.4 percent of his passes with an astonishing 24-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the first five games last season and was a clear favorite for the Heisman Trophy. Then the Mountaineers hit the skids, and Smith's warts began to surface -- experts will point to poor decision making, a lack of poise in the pocket and questions about his leadership ability.
Tired of taking a beating from the so-called draft experts, Smith fired back on Twitter on Tuesday, writing: "Just want to thank all those so called "experts" who say I can't be an NFL QB. Thursday will be a special day but the work has only begun"
What isn't in question is Smith's arm strength and mobility in an NFL increasingly turning toward athletic quarterbacks who can keep defenses guessing.
Whether Smith is given the time to develop before being thrown into the fire with the Jets remains to be seen, and will hinge largely on what new general manger John Idzik decides to do with Sanchez between now and training camp.