The two highest-profile players to go unpicked in the opening round of the NFL draft were taken relatively quickly in the second round on Friday evening.
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was chosen by the San Diego Chargers with the sixth selection of the second round, the 38th overall pick in the draft. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith was taken by the New York Jets with the following pick.
Te’o fell to the second round after his disappointing performance against Alabama in the collegiate national championship game and the highly publicized hoax involving an online girlfriend who turned out never to have existed.
“It’s great motivation for me to go out there and just get better, and that’s what I intend to do…. Being a Charger means a lot to me right now,” Te’o told the team’s Web site. “It’s a great organization. The coaches and the front office, it’s a great organization and I want to reward them for picking me. I’m going to do whatever it takes to help us win.”
The Chargers’ selection of Te’o was part of a second-round run on linebackers. There were six of them chosen in the round.
There was no such run on quarterbacks. Smith was the lone quarterback selected in the second round. That came after only one quarterback, Florida State’s EJ Manuel, was picked in the opening round Thursday night, by the Buffalo Bills with the 16th overall choice.
Southern California’s Matt Barkley and Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib remained unpicked at the end of the second round.
The Jets landed Smith after getting two defensive players, cornerback Dee Milliner and defensive end Sheldon Richardson, in the opening round. Smith’s selection creates a potentially uncomfortable situation for Mark Sanchez, the Jets’ often-criticized starter at quarterback.
Smith told the NFL Network: “I’m ready to compete. I’m ready to go in there and try to win a starting job.”
He remained in New York and once more was on hand to watch the draft proceedings at Radio City Music Hall even after Thursday’s long ordeal in which he sat in the players’ waiting room there without being chosen in the first round.
“It was tough,” Smith told the NFL Network. “But I’m here today because of what I’ve withstood. I’m just proud to be a Jet.”
There were five cornerbacks taken in the second round. There also were five running backs selected, including Alabama tailback Eddie Lacy.
Lacy went to the Green Bay Packers on the 29th choice of the second round, the 61st overall pick in the draft. Lacy had been widely regarded as the top running back available entering the draft. But he was only the fourth running back chosen. On Thursday, this became the first NFL draft since 1963 in which no running backs were selected in the opening round.
More draft coverage from The Post:
The Early Lead: Smith goes to Jets, has Sanchez in his sights
The Early Lead:Te’o goes to Chargers in Round 2