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NFL future looks bleak for USC quarterbacks after Day 2 of draft

USC's Matt Barkley remains undrafted through three rounds, and former Trojan Mark Sanchez is joined in New York by West Virginia's Geno Smith, who was picked by the Jets in the second round.

April 26, 2013|By Sam Farmer
  • The Jets drafted quarterback Geno Smith, moving former Trojans quarterback Mark Sanchez closer to the door.
The Jets drafted quarterback Geno Smith, moving former Trojans quarterback… (Jason DeCrow / Associated…)

NEW YORK — Rough night for USC quarterbacks.

Matt Barkley went undrafted through the second and third rounds of the NFL draft on Friday, and fellow former Trojans quarterback Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets moved closer to the door.

The Jets picked West Virginia's Geno Smith in the second round, adding a sixth quarterback to their roster and sending another none-too-subtle message to Sanchez that he's not their future.

Projected by some people as a first-rounder, Barkley tumbled through the first three rounds. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

After four quarterbacks were taken in the opening rounds of the last two drafts, just one per round has gone this year — Florida State's EJ Manuel to Buffalo in the first, Smith in the second, and North Carolina State's Mike Glennon to Tampa Bay in the third.

Also undrafted through three rounds was UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin, the school's all-time rushing leader. Six running backs have been selected so far.

In a text to The Times, Franklin said he will "land where I'm supposed to and work my tail off every day." He added: "I'm excited and blessed I still have an opportunity to play football. I'm in love with it. I just want to keep playing."

Two USC players were drafted Friday: receiver Robert Woods by Buffalo in the second round, and safety T.J. McDonald by St. Louis in the third.

Defensive end Datone Jones, the 26th overall pick by Green Bay, was the only UCLA player taken through three rounds.

Meanwhile, Smith accepted an invitation to attend the draft but, in his optimism, packed too light. He didn't bring enough clothes to last him through the second day.

"My mom actually bought these today," he said, motioning to his cream-colored sweater and blue shirt and tie. "I picked out one suit, and I expected to go [in Thursday's first round], but it's just a blessing to be here today. I wanted to make sure I came out to represent, and I was going to wait 'til my name got called."

A night earlier, Smith and his mother had left Radio City Music Hall before the first round was over. He initially did not plan to return for the second day, but reconsidered after talking to friends, family and advisors.

Eight picks into the second round — one spot after the San Diego Chargers took Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o — the Jets took Smith, regarded by many people as the top quarterback in the draft class.

Among those who encouraged Smith to return for Day 2 was Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who famously waited through 23 selections in 2005 until the Packers chose him. Earlier Friday, Rodgers signed a record $110-million contract.

In a tweet Thursday night, Rodgers quoted the NFL's former commissioner in a tweet: "Hang in there Geno, 'good things come to those who wait' — Paul Tagliabue."

"I watched that draft, and I watched Aaron go through that," Smith said. "It's kind of ironic that you see that you're put in that position. It's a test of patience."

The Jets' stable of quarterbacks is now Sanchez, Tim Tebow, David Garrard, Greg McElroy, Matt Simms, and Smith. For the moment, Sanchez is slated as the starter for off-season workouts, and the Jets owe him $8.25 million even if he's not on the roster. Were the Jets to release Sanchez, they would take a $17-million hit to their salary cap over the next two years.

Alabama running back Eddie Lacy went from Radio City's green room to Green Bay, but he twisted in the wind until the 29th pick of the second round. The player many thought was the best ball-carrier in the draft saw three running backs chosen before him — North Carolina's Giovani Bernard (Cincinnati), Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell (Pittsburgh) and Wisconsin's Montee Ball (Denver).

Louisiana State cornerback Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu was drafted in the third round by Arizona. He was kicked off his college team last summer for violating team rules, including failing drug tests.

Te'o, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, saw his stock plunge after a terrible performance in the national championship game against Alabama, slow times at the scouting combine, and the soap opera of his fake dead girlfriend.

"I did expect to go in the first round," Te'o said. "But things happened and all it did was give me more motivation."

Each second-round pick was announced by a notable former player of the picking team. The Chargers' selection was read at the lectern by Los Angeles sports anchor Jim Hill of KCBS, who played defensive back for San Diego.

"Everybody backstage was worried about pronouncing the names correctly," Hill said. "I saw mine and thought 'Oh, I won't have any trouble pronouncing this one. I've got this one down.'"

Twitter: @LATimesFarmer

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