New York Jets owner Woody Johnson had a few words for Geno Smith Tuesday preparing him for what lies ahead in Jetsland.
Manish Mehta of The New York Daily News spoke with Johnson at the NFL's Career Development Symposium in Philadelphia and relayed this simple message to Smith:
"Welcome to the competition," said Johnson. "It’s going to be fun."
Is that Tina Turner's "We Don't Need Another Hero" I hear someone queuing up?
It's only been ten days since the Jets selected Smith in the second round, but Johnson made it clear that he’s happy to have the polarizing signal caller on his team. Smith has already endured his fair share of criticism in the wake of slipping out of the first round but the best is yet to come.
"He was the highest rated player (left) on our board," Johnson said. “I’m extremely happy to have him…. Great body of work. He was a gifted athlete from Day One. I guess they identified him very, very early when he was a little kid as being something special.”
Johnson, who had a 15-minute face-to-face meeting with Smith at the NFL Combine in February, didn’t appear overly concerned about recent reports about Smith’s character and maturity, writes Mehta.
“We went by our evaluations,” Johnson said. “We evaluate all those traits: skills and communication, leadership… We evaluate them. He got a very high score with us. He was the next guy on our board and we drafted him.”
The Jets selected Smith with the 39th overall pick, but Johnson admitted that the team considered him in the first round “if we had dropped down.” Gang Green selected Dee Milliner and Sheldon Richardson with their two first-round selections.
Although Johnson praised Smith, he stopped short of calling him a franchise quarterback — especially with four other players vying for the starting job.
"I’ll let the competition go," Johnson said. "We’ll just see how it goes. I don’t want to pre-judge it because they’ve got to go in there and compete every day. We’ll see what it looks like on the field."
Johnson didn’t shed any light on incumbent starter Mark Sanchez’s immediate future. He didn’t definitively say that Sanchez would be on the roster when training camp starts either.
"I expect him to compete," Johnson said. "He’s under contract."
Welcome to the Thunderdome competition.