It seemed fitting that Aaron Rodgers was rewarded with a lavish contract extension that could make him the highest-paid football player...
NEW YORK — It seemed fitting that Aaron Rodgers was rewarded with a lavish contract extension that could make him the highest-paid football player in history just minutes before the second round of the NFL draft began Friday night.
In 2005, Rodgers became the unintentional symbol for agonizing draft-day delays. Once thought to be a possibility for No. 1 overall, he plummeted to the 24th pick. But in his wildly successful time as the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, Rodgers has also become the face of the soft landing.
As the second round began this year, the question was when the big names — players who stewed through the first round Thursday night as Rodgers once had — would finally get a chance at their prize, too.
It did not take long to get the answers. The San Diego Chargers, perennially underachieving, moved up in the second round to select Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te’o with the 38th pick overall. Te’o had been widely projected as a first-round prospect during the college football season, respected for his toughness and his leadership. But a dismal performance in the national championship game, and his entanglement in a bizarre hoax involving a fake dead girlfriend, sullied his image.
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Te’o has claimed ignorance of the hoax, but there is little question it will follow him to California. In his conference call with San Diego reporters, Te’o gave a hint of the lingering damage. He admitted that when he saw the California area code pop up on his cellphone — it was the Chargers calling to tell him he had been selected — he thought some of his friends were trying to play a prank on him again.
“I did expect to go in the first round,” Te’o said. “But things happened and all it did was give me more motivation.”
Te’o was the most high-profile player last season, but his tumble was emblematic of a draft class with such significant flaws that many analysts believe it is one of the worst in years.
Much of that doubt was because of a quarterback class with no obvious superstars. Just one of them — project E.J. Manuel of Florida State — was selected in the first round Thursday, the fewest quarterbacks taken in a first round since 2001. Geno Smith of West Virginia will be the quarterback remembered from this class because he sat in the green room all night Thursday and then deliberated whether to return Friday.
It was a good thing he did. Right after the Chargers took Te’o, Smith finally got the call he, and many television cameras, had waited more than 24 hours for. It came from the New York Jets, a team that had seemed set not to take a quarterback because they owe Mark Sanchez $8.25 million and are in the middle of rebuilding.
After three rounds, many quarterbacks remained available, including Ryan Nassib of Syracuse, who had seemed a possible first-round pick, and Matt Barkley of USC, who might have been a first-round pick if he had come out last year.
Jets trade for Ivory
The New York Jets made a trade, getting New Orleans running back Chris Ivory for their fourth-round pick, the 107th overall selection. Ivory, a former Washington State player, has rushed for 1,307 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 5.1 yards per carry, in three NFL seasons. Ivory is considered to be a very good runner between the tackles.