Once projected to be a top-five draft pick, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith's draft finally came to an end in Round 2, when the New York Jets drafted him with the No. 39 overall pick, much to the applause and excitement of the hometown crowd at Radio City Music Hall.
The New York Jets needed to find a franchise quarterback, and they may have found that signal-caller in Smith. He has the potential to be a fantastic NFL quarterback, but he still has a long way to go in his development.
Smith has a good if not great arm, is a good athlete who throws well on the run and has displayed that he can make any throw on the field. He has a terrific release and good overall mechanics. If developed properly, he could be the franchise quarterback that the New York Jets did not find in Mark Sanchez and desperately need to re-emerge as a contender in the AFC East.
In order to reach that potential, he has to improve his footwork within the pocket, make better downfield reads and learn how to play in a pro-style offense after playing in a spread system at West Virginia.
Smith could be worth a late draft pick in fantasy football leagues as a quarterback sleeper, but players should stay away from him in the early rounds of their fantasy football drafts.
As a second-round pick, the Jets may not feel pressured to start Smith right away as a rookie. While chances are good that he will see the field at some point in his rookie season, he is likely to have some significant growing pains if he does play as a rookie, given the areas in his game he needs to develop.
In keeper leagues, drafting Smith could turn out to be a good investment for the future, but given his uncertain starting status and likeliness to struggle if he does play early, he is not worth a high fantasy investment.
Considering how much money the Jets currently have invested in Mark Sanchez, and the fact that Smith is only a second-round pick, he is not going to be handed the starting job. He will have to compete in training camp to win that job.
Unless Sanchez shows significant improvement from last season, Smith should see the field at some point in his rookie season. That said, unless Smith comes in and clearly asserts himself as the team's best quarterback in the preseason, the Jets would be smartest to start him out on the bench and give him time to develop, then insert him into the lineup when he is more ready to play or if and when Sanchez's struggles become unbearable.
While Smith's remaining flaws in his game would have made him a very risky first-round pick, he is well worth the risk as a second-round pick. He has as much ability to be a franchise quarterback as any quarterback in the 2013 draft class and could turn out to be an absolute steal in Round 2.
Smith was almost certainly in consideration for the Jets at both the No. 9 and No. 13 overall selections and would have been a good choice then considering their need for a quarterback upgrade. In the second round, the Jets got terrific value on a quarterback who has the upside to be great, although he is likely to need time and patience to develop to reach his potential.