Hollywood to Broadway: Here Comes Sanchez

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2009 Draft Jets First Round Pick - Mark Sanchez

 After acquiring the No. 5 overall selection from the Cleveland Browns, the New York Jets selected Southern Cal QB Mark Sanchez. To draft the Trojans signalcaller, the Jets shipped DE Kenyon Coleman, S Abe Elam and QB Brett Ratliff to the Brownies in addition to their first- (No. 17) and second-round (No. 52) selections in this year's draft.

"We felt really good about Mark, what he did on the field and off the field," said Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum. "At the end of the day, Rex [Ryan], Woody [Johnson] and I felt if there was an opportunity. We wanted to take advantage of it. And when Mark was available at five, we did what was in the best interest of the New York Jets."

"I'm very excited," Sanchez told ESPN. "This is exactly where I wanted to be. It's the right place."

Sanchez, who left USC after his junior year, threw for 3,207 yards and 34 TD passes last season. He started 16 games in his college career and threw for at least two TDs in 13 of those games.

"I just felt so comfortable with their coaching staff," he said. "I love what Coach Ryan is doing on the defensive end and that's what I'm used to with Coach [Pete] Carroll being a defensive-minded coach."

Sanchez (6'2", 227) beat our Arkansas transfer Mitch Mustain for the USC starting job last season and then he led the Trojans to a 12-1 mark. He capped off a magnificent campaign with a brilliant outing in the Rose Bowl, passing for 413 yards and four TDs in a 38-24 pasting of Penn State.

A highly accurate passer, Sanchez completed 64 percent of his throws at Southern Cal. Despite playing in just 41 games, he threw for 27 TDS and his 3,998 yards of total offense rank 12th in school annals.

The Jets liked what they saw of Sanchez on video, but they came away even more impressed when they worked him out privately in California a few weeks back.

"When we were there at the workout, we saw the great feet. We saw the poise and how confident he was," Ryan said. "Brian [Schottenheimer] put him through every route known to man and I think he passed every one of them with flying colors. We knew I think right then that this was a guy we really wanted."

Sanchez is the sixth quarterback in Jets franchise history to have been selected in the first round — the only one drafted higher was Joe Namath, first overall in the 1965 AFL draft. Sanchez is also the fourth Southern Cal product the Jets/Titans have taken in the first round. Thirteen years ago, the Jets made a similar splash when they grabbed USC WR Keyshawn Johnson with the top overall selection.

In addition to his favorable physical traits, Sanchez has plenty of intangibles and Ryan witnessed that at the private workout.

"There had to be 20 receivers there volunteering and I think that says something about this young man and the type of person he is," said the Jets' rookie head coach. "Guys were coming out of the woodwork to run routes for him. You could see he has that kind of leadership."

The starting job will not be immediately handed to Sanchez. He'll have to earn it and will be challenged by Kellen Clemens, the second-round pick of the Jets in 2006. But the Jets think very highly of their new rookie and he'll have every opportunity to take the reins.

"We wouldn't have traded up for Mark if we didn't think he had the ability to compete for the starting position," Ryan said. "I was on the phone with Kellen, Mike and I both were. He's going to have an opportunity. I was impressed with Kellen in the minicamps and everything else. He has a great grasp of this system, he's been with Brian for four years, and looked really good in the camps and all that.

"But with Mark, I think he's a special guy and we'll see what happens. I think it's going to be a great competition."

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