Mark Sanchez is a Jet and no one was happier in the minutes after the trade with Cleveland for the fifth pick of the draft today made it possible than owner Woody Johnson.
"It's Sanchez," said Johnson as he bounced out of the team's draft room, his face lit up as brightly as his trademark bright green tie. Then he strode down the stairs at the Atlantic Health Training Center to greet and be greeted by 200 fans invited to a VIP draft party for suite holders and club seat owners at New Jets Stadium.
"Congratulations, Woody ... Great job ... Can you sign my football? ... Great job."
"It's very exciting," Johnson told *newyorkjets.com *on his way back to the draft room about one of the highs any NFL top executive can experience — orchestrating a blockbuster first-round deal for his team's next franchise quarterback. "It's a culmination of a huge team effort that's been going on for months now. To be able to get the player you wanted all along for Rex and his plan and for Mike and the whole scouting department, it's great."
Rex is head coach Rex Ryan, of course, and Mike is general manager Mike Tannenbaum. Mike T and his team put together the trade of the Jets' 17th overall pick, their second-round pick (No. 52), and three players — QB Brett Ratliff, DE Kenyon Coleman and S Abram Elam — to Eric Mangini's rebuilding Cleveland Browns.
Johnson said he had no hesitation dealing with Mangini, who until four months ago was his head coach. But getting to Mangini's team and the fifth pick was another matter.
"There were nerves all along, with every pick except for the first one," said Johnson, referring to the predraft agreement struck between the Lions at No. 1 overall and Georgia QB Matt Stafford. "Absolutely, we had nerves. But this process is a game of contingencies as well. I think Mike played it well."
Indeed, Tannenbaum played it well enough to bring in the Jets' highest-drafted QB since Joe Namath went second overall in the 1965 American Football League draft. But Johnson loves the tangibles and intangibles that the Southern Cal signalcaller will bring with him from West to East.
"I like him as a football player, number one," he said. "He's a great player. He's very smart. He essentially played in a pro offense. The second part is the personal part, the leadership part, which I think he also excels in."
Not even the limited number of 16 starts for the Trojans dissuaded the Jets owner that this was a move worth making.
"I mean, nobody has everything you want," Johnson said. "But his high school career and those 16 starts, they were pretty fabulous."
And Woody and the Jets are eager to see just how fabulous Mark Sanchez can be behind center for the Green & White.
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