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Jets move up in draft to grab QB Sanchez

April 25, 2009 3:47:00 PM PDT
The New York Jets have their franchise quarterback. The Jets selected former Southern California star Mark Sanchez with the fifth pick of the NFL draft Saturday after trading with the Cleveland Browns to leap from the 17th overall spot.

Sanchez, with his powerful and accurate arm, will immediately compete for the starting job with Kellen Clemens a season after Brett Favre came out of retirement for one year.

The pick was the first for new coach Rex Ryan, who repeatedly declared his confidence in Clemens and Brett Ratliff this offseason but believed Sanchez was a too good a talent to pass up.

"With Mark, I think he's a special guy," Ryan said.

The Jets acquired the pick from Cleveland and former coach Eric Mangini for their first-round pick, No. 17 overall, their second-round pick this year (No. 52), and defensive end Kenyon Coleman, safety Abram Elam and quarterback Brett Ratliff.

Sanchez was considered by some to be an even greater talent than Georgia's Matthew Stafford, who went No. 1 overall to the Detroit Lions, but some teams were wary of his lack of experience. Not the Jets, who saw enough in his 16 starts with the Trojans to make them believe he could be the leader of the franchise.

Sanchez threw for 3,965 yards and 41 touchdowns and excelled in USC's pro style offensive system. The Jets were impressed by Sanchez, who had one year as a starter after sitting at USC behind John David Booty. He won the job last season and led the Trojans to a victory over Penn State in the Rose Bowl, passing for 413 yards and earning offensive MVP honors.

Sanchez opted to forgo his final year of college eligibility and entered the draft, becoming the first USC quarterback to turn pro before using his eligibility since Todd Marinovich after the 1990 season. He's also the first quarterback the Jets selected in the first round since they took Chad Pennington 18th overall in 2000.


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