There was speculation all week about it happening but there was doubt by many that it could be done. In the end though, the Jets did indeed pull it off by trading up to the #5 spot with all people, former head coach Eric Mangini and the Browns and selecting potential franchise QB, Southern Cal's Mark Sanchez.
In return of the #5 pick, the Jets give Cleveland their first and second round picks in this draft (17 and 52) and also three players: DE Kenyon Coleman, DB Abram Elam and QB Brett Ratliff.
Update: Tannenbaum, Ryan, Sanchez Speak
In the weeks leading up to the NFL draft, the Jets targeted Southern California's Mark Sanchez, but first decided to put the phenom quarterback through a complicated study session. General manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan met Sanchez at the NFL Owner's Meetings back in March and handed Sanchez an enclopedia-thick playbook. Sanchez had just two days to tackle the playbook, but he mastered the test.
"When he was up there and he's just memorizing everything he knew about the playbook, he's just going from scratch on a board. This young man was so impressed," Ryan recalled about Sanchez's study session.
The Jets enfatutation for Sanchez grew after the two sides met, yet the possibility of selecting him in today's draft appeared dim. The Jets were scheduled to select 17th overall and there was little chance of Sanchez sliding beyond the Jaguars' slot at eighth overall. Various names were attached to Gang Green in the previous weeks (tight end Brandon Pettigrew, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, quarterback Josh Freeman) and the intrigue finally ended today.
The Jets traded with the Browns to move up to fifth overall for Sanchez. In return, the Browns received the Jets' first-round (17th overall) and second-round picks (52nd overall) in this year's draft and defensive end Kenyon Coleman, quarterback Brett Ratliff and safety Abram Elam.
The Jets courtship for Sanchez picked up steam late last night, when Tannenbaum phoned the Browns to discuss possibly trading up to fifth overall. The Jets' plans came to fruition and they grabbed their quarterback of the future today.
"This is a trade that's going to help both teams, and that's when you know it's a good trade," Ryan said. "To get something, you've got to give something and we wish those [traded players] the best."
For the Jets new quarterback, today was full of excitement.
"This is a pretty special day," Sanchez explained today. "I'm very grateful for Mr. Ryan and Mr. Johnson and Mr. Tannenbaum for having faith in me and I'm very excited to be a New York Jet."
Sanchez started just one season for the Trojans, where he threw for 34 touchdowns and just ten interceptions. In a 38-24 victory over Penn State in the Rose Bowl, Sanchez lit up one of the nation's premier defenses, completing 28 of 35 passes for 413 yards and four touchdowns.
While scouts believe that Sanchez has the arm strength and intangibles to develop into a star quarterback, his lack of experience (16 starts) has drawn some concern. Ryan explained that Sanchez will immediately be thrown into a competition for the starting spot with Kellen Clemens.
"We wouldn't have traded have traded up for Mark if we didn't think he had the ability to compete for the starting position," Ryan said. "He's going to have an opportunity."
The youthful quarterback believes he's more than prepared to become Gang Green's new starter.
"I've never grown up dreaming about being a backup," Sanchez said with a laugh. I just want to get back to work. It's been so long since I've been on the field with my team and I'm really excited to meet the new players on the team and get this thing going."
Sanchez completed 64 percent of his passes at Southern California and totaled 3,998 yards (12th in USC history) and 41 touchdowns. Only former first-round pick Matt Leinart (38 in 2003) tossed more touchdowns in a single-season than Sanchez.
The Jets will now hope Sanchez doesn't match Leinart's production in the NFL. One thing is for sure...they have their face of the franchise.