Chargers trade up to draft Notre Dame LB Te'o 38th overall
NEW YORK — Manti Te'o is headed to San Diego.
Geno Smith is a Jet.
Radio City Music Hall was relatively silent for five second-round picks Thursday night. Then the theater shook with two selections within minutes of each other.
The Notre Dame All-America linebacker was chosen sixth in the second round by the Chargers, drawing a loud roar from the fans at Radio City Music Hall. One spot later, the Jets took the West Virginia quarterback, drawing a raucous reaction of cheers and boos.
Early in Friday's proceedings, the big names had taken over from the bulk and beef of opening night, when 18 linemen went in the first round.
Te'o, who led the Fighting Irish to the national championship game, was projected as a first-rounder last year. But his poor performance in a rout at the hands of Alabama, some slow workouts, and a tabloid-ready hoax involving a fake girlfriend that became a national soap opera dropped his stock.
“I did expect to go in the first round,” Te'o said. “But things happened and all it did was give me more motivation.”
When former Chargers defensive back Jim Hill was handed the card to make the announcement by Commissioner Roger Goodell, he was told, “You're going to get a big cheer when you announce this pick.”
It was more a mix of surprise and recognition of the most talked-about player in the draft finally finding a landing spot at No. 38 overall.
The Chargers traded up with Arizona to grab Te'o, the Heisman Trophy runner-up. Te'o ran a 4.82-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, slow for a linebacker. He did better at Notre Dame's pro day, but NFL teams already had plenty of football reasons to doubt his worthiness as a first-round pick.
He was the third linebacker chosen in this draft.
“It's a perfect scenario. My parents can come and watch, I can go home, it's San Diego,” said Te'o, a native of Hawaii. “We're all excited. I can't be any happier.”
Safety Johnathan Cyprien of Florida International was the first selection of the second round. Cyprien was a standout in the Sun Belt Conference and really solidified his stock with an excellent performance in the Senior Bowl.
“He's got a passion for the game,” coach Gus Bradley said. “He is very animated. He just enjoys it. He loves to play the game. I think he's going to add to what we have here and the attitude that we're looking for.”
Arizona added some spice to the third round by selecting former LSU cornerback-kick returner Tyrann Mathieu.
The ‘Honey Badger' was a 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist that LSU dismissed from the team last August for failing a drug test. He was arrested in late October after police said they found marijuana at Mathieu's apartment.
Other second-round picks Friday were Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter by the Titans, who traded up with San Francisco; Stanford All-America tight end Zach Ertz by Philadelphia; and North Carolina's Gio Bernard, the first running back chosen, by Cincinnati.
After no running backs were selected in the first round, there were five taken in the second. The number of linemen dropped to five.
The presumed top-rated running back, Eddie Lacy of Alabama, went with the next-to-last selection of the round, to Green Bay.
NCAA record-setting RB Montee Ball of Wisconsin was chosen by Denver.