New York Jets' head coach Rex Ryan liked what he saw from rookie second-round pick Geno Smith, which was more than he could say for his 2012 first-round pick, Quentin Coples.
Ryan's assessment of Smith's first practice: "He can really spin it," Ryan said of Smith's tight spirals to open the Jets' minicamp Friday. The second-round pick, drafted 39th overall, wasn't quite as positive.
"I'm going to be tough on myself," said Smith, surrounded by multiple rows of reporters. "I'll let the coaches do the grading. But if I say it, it's an F because I want to be an A-plus ... that's just the way I do things."
Smith was projected as a first-round pick but was bypassed by every team but the New Orleans Saints before the Jets used their third pick in the 2013 draft to add Smith to a depth chart that includes five quarterbacks. Smith threw the ball with authority in a workout open to media.
He's been under tight scrutiny from media and the study of his behavior, published reports citing unnamed scouts who labeled him a "diva" and self-important prospect have made national headlines and kept airwaves lively in the New York sportstalk circuit.
"Maybe I don't know what the diva behavior looks like," Ryan said. "I never saw that at all."
From Friday's reviews, it's hard to fathom the level of venom in some pre-draft scouting reports. Smith said he's studying West Coast offense quarterbacks on film, including Joe Montana, Steve Young and Donovan McNabb. Thursday night, he organized a playbook review with other skill position players at the team's hotel.
"The fact he's already telling guys (directions) ... that's pretty sharp," Ryan said.
Smith will compete in training camp with another highly criticized quarterback, Mark Sanchez.
At one point Friday, Smith got an earful from offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who felt Smith was slow to pull the trigger at times. He's the new fish in the pond with veteran starters Sanchez, David Garrard and third-year backup Greg McElroy. Matt Simms is also in camp.
"I know Mark is a competitor, and I understand Mark wants to win the job," Smith said. "We all do. But at the same time, I'm going to learn from him and David and Greg."
Ryan voiced his displeasure with 2012 first-round pick Coples, who Ryan said at the end of last season would be one of the team's breakout players in 2013. Apparently Ryan wants to see more commitment to conditioning from the massive defensive lineman after observing him Thursday.
"If Quinton doesn't do a better job in the weight room, he'll have to compete like anyone else for a job," Ryan said.