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Alabama QB realizes his dream

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Alabama QB Greg McElroy realizes his dream with Jets

: Saturday, April 30, 2011, 10:57 PM

By Jenny Vrentas/The Star-Ledger The Star-Ledger

Greg McElroy wore No. 12 at Alabama for one reason: Joe Namath was his dad’s favorite player of all time.

So when the Jets drafted the national championship quarterback in the seventh round today, he was “absolutely ecstatic.”

“I can’t believe I’m not going to only wear the same college uniform as Joe Namath,” McElroy said, “I hopefully will have the opportunity to wear the same NFL uniform.”

GM Mike Tannenbaum said the Jets wanted to add a young backup behind Mark Sanchez if they had the opportunity — and that opportunity came with the 208th overall pick today.

The Jets also have Mark Brunell, Kevin O’Connell and Drew Willy under contract, and tendered former second-round pick Kellen Clemens, in the event he is a restricted free agent under the rules for 2011. Erik Ainge, placed on the reserve/non-football illness list when he entered drug rehabilitation last summer, is also still their property.

McElroy, a two-year starter who reportedly scored 48 out of 50 on the Wonderlic, is a player the Jets can develop behind Sanchez — and possibly use as trade bait down the line. Tannenbaum said he believes in a philosophy learned from former Packers GM Ron Wolf: Acquire a quarterback per year.

“He had every attribute conceivable for a guy to be successful at the quarterback position,” he said. “Won high school, won college, smart, competitive, can make all the throws, natural leader. What’s not to like about the guy?”

McElroy started 27 games at Alabama, and was 222-of-313 for 2,987 yards and 20 touchdowns his senior season. When he committed to the school, Namath left McElroy a voice mail, and the pair first met when Alabama played Ole Miss in the fall of 2006.

After the selection of two defensive linemen with their first two draft picks — Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis — what does that mean for the future of DE Shaun Ellis, the longest-tenured Jet?

“Anytime we make a decision, especially on the defensive line, it’s not one-for-one,” Tannenbaum said. “It’s just adding another guy to the mix.”

Coach Rex Ryan also spoke for the first time about Friday’s selection of Kenrick Ellis, a massive 345-pound nose tackle who has a pending felony charge.

Ryan said he “felt good about him as a young man,” but his job was to evaluate his football talent, and he thought it was “unusual” for a man of his size to move so well.

With the resumption of the lockout, teams were not permitted to sign undrafted free agents at the conclusion of the draft. When they are allowed to do so, the team may look to some of the areas they did not address: linebacker, offensive line and the defensive backfield.

For more Jets coverage, follow Jenny Vrentas on Twitter at twitter.com/Jennyvrentas

Jenny Vrentas: jvrentas@starledger.com

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I like McElroy, but its a shame he won't really have an opportunity to start; on this team anyways. But I hope we develop him enough for people to want to trade like a 2nd/3rd rounder for him so he can eventually start some place else.

Not such a bad situation for a college QB who wasn't rated at the top. Sanchez is obviously the man, but as a backup McElroy's only real competition is Kevin O'Connell, whom the Jets want to give another chance to, and somebody named Drew Willy. Brunell is ancient and Kellen Clemens no longer seems to be in Jets' plans.

So McElroy's chance of starting is very small, but it looks like he'll get a good chance to stick with the team for some years.

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