- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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Until they have a legitimate franchise quarterback, the New York Jets will always be subject to draft rumors. Hey, that's life in the big city. They also have a general manager who refuses to rule out any possibilities, fueling speculation.
With Geno Smith and Michael Vick on the roster, the Jets don't figure to be looking for a quarterback in the first or second rounds, but the rumblings persist. For instance: They have expressed considerable interest in former Eastern Illinois star Jimmy Garoppolo, whom many project as a second-round pick. Garoppolo said Wednesday that he has met with Jets quarterbacks coach David Lee on three occasions -- the scouting combine, his pro day and a recent visit to the Jets' facility.
Garoppolo, speaking at a pre-draft event in Lower Manhattan, said Lee told him his release reminds of a certain Dallas Cowboys quarterback -- Tony Romo, another Eastern Illinois product whom Lee coached in Dallas. Garoppolo said he enjoyed his meeting time with the Jets.
"I thought the coaches in general were very personable, very blue-collar, getting-down-to-work type of guys," he said. "I like that about them. It fits my personality."
Frankly, I think the Jets are simply performing due diligence with Garoppolo and the other top quarterbacks. It would be an upset if they draft one before the fourth round, although they might have to hit the pause button if Blake Bortles somehow falls to 18. Garoppolo believes their interest is legitimate.
"There's a method to their madness," he said. "They're one of those teams that brought me in for a reason. Whatever the Jets' reason may be ... maybe they're hoping I fall. Hopefully, I don't, but they have a reason for what they did."
Garoppolo's most vivid takeaway from his visit to the Jets' facility is a bit unusual -- the 200-year-old oak tree that stands between two practice fields.
"I know it's kind of a random thought, but I was curious about it," he said. "Coach (Rex) Ryan told me the owner's mother wanted to keep it there."