For Scotty McKnight, it helps to have friends in high places.
The New York Jets selected the Colorado wide receiver, a childhood friend of quarterback Mark Sanchez, with their final pick of the NFL draft in the seventh round Saturday, but coach Rex Ryan insists it's the player -- not the connection -- that swayed him.
McKnight is Colorado's career leader in receptions (215) and receiving touchdowns (22) and is third in receiving yards. He's also the 10th player in NCAA history to catch at least one pass in every game he appeared.
"I feel so grateful just to be drafted," McKnight told *The Star-Ledger* on Sunday. "But deep down, I was hoping I would go to the Jets."
McKnight called it a "dream come true," saying he and Sanchez have been friends since the wideout was 8 years old, yet they have never played on the same team.
Sanchez threw to McKnight at Colorado's pro day, and the quarterback's representation -- Athletes First, along with Sanchez's older brother, Nick Sanchez -- will represent the receiver, according to the newspaper. Their two families were together watching the draft when McKnight was selected by the Jets.
Ryan told reporters Sunday that while McKnight's friendship with Sanchez helped contribute to the selection, the wideout is a fit for the Jets' system.
"When we bring guys in, it's based on what system they're familiar with and how comfortable they are," Ryan said. "Is it by words or numbers? Clearly, he knows Mark and has probably ran thousands of routes with him, so I'm sure that will help him. ... It certainly couldn't hurt.
"When you look at (McKnight's) numbers, it's hard to take his (accomplishments) away from him. I don't want to penalize him for being Mark's friend. I think it helped him in this case because he knew him well. ... That's what you do. We knew a lot about Scotty and we felt good about him. When he was there, we just said, 'Let's give this young man an opportunity.' "
The Star-Ledger reported that Jets coaches told McKnight by phone that he will be asked to contribute on special teams.
McKnight will participate in Sanchez's "Jets West" camp in Southern California next week -- and said he already had planned to do so even if he hadn't been drafted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.