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Todd Bowles: Geno Smith's our 'No. 1 guy right now'

Jets owner Woody Johnson raised eyebrows on Monday when he told reporters at the NFL Annual Meeting that Geno Smithwas "way ahead" of Marcus Mariota.

We're still not exactly sure what Johnson meant. How is Geno ahead? NFL experience? Talent? Frequent flyer miles? Still, it was the latest indicator that New York isn't ready to give up on Smith, the former second-round pick who has been a picture of inconsistency in his first two seasons.

The Jets traded for Ryan Fitzpatrick this offseason and will likely change the QB dynamic after last summer's faux competition for the starting job between Smith and Michael Vick. Bowles said on Tuesday's edition of NFL AM that Smith has the early advantage.

"He's the No. 1 guy right now," Bowles told NFL Media's Tiffany Blackmon. "Fitzpatrick is injured and we don't have a draft yet, but we're looking at a competition there based on the way he finished the last game and some of the things he did, he did a great job doing that but without seeing him and sitting down and talking to him it's kind of hard to say right now. He has made some strides."

Bowles deftly side-stepped a follow-up question about the Jets using their No. 6 overall pick on a quarterback. Mariota has been consistently connected to the Jets.

"We're going to take the best player," he said. "I think (general manager) Mike (Maccagnan) said it earlier that we're going to take the best player available. We're not going to deviate from our board and if that happens to be a quarterback, then we'll take a quarterback."

Bowles told a pack of reporters at Tuesday's coaches breakfast that Smith "is going to get the majority of the reps" during the early portion of the team's offseason program. Smith has the early advantage, but don't confuse that with true favorite status. A lot can still change.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps the inaugural Veteran Combine and discusses which star players were helped (and hurt) by free agency. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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