Early in Friday's proceedings, the big names had taken over from the bulk and beef of opening night, when 18 linemen went in the first round.
Te'o, who led the Fighting Irish to the national championship game, was projected as a first-rounder last year. But his poor performance in a rout at the hands of Alabama, some slow workouts, and a tabloid-ready hoax involving a fake girlfriend that became a national soap opera dropped his stock.
When former Chargers defensive back Jim Hill was handed the card to make the announcement by Commissioner Roger Goodell, he was told, "You're going to get a big cheer when you announce this pick."
It was more a mix of surprise and recognition of the most talked-about player in the draft finally finding a landing spot at No. 38 overall.
The Chargers traded up with Arizona to grab Te'o, the Heisman Trophy runner-up. Te'o ran a 4.82-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, slow for a linebacker. He did better at Notre Dame's pro day, but NFL teams already had plenty of football reasons to doubt his worthiness as a first-round pick.
He was the third linebacker chosen in this draft.
With the very next pick, the Jets sent their QB situation spiraling into further chaos. They already have Mark Sanchez, who struggled last season but was brought back in great part because of a prohibitive contract. They still have Tim Tebow, who almost certainly soon will be cut. They signed David Garrard, who hasn't played in the NFL since 2010.
And now there is Smith, who waited futilely throughout the first round, returned to the theater Friday and was rewarded.
"It's extremely relieving. I withstood the test of time," he said. "It felt like forever in there."
Safety Johnathan Cyprien of Florida International was the first selection of the second round. Cyprien was a standout in the Sun Belt Conference and really solidified his stock with an excellent performance in the Senior Bowl.
Other early picks Friday were Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter by the Titans, who traded up with San Francisco; Stanford All-America tight end Zach Ertz by Philadelphia; and North Carolina's Gio Bernard, the first running back chosen, by Cincinnati.
Cleveland used its second-rounder, which would have been 39th overall, in last year's supplemental draft to take wide receiver Josh Gordon of Baylor, who made 50 catches for the Browns in 2012.
New Orleans was stripped of its second-round pick in the bounty scandal.