The Beast Inside Your Head
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: St. Joseph
Casino cash: $27352
When Geno Smith came in for QB camp, there were a couple of big questions to address in assessing his value.
For one, you start with the question of production. With Smith, the one I get asked is this: "Is this guy simply a product of a system?" I get it. Hey, those big numbers cut both ways. They might look good, but they also make scouts suspicious. Does the system create the quarterback, or is the quarterback maximizing the system? I mean, 42 touchdowns and six picks?
Here's what I see.
Maybe the system is great, but I don't know of a quarterback who has had as many decision-making opportunities as Smith had. And you know what? He made the right decisions. For instance: Every running play that was called, he had the option to hand the ball off, but he could also check out of the play and throw it. There were always options.
Every single play they could hand it off, or throw a bubble screen or a tap screen (he completed 112 screen passes in 2012) and as a product of some of those plays, you get hit in the face and you've got to be back on the ball again before you can even say, "West Virginia.'' There's a pace to the decisions. That offense would drive a lot of quarterbacks crazy. It's hard. It isn't just "easy production" -- it can simply look easy if you have a great decision-maker. I like the mental grind that he's been trained to deal with.
It's hard to find prospects such as Smith who possess that size and that speed, but it's also that ability to make quick decisions. I think it's a great accomplishment that he ran that offense like he did. I don't like to simply say because of a track record with a system, "He's got inflated production." I hate when people say that. It's bull. The same systems can produce entirely different prospects. Smith's given himself a chance to be the No. 1 pick in the draft because he can make decisions.
The second question I'm asked is: With the recent trends with read-option capability in guys like Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III, is Smith really a threat in multiple ways? The numbers don't really point to that, after all. The guy had a total of 152 yards rushing last year. But as I said, he's not lacking speed.
I think what's most intriguing about him is that the read-option capabilities are there, even if we didn't see a lot of it. Look, I don't ever want to just have a quarterback come into the NFL and think he essentially majored in the read-option. In the current NFL, I think there's a place for it because it does regulate what the defense can do. You get to dictate matchups and create a threat if the guy has that running skill.
So if you can be a real threat to do that, like Wilson or Kaepernick can with the right combination of size and speed, and also master the protections and master the pocket like Smith is capable of, you create that double-edged combination. If that's what you want from him, I think he can be dangerous. The way I see it, if Smith gets with the right guy and can stay in the same system to develop, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen has proved how he can. So you can draft him having seen him adjust to a new system and take off.
Once you get those two questions out the way, you deal with the last one. The one I've been asked is whether this guy is truly worthy of a No. 1 pick.
I answer that by considering where he is not in every draft, but for this class specifically. In this class, I definitely think he's a guy you could take at No. 1, or at least in that range if it's your top need. Sure, a lot of people say he's not as good as Andrew Luck or Griffin. Well, last time I checked, those guys aren't in this draft. It's supply and demand. In this league, you need a quarterback, and if you're a general manager or a coach you can't just operate with the idea you're content to wait until you're in the perfect position to take a can't-miss prospect. In this class, the closest thing to that is Smith. And if I needed a quarterback, I'd be willing to take him high.
We know he can throw the ball. I think he certainly can get a little better at his footwork, and it's something I tried to point out in working with him. But we know and like the overall athleticism he has. In the end, I think he's going to be a heck of a player, and that also has to do with experience.
Smith has seen it all, and so as you evaluate, you can, too. You're getting to see a body of work over four years, and it's a big body of work. We saw him play in big games, and we saw him play under two different coaches. He's had an incredible amount of things happen to him. I like that he's come from Miami all the way to West Virginia and hasn't just played for the two coaches, but has also gone from the Big East to the Big 12. A lot of people don't think that's a big deal. It is. When they realigned the NFC and the Buccaneers went from the NFC Central to the NFC South, it was a bigger deal than people realized. Switching conferences and playing teams that you're not used to playing is a very big deal.
In the end, it comes down to upside. Smith is big enough, athletic enough and sharp in his decision-making. He's charismatic and passionate. In his case, and in this QB class, if the need is there, I'm not sure what else you're looking for