Here's my preseason scouting report on the rapidly ascending draft prospect and potential Heisman Trophy winner, Geno Smith. Written and completed on July 25, the report that follows is based off of 2011 film and has yet to be adjusted for 2012 in-season play.
PLAYER COMPARISON |
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
PROJ. DRAFT POSITION
First Round– Top 15
INJURY HISTORY |
Broken foot suffered in 2010 offseason
Led Big East in passer efficiency rating in '10 & '11
2009: 65.3 comp. %, 309 yards, 1 TD-1 INT
2010: 64.8 comp. %, 2,763 yards, 24 TD-7 INT
2011: 65.8 comp. %, 4,385 yards, 31 TD-7 INT
An ESPN Top 150 prospect and Parade High School All-American, Geno Smith was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school. Rated as one of the top quarterbacks in the state of Florida, Smith participated in the Elite 11 quarterback camp prior to his senior season to both improve and showcase his skill level.
And while phenomenally talented, Smith's attention to detail and work ethic have helped him reach his full potential. Smith has run two entirely different offenses in each of his two years as a starter and remained ultra productive in each of those two seasons—starting 26 consecutive games from 2010 to 2011, Smith has compiled over 7,000 yards passing and 56 total touchdowns while throwing just 14 interceptions.
Dedicated to developing both the mental and physical sides of playing quarterback, he certainly has the makeup of a franchise quarterback. Over the past summer, Smith spent a week at the Manning Passing Academy, receiving advice and tips from pros.
The following week, he revisited the Elite 11 camp as a counselor, coaching young recruits from across the nation. I anticipate this prospect to shine brightly during NFL pre-draft interviews.
Long bodied with good core strength and the frame to add weight, Smith looks the part of a young NFL quarterback. At 6'3" and 214 pounds, Geno Smith could very well work his way into a solid 225- to 230-pound build in an NFL workout program.
Smith's foot-speed, coordination and athleticism can be seen through both his pocket mobility and running ability. Though not overpowering or overly explosive as a runner, the fluidity and smoothness of Smith's athletic ability can be seen with his pocket movements, ability to elude rushers and running ability to pick up first downs with his legs.
Likely to time in the mid 4.7's in the 40-yard dash, Smith has good speed to put NFL defenses in a run-pass bind.
The body control, balance and agility exhibited in the pocket are all plus attributes for Smith, as he has the ability to make things happen in tight spaces. In terms of coordination, this prospect also has shown the ability to adjust his arm slot in reaction to throwing lanes, as well as the ability to complete off-balance throws with defenders nearby.
This ability to operate in traffic as a quarterback is so important in the NFL, as defenses have ratcheted up blitz pressure more and more each year—Smith's unique athleticism fits right in with the NFL.
Possessing an outstanding arm, Geno Smith is capable of making all the NFL throws with authority and zip, as the ball jumps off his hand with plus velocity.
An excellent anticipator, Smith gives his receiver the best opportunity to complete the catch, throwing away from defenders and preserving his receiver's momentum; specifically on drag routes, he dials down his velocity to give his receiver a catchable ball. Hitting his receivers right on the numbers, this quarterback earns high marks on accuracy for his elite ball control to all levels of the field.
He is most effective and accurate on curl throws outside the numbers, delivering the ball on time and on target; does an excellent job of placing these throws on his receivers outside shoulder, to allow a quick, upfield turn for yards after the catch.
Another throw that Smith excels at is the deep out to either the outside or the slot receiver.
Throwing from the far hash to far sideline, Smith has the rare ability to attack the all levels of the defense. Working to perfect his deep ball throws, Smith has spent training time this offseason with QB guru George Whitfield to maximize his arm talent and consistently beat defenses vertically.
Tightly wound, compact and over the top with his throwing motion, Geno Smith gets the ball out fast and from an elevated arm slot to keep the ball from being batted down at the line of scrimmage.
Smooth and sudden from separation to delivery, these polished mechanics need no tweaking at the next level. Although there is a whipping windup to his delivery, it should not require correcting, as he is able to quickly rip the ball down field with no release issues.
Smith’s excellence out of the gun, in terms of reaching proper depth with his footwork, maintaining balance through his drop backs and suddenness within the pocket to buy time, will translate immediately to the next level.
By consistently getting good depth on his drop backs, Smith makes the most of his upfront protection.
His unique athleticism and movement skills within the pocket afford intermediate to deep route development, as he is able to avoid the rush and buy time inside or outside the pocket. Able to climb the pocket to avoid speed rushers, Smith more importantly, does an excellent job of keeping focus downfield and resetting his feet to throw.
Showcases plus footwork on designed rollouts, reaching ideal depth, attacking the line of scrimmage, and staying light on his feet.
Calm, cool, collected when forced to move off his spot and reset his feet, Smith's footwork and mechanics don’t break down under pressure, as his feet and shoulders continuously relocate and reset while scanning for open targets.
Smith’s ability to progress through multiple options without panicking enable routes to develop separation downfield and showcases his poise and patience in the pocket. He will confidently step up into throwing lanes, displaying awareness of the rush and pocket presence.
Reading and reacting to coverage post snap very well, Smith locates spots and holes in the defense, through which he releases the football with trust and anticipation to throw his receivers open.
Most impressive was Smith's use of eye-level and pump fakes to move the deep safety and manipulate downfield coverage. Against the nation's top-rated LSU Tigers, Smith's handling of complex pre-snap alignments and correct diagnosis at the line of scrimmage jumped off the tape and spoke volumes to his football IQ and deciphering ability.
With a year of experience in Dana Holgorsen's vaunted spread attack, expect continued progression with Smith's pass instincts.
If ball control is the measuring stick for accuracy, then Geno Smith by all means is a quarterback deserving of the highest accuracy marks. His receivers are rarely forced to break their stride on drags, digs, deep crossing patterns, posts or go routes, as Smith has both the arm talent to drive the ball downfield and the anticipation to lead his receivers with the throw.
Having the experience of throwing a multitude of NFL routes through just two years as a starter, as well as showing extreme efficiency in accurately throwing said routes, bodes well for this prospective NFL Draft prospect.
The biggest improvement in Geno Smith’s game, evident early and throughout the 2011 season, was his pocket presence. When forced to move off his spot and reset his feet in a collapsing pocket, Smith consistently kept his eye level downfield while avoiding the rush.
His patience and poise in a clean pocket, as well as his smooth elusiveness to slide and buy time adjust to a collapsing one, afforded his receivers the time necessary to continually create separation down the field, resulting in a more explosive pass offense.
Equally impressive is how polished and savvy Geno Smith has become as a quarterback. Facing a defense loaded with NFL talent in LSU, Smith proceeded to carve up the soon-to-be SEC West champions by utilizing deceptive eye level and pump fakes in order to manipulate the secondary.
The maturation process could be seen as the season went further and further along, as Smith improved each week in both his timing and command of the offense. In the previous four NFL Drafts, the Big 12 has produced a total of seven first-round draft choices.
As the draft season unfolds, I have a strong feeling Geno Smith will ascend rapidly up draft boards, as he possesses all the physical tools such as size, arm strength and athleticism, along with the polished footwork, high football IQ and mental makeup to succeed in the NFL.
Since his best games came against opponents such as LSU and Clemson, there’s no need to worry about a dip in production. I expect to see continued improvement with Geno Smith, as his work ethic is second to none.
Taking an outlook on the 2012 season, quarterback Geno Smith and head coach Dana Holgorsen could carve up defenses, much in the same way Baylor's quarterback Robert Griffin III and head coach Art Briles did in 2011.
In the second year of the Air Raid attack, Geno Smith will look to build on an already impressive resume.
Playing up to and beyond the capabilities I detailed in my preseason report, Geno Smith has looked more and more like the best senior prospect in the country.
Continuing to showcase the elite ball placement and across the board accuracy that wowed me in 2011 tape, Smith has put on a throwing clinic through the early part of the 2012 season.
Completing 81.4 percent of his 204 pass attempts, Smith already has 1,996 yards through the air (good for a 9.78 yards -per-attempt average), 24 touchdowns and zero, count it, zero interceptions.
His remarkable production through the season's first five games can be directly attributed to Smith's NFL-level presence and command of Dana Holgorsen's explosive offense. Smith's timing, consistent pre-snap reads and confidence in post-snap decision-making have made for an exciting watch and tantalizing treat for NFL teams in need of a quarterback.
Geno Smith's draft grade is only moving up from the Top 15 grade I gave him in the preseason, as he appears more than ready for the NFL game.
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