WVU Football

Geno Smith Shouldn't Be Considered a Lock First-Round Pick in 2013 NFL Draft

MORGANTOWN, WV - SEPTEMBER 29:  Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers drops back to pass against the Baylor Bears during the game on September 29, 2012 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IOctober 14, 2012

I won't deny that Geno Smith is a good quarterback. But the hype that has surrounded him since his eight-touchdown game against Baylor has been pretty absurd.

And now, after being thwarted by an unranked Texas Tech team, I can see the bandwagoners jumping off just as quickly as they climbed on. Consider me to be one of the very few that never jumped on in the first place.

The initial thing everyone points to is Smith's outrageous stat lines. Through his first four games, Smith averaged 444.5 yards and five touchdowns per game, with an 83.4 completion percentage. 

Those are incredible stats. The problem is that they came against Marshall, James Madison, Maryland and Baylor. Marshall and James Madison are vastly inferior to West Virginia, and while Maryland and Baylor are more respectable, they are still not exactly tough competition.

Baylor, which Smith threw eight touchdowns against, has one of the worst defenses in the country. The Bears give up an average of 41.6 points per game, 121st in the country. 

In Smith's next two games, he finally gets some good competition against Texas and Texas Tech, and his numbers are: an average of 271.5 yards, 2.5 touchdowns and a 60 percent completion percentage.

Good numbers, but nothing special.

Texas also got slammed by Oklahoma on Saturday, 63-21, making West Virginia's 48-45 victory over the Longhorns look much less impressive. 

But after those first five games, everyone was ready to anoint Smith as the No. 1 draft pick, automatic Heisman winner, and had him to leading his team to BCS championship contention. 

And then he went into Lubbock, Texas, and got steamrolled by the Red Raiders. In the 49-14 loss, Smith threw only one touchdown and had a 52.7 completion percentage. 

Smith also benefits heavily from his incredible wide receiver duo of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Both are explosive playmakers with great hands. They never drop passes, and rack up a ton of yards after they catch the ball. 

Austin in particular has dynamic breakaway speed, and routinely takes a five-yard slant or quick screen pass and turns it into a huge gain, thus inflating Smith's stats. 

Bailey caught a touchdown pass in the first quarter, but after he was hurt at the end of the second quarter, Smith didn't throw another touchdown, as Texas Tech was able to zone in on Austin and limit Smith's effectiveness. 

But I don't want to rely only on stats for analysis here. On tape, I still don't see Smith as being the definite top pick that everyone was calling him.

He has a very strong arm, can put the ball on a rope through the smallest window anywhere inside of 25 yards, and is more than athletic enough to escape the pocket. 

But any time he has to put some air under the ball, whether it's on a long throw or a short lob pass, he struggles. I also think he's a little too jumpy in the pocket, even though he usually has a ton of time to throw. 

I think NFL scouts are going to question how much Dana Holgorsen's system and West Virginia's talented wide receivers have helped Smith, and if he's capable of making all the NFL throws that his coaches will demand.

Smith has a lot of potential. He's got a strong arm, he's athletic, and could become a good NFL quarterback with good coaching. And while he could go in the first round, I don't think that's a lock at all, and I'd be really surprised if he goes in the top five or 10.

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