Geno Smith: West Virginia Quarterback Separated Himself from Pack at Combine
Geno Smith came into the NFL Scouting Combine projected to be the first quarterback taken in the draft. He solidified that status in Indianapolis.
This year's class of quarterbacks has been looked down upon as it compares poorly to last year's group. However, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson would make any set of quarterbacks look bad a year later.
There is certainly talent among the players expected to be drafted in the first few rounds. Matt Barkley, Tyler Wilson, Mike Glennon and others all have big arms, but struggled in their college career in accuracy and decision-making.
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Glennon actually finished last season with the most interceptions in the country, while Wilson and Barkley were not far behind in the Top 15.
Conversely, Smith not only led the nation with 42 touchdowns, but he only threw six interceptions the entire season. He has proven time and again that he has the ability to make smart and accurate throws to succeed at the position.
In the drills at the combine, every quarterback had a chance to show what they can do with no defenders on the field. While this gave the rest of the players a chance to display their strengths, Smith was still the most impressive.
He not only made the short throws, but he also showed off his arm strength by completing deep passes to the receivers in stride.
Other players boosted their stock on the day, but guys like Tyler Bray and E.J. Manuel are too far behind on draft boards to come close to catching the top talent.
Interestingly, Smith gave himself a "C" when he was asked to grade his performance, saying he needed to improve. This humility and willingness to grow is something that every general manager should be excited about in a franchise quarterback.
However, his passing ability was not even the highlight of his combine. The West Virginia player also showed off his elite speed in the 40-yard dash.
Smith led all quarterbacks with a time of 4.59 seconds in the sprint. Most of his competition at the position ran in the 4.90-5.00 range. He also showed off his pure athleticism by finishing first in the broad jump and second in the vertical jump.
Throughout his collegiate career, he was known almost exclusively as a pocket passer. In the last two seasons, he passed for 8,590 yards while rushing for only 118 yards in that time. With this combine performance, he showed that he can add another dimension to his game as a runner.
While it is unlike he becomes a Michael Vick-type runner, his ability to leave the pocket and pick up first downs will be valuable at the next level.
Aside from Manuel from Florida State, no one else in this class has that ability.
Many top quarterbacks in the past choose to skip the combine in order to prevent a poor display that drops them down draft boards. Smith took the risk, and it paid off huge.
The prospect removed all doubts and made it clear that he will be the first quarterback selected in April.
Of course, that still leaves a lot of speculation as to where he will be taken. The Kansas City Chiefs have the first overall pick and were expected to take a quarterback. However, Jay Glazer reported that the team has worked out a trade with the San Francisco 49ers for Alex Smith:
49ers have completed a trade with the Chiefs for Alex Smith, tho can't be official til March 12. Chiefs really made a commitment to Smith— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) February 27, 2013
This will most likely force Smith to move down a few spots, but there are still a lot of teams looking for a new franchise quarterback.
Whether he lands with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals or somewhere else, it is unlikely he falls outside of the Top 10.
Smith has shown he is a top-level talent and he will be in the NFL for a long time.
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