How Would Geno Smith Look in the Oakland Raiders' Offense?

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystFebruary 28, 2013

MORGANTOWN, WV - OCTOBER 20:  Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers hands the ball off against the Kansas State Wildcats during the game on October 20, 2012 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Much has been made of this year's crop of quarterbacks, and while the class of 2013 may not have a perceived "can't miss" prospect like Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin, West Virginia's Geno Smith is generally regarded as the best of this year's bunch.

As ESPN's Bill Williamson reports, colleague Chris Mortensen reported Wednesday that sources said the Oakland Raiders are considering drafting Smith with the third overall pick.

It's worth noting, as both Williamson and other sources have pointed out, that it's "smokescreen season." The information relayed to Mortensen could easily have been an attempt by Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie to drum up interest in the third pick from a team that has its eye on Smith.

However, for the sake of argument, let's assume that it isn't a smokescreen, and that the Raiders have a genuine interest in potentially drafting Smith in April's first round.

What could fans of the silver and black expect from the youngster as a rookie?

On the plus side, Smith likely possesses the most upside of any signal-caller entering the NFL in 2013. He was wildly productive last season for the Mountaineers, throwing for nearly 4,200 yards and 42 touchdowns.

Arm strength isn't really an issue either, nor is accuracy. Granted, Smith can't necessarily be considered an "elite" talent in either category. However, as Smith showed against LSU, he's more than capable of hitting receivers down the field in stride.

The 6'2", 218-pounder also has plenty of athleticism. Smith's 4.59-second 40-yard dash time was the fastest of all passers at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, and Smith demonstrated against the Clemson Tigers that he can avoid the pass rush while simultaneously keeping an eye out for the open man downfield.

That isn't to say there isn't significant room for improvement in Smith's game.

Like many young quarterbacks, Smith's footwork and mechanics could use some work, and at times the youngster made questionable decisions as a senior in Morgantown.

Granted, Smith avoids the rush on this play against Baylor and completes a touchdown pass, but floating passes off your back foot in the National Football League is a good way to kill a drive.

The problem with Smith in Oakland isn't so much the player as much as the fit.

New offensive coordinator Greg Olson told reporters back in January that he intends to tailor the Oakland offense around its personnel in 2013 according to Paul Gutierrez of Comcast Sports Net.

The Raiders don't really have the personnel to surround Smith with what would appear to insure a successful rookie campaign.

Running back Darren McFadden is talented, but he has battled injuries throughout his career and is coming off a horrific 2012 season in which he averaged less than 3.5 yards a carry.

Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey has been widely mentioned as a potential salary cap casualty. Fellow wideout Denarius Moore battled injuries of his own last year and is still more potential than production. Tight end Brandon Myers, who had a breakout season in 2012, is a free agent.

Throw in a bad defense and an offensive line that ranked 29th in the NFL last year, according to Football Outsiders, and there would appear to be a great deal of pressure waiting on Smith should he wind up in Oakland.

That's not a good thing.

The biggest knock on Smith may have less to do with his physical skills than what's going on between his ears.

In an October game in which West Virginia was blasted by Kansas State and Smith threw two interceptions, the youngster did not appear to handle the pressure of a big game that wasn't going according to plan, looking frustrated and out of sorts throughout the contest.

If Smith thought that was bad, wait until he gets to Oakland.

As I said, this is as likely as not much ado about nothing. The Raiders' "interest" in Smith may be less about him and more about scaring another NFL team into trading up.

Hopefully that's the case. The Raiders have any number of holes to fill on both sides of the ball and could certainly use the extra picks, and while Smith may well turn out to be a successful NFL QB as things stand today the odds aren't good that it would happen in Oakland.


All GIFs Courtesy of Brett Gering