That included the Buffalo Bills, who traded down to No. 16 overall and selected...quarterback E.J. Manuel of Florida State.
How could this happen? After all, Smith was supposed to be the top quarterback selected this year.
Well, you can only assume that teams didn't like his footwork, or his blitz awareness, or the way he finished the 2012 season with the Mountaineers or the fact that he didn't participate in Senior Bowl week.
It certainly can't be his character, unless you listen to Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly. It can't be his arm strength—he has one of the best arms in the class. It can't be his mobility. And while Smith struggled with his accuracy early in his career at West Virginia, he improved greatly in that area during his senior season.
Geno Smith's Passing Stats the Past Two Years
It didn't make sense that a few quarterback-needy teams would pass on Smith. It certainly didn't make sense that the Bills would draft Manuel instead of Smith.
But here Smith is, waiting for his name to be called heading into Day 2 of the draft. In fact, Smith has decided to head back home and not attend the draft on Day 2, according to Suzy Kolber of ESPN.
Can't say I blame him.
Is Smith an elite quarterback prospect? No. But did he deserve to hear his name called on Day 1?
Smith was by far the best quarterback prospect in this year's class, when you take into account his arm strength, improved accuracy and mobility. There may have been concerns about his decision-making and awareness in the pocket, but those concerns should have paled in comparison to the weaknesses of the other quarterbacks in the class, including Manuel (who is incredibly raw).
It didn't go over the head of Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers, who was passed up for Alex Smith in the 2005 draft and slid to No. 24 overall.
Rodgers tweeted on Thursday after the first round:
Aaron Rodgers @AaronRodgers12
Hang in there Geno, "good things come to those who wait" -Paul Tagliabue4/26/2013, 2:50:44 AM
Smith's best-case scenario at this point is if the Jacksonville Jaguars—who grabbed offensive tackle Luke Joeckel at No. 2 overall—draft the West Virginia product with the first pick in the second round. Given the way young quarterback Blaine Gabbert has progressed thus far (or hasn't), Jacksonville would be a logical place for Smith to land.
Then again, there was nothing logical about Smith being passed up in the first round on Thursday.
Smith may never be a Pro Bowler, but he has the tools to be a franchise quarterback. And franchise quarterbacks, in a perfect world, should be selected in the first round.
The look on Smith's face as teams passed him by on Thursday was one of anguish, shock and despair. But the quarterback-needy teams that doubted Smith's abilities will be making the same face down the road.
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