After sliding out of the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night, Geno Smith with be carrying a big chip on his shoulder when the 2013 season begins. If the West Virginia signal-caller is to silence his critics, he should hope to join a team on which he can compete for a starting role this season.
Smith was expected to be a top-10 selection in this year’s draft, but the apparent lack of interest facilitated a slide beyond the 32nd pick—a slide that should have teams salivating as the second round draws near.
The 22-year-old may not have the elite talent of Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin of last year’s draft class, but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest he can be a quality NFL quarterback.
At 6’2” and 218 pounds, Smith has the frame, athleticism and mobility to make a smooth transition to a much faster NFL game. His arm is among the strongest in this draft class, and his college production can’t be overlooked. With 11,346 yards and 97 touchdown passes in his final three years at West Virginia, Smith established himself as one of the most productive players in the country at any position.
Arguments can be made in opposition of Smith’s pro potential, but there’s really no way of predicting what he will do at the NFL level. What we can predict, however, is which teams may be interested in adding the signal-caller in the second round.
Let’s take a look at three of Smith’s potential landing spots and break down the likelihood of the West Virginia product earning a starting role in 2013.
33. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars were long rumored to be interested in finding a replacement for Blaine Gabbert. Despite his first-round selection in 2011, the Missouri product has failed to impress at the NFL level, and his days may be numbered in Jacksonville.
Still, the Jaguars don’t have a special player at the position who can challenge Gabbert and backup quarterback Chad Henne. David Caldwell would be wise to look for one on Day 2 of the draft, and Smith would be an excellent choice.
Jacksonville has shown little faith in Gabbert this offseason, and offensive coordinator Jeff Fisch has admitted to facilitating a competition for the starting role this season (per Larry Hartstein of CBS Sports). Smith could easily take part in an open competition, and there may not be a better situation for him to do so.
35. Philadelphia Eagles
Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Dennis Dixon will likely all be competing for the starting role in Chip Kelly’s offense this season, but that doesn’t mean Philadelphia’s new head coach won’t still be looking for another option.
Kelly’s offense is notoriously up-tempo, featuring a lot of screen passes and read-option looks. Given Smith’s high volume of screen passes in his time at West Virginia and his tremendous athleticism, Kelly won’t find a better option on Day 2 to run his offense.
Still, the quarterback competition will be a crowded contest this year. Vick has been largely disappointing in recent years, but he fits the mold of what Kelly has liked to do with his recent offenses. Should Smith be added to the mix, he’ll have to really impress to earn the starting job in 2013.
42. Oakland Raiders
Despite trading for Matt Flynn this offseason, Oakland could still use another option at the quarterback position. Flynn is mostly untested in the NFL, and the same holds true for backup signal-caller Terrelle Pryor.
Some believed the Raiders would be a potential landing spot for Smith in the first round (where the value wouldn’t be as favorable), and a selection in the second round now seems like an even more likely scenario.
The Raiders have plenty of holes to fill on both sides of the ball, though. If general manager Reggie McKenzie is in search of a safer option at No. 42, he may pass on the position altogether in favor of a pass-rusher or offensive lineman.
But if McKenzie plans to be bold and take a chance on a future franchise quarterback, Smith will be his best option with this pick (should he still be available). And there’s no reason to believe the West Virginia product won’t be in line to compete for the starting role should that be the case.