After a long Thursday night in the green room, the "Geno-slide" is over. Without moving up, the Jets have landed the consensus top quarterback in the draft at the top of the second round, providing tremendous value.
Still, draft-day value is thrown out the window on Sunday afternoons. Smith is far from a sure thing at the quarterback position and will need to be properly coached if the Jets want to nourish their quarterback into a system before he falls on his face.
In other words, they need to do the exact opposite of what they did while bringing up Mark Sanchez.
The good new is, the Jets finally have an offensive coordinator in the building with a proven track record of developing young quarterbacks. Just looking at recent success, Marty Mornhinweg has gotten the best production out of Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Kevin Kolb and Nick Foles relative to the rest of their careers (although Foles was a rookie). Unlike Brian Schottenheimer and Tony Sparano, Mornhinweg builds his system around his quarterback—not the other way around.
Mornhinweg runs a predominant West Coast offense, but don't expect nothing but screens and slants from the Jets. During his time with the Eagles, Mornhinweg attacked the deeper part of the field early and often, and Smith has the arm strength to make downfield throws.
What is most impressive about Geno Smith's game is how he is able to climb the pocket to evade a rush while keeping his eyes downfield to deliver the football. He is not afraid to take a hit as long as the pass is completed. When he is under pressure, he changes his arm angle to make awkward throws, without sacrificing arm strength or accuracy—a necessary trait in the NFL.
Smith could also be an excellent fit in the increasingly popular Pistol package, which Rex Ryan has hinted as a possible scheme change for the Jets (per NFL.com). Smith does not have nearly the kind of running ability that Colin Kaepernick has, as he is more reluctant to take off even when he has the space to do so. However, he did impress with a 4.59 40-yard dash, so the ability to run in an option system is there.
More importantly, Smith is an accurate passer—especially between the numbers, which fits perfectly into basic West Coast principles. There will be a lot of timing and rhythm in the Jets offense, as opposed to a run-first, play-action-heavy downfield attacking system. Smith is known to be a bit of a streaky passer—he racked up 70 points in a game against Baylor, then crumbled in a 14-point effort in the Pinstripe Bowl against Syracuse.
The biggest flaw in Geno's game from a technical, on-field standpoint is that he struggles to make throws between the numbers. Geno has a strong arm when throwing downfield, but he needs to learn to drive the ball with his feet, as NFL defensive backs will feast on underthrown balls to the perimeter.
Also working against Smith as a fit in New York is that most of his bad games, including the snowy Pinstripe Bowl, were played in cold whether. Such a weakness is not as evident in a college football season that is over by mid-November, but the NFL season is played in as much, cold weather as warm—if not more.
In any case, the Jets managed to get themselves the player who many consider to be the best quarterback in the draft in the top of the second round—without having to trade any picks to do so. This certainly makes it tough to find a seat in the Jets' quarterback meeting room, but it at least signifies a new direction for the Jets, who appear ready to move on from the Sanchez era.
This time, the Jets need to find the right system for Smith and give him a quality and consistent set of weapons to work with, or Smith will suffer the same fate as Mark Sanchez.