Comparing Geno Smith to Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Jets QBs

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers drops back to pass against the Marshall Thundering Herd during the game on September 1, 2012 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

A jumbled quarterback situation recently became even more complicated for the New York Jets when the organization decided to draft Geno Smith. This leaves a lot of questions about who will be the team's quarterback of the future.

With the addition of the second-round pick, the Jets now have multiple options for the position. Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy, Tim Tebow and David Garrard all have various levels of experience, and each brings something different to the position.

In a press conference, general manager John Idzik spoke about the need to bring in competition at every position:

Obviously, there will be a battle for the starting spot, but who will win?

Here is a look at multiple factors that could help determine the next starting quarterback of the Jets.

Passing Accuracy

A lack of throwing accuracy was one of the biggest problems for Jets quarterbacks last season. Fans can recall watching plenty of passes either sail over the heads of open receivers or land five yards short.

Sanchez had the third-lowest completion percentage in the league with a 54.3 mark. The year before, it was Tebow at the bottom of that category after completing 46.5 percent of his passes as Denver's quarterback.

Neither quarterback has shown the ability in his career to be an accurate passer, and that has held each of them back to this point.

While there is a lot of unknown surrounding Garrard considering he has not taken a snap since 2010, he had at least average accuracy when he was playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars. His 61.6 percent career completion percentage would have ranked 14th in the league last season.

However, this category is actually a strength for Smith. The incoming rookie had more room to work in a spread offense at West Virginia, but it is hard to deny his 71.2 completion percentage.

Beyond that, he has a solid touch on both short and intermediate passes, and he will be able to get the ball to his receivers with more consistency than anyone else on the roster.

Advantage: Geno Smith

Arm Strength

This is one area where Smith fell behind other players in the draft. He had decent zip on short routes, but he struggled at times to hit his targets on longer passes.

Conversely, Sanchez is actually pretty strong when throwing the ball and is often able to find his receivers far down the field. 

He was hurt in this area in 2012 by a lack of explosiveness at receiver, but he was able to connect with Jeremy Kerley 14 times on plays of 20 yards or more. With more experience and talent at the position, Sanchez could have had a better year throwing the deep ball.

The same cannot be said about either Tebow or Garrard, both of whom are well below average when it comes to arm strength. 

If the team wants to take advantage of the downfield ability of young players like Stephen Hill, Sanchez might be the best option.

Advantage: Mark Sanchez

Avoiding Turnovers

New York tied with two other teams for last in the league with 37 giveaways last season. It is hard to win games when you cannot hold on to the ball.

With 18 interceptions to go with only 13 touchdowns, it is clear that Sanchez is not the best at getting the ball to his own teammates.

In his last chance to be a starter during 2011, Tebow was slightly better with six interceptions in 271 attempts, although he also had 13 fumbles as a passer and a runner. His slow release will cause that to continue to be a problem. 

There was a time when Garrard was one of the best in the league in ball security. In 2007, he led the league with a 0.9 percent interception rate, according to Pro Football Reference. However, that number inflated to 2.4 percent in 2008 and 4.1 percent in his final year in 2010.

Combining his decline with his obvious rust after years away from the game, there are certain to be plenty of mistakes.

Once again, this leaves Smith as the best option after completing 42 touchdowns and only six interceptions last season. The spread offense requires quick decision-making, and he showed the ability to do that perfectly while getting the ball to his receivers and not the other team.

Things will be tougher at the next level, but his intelligence will take him a long way.

Advantage: Geno Smith


Sanchez has never been more than a pocket passer, which takes him out of the equation immediately. Garrard was once a threat with his legs, but it is hard to imagine the 35-year-old quarterback moving as well nowadays.

This leaves a competition between Smith and Tebow.

The West Virginia player definitely has more speed as he showed in the NFL combine by running the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds.

However, he rarely used that on the field as he generally stayed in the pocket in his college career. Meanwhile, Tebow is a strong runner who is not afraid to put his head down to fight for extra yards if needed.

When it comes to ability to move around in games, Tebow holds the strong advantage in this category.

Advantage: Tim Tebow


No matter when he gets his opportunity, Smith will likely struggle out of the gate. Most rookies go through growing pains, and less-polished players have it even worse.

If the team wants to win right away, the rookie is probably not the best option to be a leader.

While Sanchez and Tebow both have experience and have even won playoff games, there has not been a lot of positive to take from their past performances. 

This leaves Garrard as the lone proven leader on the roster. He had many strong years with the Jaguars before the team wanted to get younger, and he posted a winning record in 76 career starts.

He can provide a new voice in the huddle with enough leadership to carry the team to a few extra wins.

Advantage: David Garrard


The Jets will not be able to name a starting quarterback until they decide what they want out of the season. If it is important to win games now, Garrard might have the best all-around game to go with his valuable experience.

However, as we have seen, Smith is the most talented quarterback on the roster and can offer a little bit of everything. He is far superior in a few categories, while he is still comparable in others.

If New York wants to make the best long-term decision for the organization, Smith is the player who should be on the field as soon as possible.