Geno Smith was a gifted student and has no signs of character issues.
Geno Smith is on the slighter-edge of generally accepting ideal. Smith could use to add five pounds to help him deal with the ware of taking hits at the NFL level. He’s expected to measure in at the combine closer to 6’3 than 6’2, but a slightly smaller measurement wouldn’t effect him. NFL teams would probably like to see him weigh in at about 225.
Simply put, Geno Smith is the kind of guy you want running your offense. Above all else, he’ll hold himself and other players accountable.
Perhaps his best attribute, Geno Smith’s fluidity in the pocket is apparent. His footwork, in the ability to side-step pass rushers, step into the pocket, and slide within the pocket is strong. Because of this, he’s able to work himself into a strong position to throw the football down the field.
Pocket presence, especially on his blind side:
Geno Smith’s stance is a little unusual. His upper-body is turned slightly more than the usual right-handed quarterback, shifting his blind-spot from the left side to the right. Because of this, tradition attempts to rush the passer will be less effective against Smith.
Accuracy to the left, down the middle
Again, because of his unusual stance, Geno Smith is incredibly comfortable with the left side of the field. His accuracy is strongest, in my opinion, to the left side of the field. His accuracy to the middle of the field isn’t far off. That’s not to imply that he’s necessarily inaccurate throwing to his right.
Again, because of his unusual throwing stance, Geno Smith is far more comfortable with designed roll-outs against his body than the average Quarterback. Generally, when you roll a Quarterback against his body the torque required to make a proper throw down the field results in a loss of accuracy and velocity that I just did not see when studying Geno Smith. His ability rolling to his natural side is functional as well.
Instincts while running
Geno Smith isn’t going to get confused for Robert Griffin, Michael Vick, or Cam Newton, but he’s a very functional runner that shows good instincts for the NFL level. During his senior season he made very good decisions on when to run, when to slide, and when to try to push for extra yardage. This tells me that he processes information efficiently enough to make sound decisions at full speed. This may be overlooked by some, but it’s a strong indicator of the ability to function mentally at the NFL level.
Ability to get through reads
I think there were some instances where Geno Smith locked in on his Wide Receivers, but I don’t think that was because of an inability to get through reads. I believe that in most of the instances of Geno Smith locking in, the cause was Dana Holgorson’s offense that caused the apparent lack of reads.
When studying Geno Smith, I seen a strong ability to get through reads when the play-call required Geno Smith to do that. In the other cases, I believe it’s more about Geno Smith misreading defenses pre-snap and not making the adjustment quickly enough to correct his mistake.
A lot was made about Geno Smith’s disappointing performance against Syracuse in his final game, but Geno Smith played three of his strongest games during his time at West Virginia against premiere competition. His 2011 performance against LSU was incredibly strong, as was his performances against Texas and Oklahoma his Senior season. I’ll talk more about the Syracuse game later.
Back-shoulder throws and anticipation:
I hate to beat the dead horse, but to the left side of the formation, Geno Smith’s ability to time throws and accurately place back-shoulder throws is a huge bonus and will be an important part of his arsenal at the NFL level.
Progression as a Senior:
Another strong indicator of success at the NFL is continued progression during your time in college. When studying Geno Smith, I found that there were a lot of deficiencies earlier in the season (Specifically accuracy to his right side and velocity over the middle) that were dramatically better at the end of the season.
As mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t be so worried about his ability to get through reads. I think concerns of that nature are overblown. His ability to accurately read defenses pre-snap and make adjustments before and during the play are an area of concern for me. Because of Geno’s knowledge, intelligence, and work ethic, I don’t think it’s something that causes you not to draft him, but it’s one of the things that will hold him back as a rookie. With a strong Quarterback coach, this deficiency should improve rather quickly.
General lack of comfort of the right side of the field:
Deep touch passes are there, but Geno Smith’s comfort throwing flag routes and corner routes to his right side is an area of concern. I think this stems from his slightly unusual stance, but I’m unsure how changing his stance would effect his abilities in other regards.
Expecting Receivers to “win routes.”
Relying on your Receivers to “win routes” isn’t a bad thing, especially when stretching a defense down the field, but if his reads dictate that he should go to a certain Wide Receiver with the ball, he will throw the ball even into fantastic coverage. You can argue that, in these instances, the Wide Receiver is to blame, but it will create turnovers regardless of who is at fault. As long as you have Receivers that will win routes more often than not, this won’t be a problem, but Geno Smith won’t be able to make Wide Receivers.
vs. the Blitz:
One of the areas of concern you have with Geno Smith is his ability to deal with the standard pass rush of the NFL. Geno Smith was the benefactor of very strong pass protection during his time at West Virginia, due mostly to Dana Holgorson’s offense having so many plays that spread the opposing team’s defense from sideline to sideline. I think, at this time, his ability to deal with the rush is unknown. We’ll see how he adjusts to a more traditional offensive look in the NFL.
Despite having above-average velocity, Geno Smith’s ball flutters in colder weather. Smith doesn’t appear to be as comfortable handling the ball in colder weather and, because of this, his otherwise solid velocity can appear poor.
SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE
Geno does have a bit of a hitch in his delivery, but there are a lot of guys at the NFL level that don’t have traditional throwing motions. As I mentioned with Matthew Stafford, throwing motion seems only to be a problem when the quarterback isn’t winning; I don’t think there is any significant difference.
Short throws over the middle are very strong. (That’s a strong indicator of Red Zone efficiency.) Velocity on outside routes is somewhat disappointing, but got stronger as the year went on. As mentioned, cold weather seems to be a real issue, but could just be a lack of familiarity.
WHERE HE FITS
It’s really hard for me to anticipate Geno Smith, who is the only potential Franchise Quarterback on the market (Including Free Agency and players likely available for trade.) getting past Kansas City at #1 overall. Smith doesn’t have the same sort of potential that Griffin and Luck had a year ago (I said that they would both be elite Quarterbacks at their peak, in the same group as I’d put Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning in now.)
Geno Smith’s upside is in the next group; the Franchise Quarterbacks (Eli Manning, Jay Cutler, Cam Newton, etc.) I have a working value-added equation to account for positional value in the draft. Based on my grade and my added-value ratings, Geno Smith is the most valuable player in the draft, narrowly edging the higher graded Luke Joeckel. When you factor the market for Left Tackles (They could resign Brandon Albert, Jason Peters is likely available at a relatively low cost in a trade, Jake Long is a Free Agent, etc.) I think the #1 pick will be a no-brainer come April.
If, for whatever reason, Geno Smith gets past Kansas City, there is almost no possible way he slides past Oakland at 3, considering Jacksonville would also likely take Smith.
I think Geno Smith will be strong early on in the season, but will look less impressive as his rookie season moves along as defenses throw more exotic looks at him and the temperature drops. I believe there will be some rough patches early on, but Smith will reward whichever team takes him with the ability to create a high-functioning system that will result in repeated playoff appearances.