Time to state my case for Geno Smith in the 2013 NFL Draft.
If you've seen me on Twitter (@bkissel7) you know that I've been pro-Geno Smith for quite a while now. Some of you can take a deep breath: I'm not anti-Mike Glennon or Tyler Wilson but I do think Smith is the best quarterback prospect in this draft.
Smith will separate himself as that top quarterback in this draft as we get closer to April. This article by Ivan Maisel gives us a few reasons why he will, and I'll tack on to that.
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The article talks about more than just his stats on the field -- those are impressive enough -- but goes to show who Geno Smith is off the field. What type of person he is and how he approaches the game of football. "Football Nerd" is the perfect headline for it. These things will become evident as coaches, front office personnel and scouts get a chance to talk with Smith leading up to April's draft.
Maisel interviewed Smith right after his video game-like performance against Baylor in September when he completed 88 percent of his passes (45-51) while throwing for 656 yards and eight touchdowns.
After the game, he (Smith) said he would celebrate by returning to the football building to watch video of No. 11 Texas, the defense he will face Saturday night.
Which is all you really need to know.
First of all, Smith is a football nerd. He did exactly what he wanted to do Saturday night. There's nothing he likes to do more than come into the football building and watch video, except maybe to download game or practice video onto his iPad to take home and watch.
West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen called Smith, "The most competitive guy I've been around" in that same article. Smith's been described as a 'football nerd' or 'film junkie' and that combined with how competitive he is as a player, I don't see a lot of negatives on Smith as to how he prepares for his craft.
My favorite quote from this article though is how Smith responds to how he approaches the game mentally. It's a chess match and he's already a few moves ahead.
"I feel like I don't see it as myself against those defensive players, because they don't come up with their game plan. I see it as myself against the defensive coordinator. So I'll get plays and I'll get looks, and I'll figure out what they're doing, which formations, which personnel, and I'll figure out ways to counter it, so the next time I got that look, I would know exactly what to do."
Now let's talk about the fun stuff and show you some of it too.
I've said before the one single reason above all else that I like Geno Smith is his ability to manipulate the pocket while keeping his eyes down field.
Here's an example against Texas.
He is calm with chaos around him and that cannot be taught or developed in my opinion. This is the anti-Matt Cassel.
I think most people by now understand that Geno Smith is not a running quarterback. He is a pocket passer with enough athleticism to extend a play or escape pressure when needed. Two Texas players with free shots at Smith weren't able to bring him down until he picked up seven yards on this scramble. Neither Tyler Wilson or Mike Glennon could have made this play. That guy he's running from, Alex Okafor (#80), is one of the top OLB prospects in the draft.
This next play shows two things that really stood out to me. The first was recognizing the pressure and calmly stepping up in the pocket to give himself a clean throwing lane. The second is the accuracy and touch to put the ball in a place that only his WR could catch it for the TD. There is a lot of 'touch' on this pass.
This next play is another one of those underrated throws for me. Not just for Smith but for any QB. He shows great arm strength here but you're looking at the accuracy and the timing. If this ball isn't thrown as a dart and flutters at all, No. 7, the 'Honey Badger' (or as I call him our 4th round pick) takes that ball to the house on a pick six. Smith perfectly leads Tavon Austin which makes this a six-yard gain instead of just a one-yard gain.
This next play is just. plain. awesome. He escapes the near sack attempt from LSU's Barkevious (Keke) Mingo, another top draft prospect this year by the way, spins, and still has the composure to get his eyes down field and deliver a strike for a first down. Again, it's not about the spin move, it's about the calmness to then get your eyes down the field to make a play. It's also a great display of arm strength considering he's throwing on the run.
So far you've seen accuracy on a short slant and a quick out pass. Here are the kinds of passes that gets everyone else excited. The touch on a deep ball to drop it in on a dime. It looks like he barely threw the ball .... barely threw it 47 yards down the field. I also really like that he led the ball to the outside shoulder of the WR, where only the WR would be able to make a play.
You've seen the touch on a deep ball so now let's look at one on a short throw. Another absolute dime dropped by Smith to the outside shoulder on a fade in the end-zone. You cannot throw a football any more perfectly than this right here.
This last clip is the single most impressive play I saw from Geno Smith after watching every pass he made against Kansas, Marshall, LSU, Texas, Baylor and Kansas State. This play shows everything you want to see from a NFL prospect. He goes through his progressions, he faces pressure, shows arm strength, accuracy and timing on a far-hash to outside the numbers throw. It doesn't get better than this folks.
I know that Tyler Wilson and Mike Glennon can make some of these throws too. Obviously, they're top prospects as well with big-time arms. But I have yet to see either of those guys show me the array of throws that Geno Smith has shown and which were displayed in these clips. The ability to make every throw needed has been what's allowed Geno Smith to complete 71 percent of his passes this year as a senior. He's thrown 96 touchdowns in his career to just 21 interceptions so he takes care of the ball as well.
There were games that Smith didn't play up to the same standard that he had in others this season. The Kansas State and Texas Tech games come to mind. Even with those games, the entire package and body of work is still more than enough to warrant the No. 1 pick.
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As I wrote previously here on Arrowhead Pride, it's not fair to expect Geno Smith or any QB drafted by the Chiefs to put up the same kind of numbers as a rookie you're seeing from Russell Wilson or RGIII. That's a lot to ask. But the Chiefs would be getting the best overall talent in this draft at QB and a guy that has the ability to make every throw in the NFL.
He's got the mental acuity to play the position at the next level as demonstrated by his work habits in college. He has the physical tools to play the position at an elite level and he has that 'it' factor to be calm in the face of chaos.
It is for these reasons that I think he's the no-brainer, No. 1 overall pick for the Chiefs.