At the conclusion of the NCAA Football season, many experts had quarterback Geno Smith slotted as the number one overall pick in the NFL draft. Now that the Kansas City Chiefs have Alex Smith under center, more experts are projecting Smith to fall out of the first round than remain a top-five pick. Smith showed that he could sling it at the collegiate level but does he have what it takes to be a star NFL quarterback and a top fantasy football player?
In reality, nothing about Smith’s game on the field has changed since his bowl game loss to Syracuse back in December. In the months leading up to the draft, scouts meticulously analyze every detail of each potential draft pick. They watch prospects perform on pro days with no pads and run drills that have no direct correlation to what they can accomplish on Sunday’s.
Collegiate success and who it came against is the best indication of how a player will translate to the next level. The top quarterbacks taken in the previous four drafts were Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford. In comparison, Smith ranks fourth out of five in career quarterback rating but second in completion percentage. A possible red flag is that Smith’s success came against the 37th toughest schedule whereas Luck and Newton both showcased their skills against schedules that ranked top five in difficultly.
It seems that Smith may fit the statistical standard of a top college quarterback but how did he look on the field? Scouts love Smith for his arm strength but in his senior season he threw just 11.69% of his passes over 20 yards compared to 14.18% for the average quarterback. That can mainly be attributed to the dynamic play of receiver Tavon Austin but you want to see a quarterback with Smith’s arm strength show confidence throwing the deep ball.
His best quality may actually be his poise in the pocket. Smith completed over 70% of his passes when defenses sent five or more pass rushers and completed passes at a 10% higher rate than the average QB on throws under duress.
The biggest concern that teams have with Smith is the mystery as to how he will translate into a pro-style offense. Smith took 96% of his snaps from a shotgun or pistol formation whereas nearly half of the snaps taken by NFL quarterbacks came under center.
Smith deserves to be the first quarterback selected but it comes in a draft where the talent at the position is extremely thin. His numbers and his tendencies on the field don’t warrant the number one overall selection and that was reinforced when Kansas City opted to trade for a quarterback. Due to the demand for quarterbacks in the NFL, he will be a top-10 pick. Smith could enjoy a successful NFL career but he is far from a sure thing.