The last few NFL drafts have spoiled us when it comes to the most important position in all of football, the quarterback.
Starting with Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco in the first round of 2008, we’ve seen a whole slew of star quarterbacks come through the draft in the four years since. We’ve seen freakish athletes like Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III, cool-under-pressure guys like Sam Bradford, Ryan, Flacco and Andrew Luck, a gun-slinger in Matthew Stafford, and even Tim Tebow.
Altogether, if you were to make a list of top ten quarterbacks in the game today, four or five might have been drafted since 2008 — which is why West Virginia‘s Geno Smith is feeling the heat in 2013.
Projected to be the first quarterback off the board this April, Smith will forever find himself compared to the superstars of draft’s past. At least 29 teams were present at his Pro Day a little more than a week ago, all of them scouts chomping at the bit to dissect and analyze every last bit of the 6-foot-3, 208-pound quarterback in hopes of finding the ever elusive answer to any draft’s biggest question.
Will he prosper or flop?
There’s no clear answer when it comes to Smith in 2013. On paper, he seems to be from the same mold as Griffin III and Newton, possessing a tall and athletic frame with good speed, although his 4.78 40 yard dash time is a good amount slower than those two.
Off the paper, his arm strength and accuracy are suspect, and even though many reports are that he impressed in that area during his Pro Day, fading memories of the failed Tebow experiment may turn some teams away. Beyond that, scouts are worried about his mental toughness as well.
Overall, Smith seems to me like a blend between Griffin III and a guy like Ryan or Flacco. He’s got freakish athleticism, but whether or not he has a good enough arm is still up in the air. There’s potential, but there’s downside, too.
He’s a sure-fire first round pick with teams like the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills desperately needing a quarterback. Many mock drafts even have him going fourth overall to the Philadelphia Eagles. He could flourish under Chip Kelly‘s system, but I see him dropping to the Bills at eight spot, where he could join C.J. Spiller in a suddenly explosive backfield.
Only time will tell.