It’s inevitable in any NFL Draft; a player is going to drop far from where he was expected to be taken, and the questions will begin to crop up as to why. But in the case of West Virginia QB Geno Smith, there are two directions this conversation is headed, and neither one really makes a lot of sense.
First, many analysts seem surprised that Smith wasn’t taken in the middle to the end of the first round. Honestly, it’s not surprising at all. Smith is a talented quarterback, yes, but I never saw him as a first rounder at all. His stats are somewhat inflated by the offense that was run at WVU.
In many cases, Smith would simply flip or shovel pass the ball to a receiver running an end-around or coming across the front of the line. The flip would account for maybe two yards, and then the receiver would break tackles and gain huge yardage. This wasn’t isolated, it was something that was a fairly regular part of the playbook for the Mountaineers.
Smith also has some real fundamental issues. He’s not good at reading coverages or running through his progressions, he’s got problems with his throwing mechanics, and he’s very spotty with his accuracy. He’s got good speed, and is a QB that can definitely make plays happen, but he’s still not an NFL-ready QB.
All of that points to Smith being exactly the type of QB that should be taken in the second or maybe even third round depending on the teams that have a need for a QB that haven’t already found one. It’s not a reason to dismiss Smith at all, but to just wait before you take a risk picking him early on in the draft.
That said, Smith has never been an on or off-field problem. His character has never been questioned, nor has he shown any huge flaws in his leadership abilities. So for analysts to say that his initial plan of not returning to New York to sit in the Green Room for the second round shows a character issue is absolutely ludicrous, and shows the type of narrow MTV type thinking that goes on in many of the talking heads around the country.
The Green Room is the most Made-for-TV and unimportant part of the NFL Draft there is. It’s something that ESPN and the television suits created to add a little drama to the backdrop of the draft. Yeah, lets take kids who are already dealing with the most intense night of their young lives, and just turn up the heat a little bit. Good plan.
Smith has since changed his mind, and is planning to attend the “festivities” tonight, but that is no doubt in response to the criticism he received by first saying he wouldn’t be there. If an NFL team was going to shy away from Smith simply because he didn’t want to be further embarrassed (as he was last night, so shame on Roger Goodell for not pulling him into a private room as he has with other players in the past), that team needs a new scouting department.
It’s time the volume was turned down on the NFL Draft spectacle, and that more respect and privacy is given to these young players. The Green Room should just be done away with, and it should be an option for a player whether or not they want to attend and possibly be on camera when there name is (or isn’t) called.
Smith is a hard working kid, that given time, will be a solid quarterback for whichever team decides to take him. His inclusion or omission from the television broadcast should be his own choice, and shouldn’t be a part of the conversation as to his draft status at all.
If anything, the way Smith handled himself with such poise last night when being passed over time and again, should be a sign to teams that he’s got stronger character than most.