Much focus has been put on the top quarterback prospects, but one of the less talked about high-ceiling talents is Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith. Smith is coming out of college a year early, a move that many experts are calling a mistake, but just because the skinny gunslinger will be a late-round pick doesn’t mean he lacks the tools to be a franchise cornerstone.
Smith compares to fellow quarterback prospect Johnny Manziel as both are great athletes who can make plays with their legs, and although Manziel’s escapability in the pocket is better, Smith is clearly more comfortable standing in a crowded pocket and making a throw.
In the situations where Manziel tries to scramble, Smith will often stand tall in the pocket and step up to make the throw. His straight line speed is comparable to that of Manziel’s, but it’s clear Smith has the mindset of a pocket-passing quarterback who scrambles only when necessary.
Smith does has the arm talent to succeed in the NFL, and with a 6-foot-3, frame he won’t have to deal with the same height concerns as Manziel. He’s a bit on the skinny side weighing in at 208 pounds, but with his pass-first mentality, he doesn’t put himself in the way of harm all that often. Many view him as the poor man’s version of Manziel, but Smith may have more raw skills than the former Texas A&M signal caller.
Smith’s arm strength is at least as strong as Manziel’s, if not stronger, but he does outshine the flamboyant Manziel when it comes to decision making with the football. Smith threw just 28 interceptions during his three-year college career, but was also able to tally 79 touchdowns and 8,829 passing yards in that same time. None of his stats jump off the page, but you’re able to see how comfortable he is in the pocket on tape, and how high his football IQ really is.
He may be the product of a system at Wyoming that is similar to that of the Oregon Ducks, but Smith has all the physical tools to succeed at the NFL level and may actually end up being a better quarterback than Manziel. They’re very comparable prospects, but Smith is clearly more comfortable in the pocket and made the right move coming out of college this season.
What makes him such a great developmental quarterback is that he has the mindset to be a pocket-passing quarterback, but has the speed to be a constant threat running the ball as well. He wasn’t invited to the combine, but he ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at his pro day, the fastest time recorded for any quarterback in this class.
Combining his elite-level athleticism with his already impressive arm strength and average accuracy should make him an intriguing prospect for many teams. Improving his ball placement will be top priority when he joins an NFL team, but once he does that, he’s a player who would be a perfect fit for a team like the Philadelphia Eagles.
He won’t be a Day 1 selection, but with high upside at a crucial position, Smith could be selected as early as the third round in the 2014 NFL draft.