Geno Smith QB West Virginia #12
Size/Athleticism: Prototypical height. Slightly on the skinny side, but has shown he can take some hits. Can pick up some yardage with his feet when he’s flushed from the pocket. He’s nowhere near being in the same class as RG3 or Russell Wilson, but he compares favorably to Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck in his running ability. Needs to translate that athleticism to movement in the pocket, however. When he’s in the pocket, he’s a statue. He needs to learn the footwork necessary to move within the pocket, rather than allowing himself to be flushed out at the first sign of pressure.
Arm strength/Accuracy: Slightly above-average arm strength. He can make all the common throws and can also launch some deep balls down the field. Accuracy is solid up to 10 yards, but begins to get shaky beyond that. West Virginia’s offense relied heavily on short passes, including an inordinate amount of screens to the running backs and receivers. The majority of Smith’s deeper throws were on curls and comebacks, which require arm strength but only a limited skill in timing and anticipation. When Smith is asked to make more difficult timing throws (posts, corners routes, etc) he struggles. Smith has difficulty anticipating when a receiver is about to break free; he appears to only see what is in front of him. As a result, he often throws to an open receiver, but the window closes by the time the ball is arriving. West Virginia’s offense compensated for Smith’s weaknesses by featuring a significant percentage of shorter routes. Of the 141 attempts I charted, 70 percent of Smith’s attempts were within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. While Smith does struggle with most deep routes, he has shown the ability to throw the deep go route with relative consistency.
Footwork/Release: There are no issues with Smith’s mechanics. Even when he’s on the run, he displays relatively consistent mechanics and footwork. He could, however, improve his footwork within the pocket. He doesn’t operate well within the tight space of a closing pocket, and prefers to roll out, which usually leads to him tucking the ball and running. He needs to develop the footwork to make the minor movements in the pocket to create just enough space for him to complete the throw.
Decision making: As previously mentioned, Smith struggles to see the play develop. He needs to learn how to see where his receiver and the defender will be in two steps, rather than simply analyzing where they are right now. The majority of his interceptions and deflected passes came when he threw to an open receiver who was no longer open by the time the ball arrived. Smith also needs to develop the ability to see the entire field. When Smith drops back to look either left or right and rarely turns to see the other side of the field. Smith usually has a primary target down the field, and a check-down option. He throws to one of these two receivers before ever looking across the field on the overwhelming majority of his throws.
Intangibles: Smith is well liked by teammates and coaches. He appears to remain poised throughout the game and doesn’t show a lot of emotion on the field.
Durability: No significant issues of note. Did not miss any action in two years as the starter.
Comments: Smith clearly has the raw skills needed to play at the next level, but his football intelligence is lacking at this stage of his career. He has the arm strength and his accuracy is acceptable, but his decision making is worrisome. However, it’s difficult to know how much of this is because he simply struggles with that aspect of the game or because West Virginia’s coaching staff did not give him the opportunities he needed to develop those skills. Of the games I charted for Smith, 26 percent of his attempts were at or behind the line of scrimmage – that’s a quarter of his throws that tell us absolutely nothing about his ability. The lack of awareness on the field is enough for me to definitely say Smith is not worthy of a first-round pick, however, I do think he has what it takes to potentially develop into an above average starter. Teams will need to grill him during the interview process in order to determine just how likely it is that he will be able to develop the mental part of his game fast enough to contribute in the NFL.