Scouting Report- Geno Smith

Posted: February 12, 2013 in 2013 NFL Draft, Views and opinions

Geno Smith, West Virginia


 Scouting Report

Position: Quarterback

Class: Senior

Size: 6’3 214 lbs.

Physical Attributes: Smith has great height and sufficient weight to hold up to NFL hits. He could add strength to his frame and not lose any of his agility. He has very long arms and uses that to his advantage with his high release point. Smith is skinny but not to the point of being hurt easily, he has held up well to hits all season long.

Arm Talent: One misconception of the West Virginia offense was that it was all screens, bubbles, and other short routes to his play makers. That is not the case, and Smith showed that on many occasions as he throws one of the best deep balls of any QB in the draft. He can hit fast receivers in stride down field with ease and barely change his motion. He throws with a 3/4 motion instead of right over the top, but he has a high release. Smith has a pretty strong arm on the intermediate throws, sometimes too strong and he will need to learn when to take off some and put it on the receiver.  Above average NFL arm right now.

Route Throwing Inventory: Smith can make all the throws over 20 yards and fewer than 10 with exceptional skill and ease. He can throw the back shoulder fade and the slot receiver seam to split Cover 2 defenders. What I saw the most struggles with were his intermediate throws, specifically the 12 to 15 yard deep outs and curls that NFL teams tend to lean on in “1st Down Converting” times. He would rush his footwork and sail the ball on many of the deep out throws I saw him make. Has moments where he is average in getting the ball to the spot on time, but there were instances when receivers had to wait on the ball to get to them, and that is an interception in a lot of cases in the NFL. Struggles throwing opposite hash out routes, which a lot of people will, but needs work to covert arm strength that he already has to be able to make these throws on a consistent basis. Smith, right now, has a large bag of throws in his arsenal but needs work on some of the timing routes and deep outs.

Touch/Release: Smith has the prettiest deep ball in the draft, which I have studied on a consistent basis. Others can throw harder and farther, but Smith has such great trajectory and spiral on his fades and deep throws. Smith has a great release, very tight and quick on his motions. He can get the ball out fast and with velocity. Smith will struggle at times with dropping his elbow to make the deeper throws, but for the most part was coached very well by Jake Spavital at West Virginia on proper mechanics.

Footwork: Here is where I am not as sold on Smith, and it is not because he was in the shotgun for 90% of his reps. Smith is lazy at times with his feet. He will throw fading back and off his back foot more than you would like. When he does this, the ball will sail on him and a few times resulted in interceptions. He at times will not point his front foot to the direction he is throwing, causing the ball to either be in front or behind the defender, again leading to possible interceptions. There are certain times where he will have his feet set in stone and cannot escape the pass rush in time, possibly from not being able to make a throwing decision quickly enough. One positive, he WILL NOT have the so called “system QB” label from me and a lot of other people, he can take drops from under center and he is not shotgun specific by any means.

Competitiveness/Leadership: You want to see your QB subdued and level headed on the field and Smith seems to portray that very well. He is a gamer and doesn’t mind putting the team on his back when the game is on the line. Smith had 5 close games in the final minutes of the 4th quarter on five different occasions, winning three of those contests (vs. Baylor, Texas, and Iowa State). Smith was put in some bad spots by a very poor defense and never seemed to show the emotions that all West Virginia fans were feeling when they would give up 50 points a week. Hard worker on the field and always is trying to lead the team to victory.

Vision/Instincts: One of the things that are on my “buyers beware” list with Smith is that he wasn’t asked to check hardly any plays at the line of scrimmage. In the 8 films I watched on him he rarely changed the play pre snap. That is not a huge issue in the fact that it can’t be taught, it is just something that coaching staffs will have to be comfortable enough to think Smith can make that transition. One thing you have to give Smith is that he sees the whole field when he is in his route progressions. He had great skill players, but he made everyone on his team better by being able to manipulate defenders with his eyes and get the ball into a tight window. He will need work on his site adjustments  but he inst far off and certainly not just a player who relies on athletic ability over smarts.

Pocket Awareness: This is one area where Smith really excels at right now, in most areas. Smith can see blitz coming and make a good solid judgment on when to throw away, take the sack, or try to tuck and run. If you watch the film you will see a guy who can extend plays with his footwork in the pocket and who can get out of danger with his feet. I have one knock on him right now and that is he has trouble avoiding and seeing the A gap to A gap blitzes. I feel he has a terrible time trying to escape from middle pressure. However, he stands tall in the pocket and is a thrower first, not a runner. Smith would rather gun the ball down field 60 yards then just run around to get out of danger.

Athleticism: The misconception on Smith is that he is just a running quarterback because when you look at him he is so athletic looking. That is far from the truth. Smith is a good athlete, but he isn’t the fastest quarterback in this year’s draft and he won’t blow your mind with his 40 yard dash time. What he does have is the right footwork and instinctual movement skills to avoid danger and capitalize on broken assignments and plays by the defense. Smith is above average as an athlete, but not RGIII or even Andrew Luck’s level from 2012’s draft.

Improvisational Skills: He has some of the better attributes you want in a quarterback as far as taking a broken play and making it better. Smith escapes a lot of edge rushers and free blitzers by simply moving one or two steps out of the way and letting a pass rip down the sideline or the middle of the field. It happened so many times with Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey last year, where Smith was in trouble, eluded rushers, and threw it to the open man down field for a huge play. That’s what NFL teams look for, a guy who can get out and when all else fails, makes a play. He can elongate a broken play better than all the other QB’s in this draft that are at the top of the boards.

Overall Impression: I wanted to really wait to make assumptions on Geno Smith, I didn’t want to rush my opinion on the players and read how everyone else hyped his status or vice versa. What I found by watching all eight films consecutively and in order that they came in the season was very telling and surprising for me. Yes, he is the best QB in a weak draft class. But let’s not forget, it is a weak free agent QB group already in the NFL. With Kansas City, Arizona, Buffalo, Oakland, New York Jets, and the Dallas Cowboys all looking to find some competitors at the QB spot, this is the chance to grab the player with the most upside. I think he is a first round talent in 9 out of 10 drafts; the quarterback position has become just that valuable. I have my doubts that he should start Day 1 or be the first overall pick by Kansas City. However, if you are on the clock and QB is your biggest need than you have to pull the trigger and put you stake in this kid. He is a leader and a hard worker. Smith will not burn out and is not a babied Prima Donna like a Ryan Leaf or JaMarcus Russell. He is a talented player with good upside and can lead a team with his arm and instincts in the pocket.

Projected Draft Status: Top 5 pick

  1. […] 1. Geno Smith, West Virginia- […]

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