Before I started watching cut-ups of Geno Smith, I had an image in my mind of what kind of quarterback he would be. I had heard about all the amazing things he'd been doing, seen the numbers, read the reports. But I hadn't actually had the opportunity to see him actually throw a pass. Most of the reports I had seen compared him to ex-Baylor and current Washington Redskins quarterback, Robert Griffin III. I can safely say, having watched cut-ups of him against Maryland and Baylor, he is not Robert Griffin III. Nor is he Cam Newton. He's really not that much of a runner from what I saw. The guy that I kept thinking of while watching Smith was Ben Roethlisberger. But we'll come back to that later on.
While he's not RG3 or Newton, Smith is obviously a very good quarterback in his own right. He displays a lot of the tools desired in a franchise signal-caller. One of those tools is accuracy. The first stat that jumps off the paper when you look at it is his accuracy. He's currently averaging 75.3% completion rate, but before this past weekend's loss to Texas Tech, he was in the low 80's range. While those statistics are somewhat inflated due to the number of screens and short passes within five yards that are thrown in this offense, he's still an accurate quarterback.
Part of what makes him so accurate is his anticipation. Take a look at this play.
Smith knew that his receiver was cutting in on the post across the face of the defender into open field. He has the confidence to put that ball out there and trust that his receiver will go and get it.
Smith locates the ball a little out in front of the receiver, forcing him to stretch out and dive for the play. That's a pass that only his receiver could make a play on. The covering defender had no angle to make a play on the ball; and because the receiver has to reach out for the ball, the defender can only get to the ball by going through the receiver and causing interference. Geno is right on the money there.
We also saw an ability to take a little something off of his throws when he needed to.
West Virginia have Baylor backed up in their own red zone. They call for a fade at the top of the picture,
Smith once again puts the ball where only his receiver can get it. He lofts it over the outstretched arms of the defensive back and hits his receiver at the back pylon of the end zone. The timing and accuracy of the throw are perfect, allowing his receiver to secure the football and get both feet down in-bounds.
But don't think Smith is just a touch passer. He can gun one deep when the time calls for it.
Smith throws the ball from his own 42 yard line.
About 45 yards downfield, the receiver runs under the ball and catches it in stride. Smith made the pass look effortless while putting the perfect amount of air under it to allow his receiver to run under it in stride. The defensive back can't do anything about the throw, it's too good.
The only problem I had with his accuracy over the two games I watched, was that Smith attempted to fit the ball into windows that weren't really there. It wasn't a frequent occurrence but it felt like from time to time, he'd back his accuracy a bit too much and often it wasn't needed.
You can see that Smith has plenty of time in the pocket.
And yet, Smith tries to fit a ball to a receiver that is bracketed by a corner and safety. The ball hits the corner in the back, but Smith is lucky the corner wasn't watching the pass because it could have been an interception. There was no need to throw that ball, Smith had all the time in the world with the pocket he was given. Smith can't afford to try and force the issue in the NFL, where that ball would probably have been picked.
Now I mentioned earlier that Smith isn't RG3 or Cam Newton, but reminded me more of Ben Roethlisberger. In these two games that I saw, Smith rarely scrambled or ran a quarterback keeper unless he had to. His obvious preference was to stand in the pocket and use his elusiveness to create more time in the pocket and extend plays. Just like we see Big Ben do every Sunday for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The defense gets a free rusher onto Smith here. But Geno saw him coming early and forced the tackle attempt to come from a bad angle. The defenders hands are around Smith's head height, allowing Smith to evade his grasp and slip out to the side.
All the defender can do is latch on to Geno's helmet as his momentum takes him past Smith.
With his helmet ripped off, Smith makes a wise decision to live and fight another day. He throws the ball away out the back of the end zone before he takes another hit.
That kind of ability to elude tackles is something quite rare in quarterbacks. We've seen guys like Big Ben with players hanging off of him as he breaks free and gets a throw off, but there just isn't many guys around that can do it.
Here's another example of him avoiding a rush, but staying in the pocket to keep the play alive.
Geno spot's the rusher coming free and steps up in the pocket.
He wisely tucks the ball to keep it protected from the outstretched arm of the rusher.
Smith finds his way to a gap in the pocket, keeping his eyes downfield. He manages to get off an accurate throw, even at such an awkward angle, at the last second before another rusher gets a hit on him. The ball was eventually dropped by the receiver, but it was definitely catchable.
That about wraps up my thoughts on what I saw from Smith against both Maryland and Baylor. I still think it's too early for me to call him a top five or top ten pick. From what I've seen, he definitely has first round potential, but until I have a chance to evaluate the other quarterbacks and players in this class, I wouldn't want to call anyone a top five pick.
What do you think about Geno Smith? Is he the next number one overall pick, or is he overrated. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.