He's not Andrew Luck and he's not Robert Griffin III. That much has been well documented. But West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith is still a top-ten prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft. At least, that appears to be the consensus forming as draft rankings are being finalized.
Despite drawing criticism for being an imperfect prospect, Smith has cracked the top-ten of more and more rankings leading up to April's draft. Bucky Brooks of NFL Network and Lance Zierlein of the Sideline View are the latest to release rankings featuring Smith as a top-ten prospect.
While Smith checks in at No. 18 on SB Nation's latest big board, he has been featured atop our quarterback rankings since the fall. Anyone who follows the draft knows that quarterbacks tend to get pushed up the boards at this time of year given the high positional value they hold in relation to other prospects.
This year, a case can be made for half of the teams picking in the top ten to be targeting a quarterback with their first pick, making Smith a near lock to be off the board within the first ten picks of the draft.
Smith isn't as complete a prospect as Luck or Griffin a year ago. His arm strength doesn't jump off the screen, but it gets the job done. His anticipation skills aren't all there, but they have improved in each season at West Virginia. And while he has trouble with his footwork at times, that has proven to be a correctable issue with NFL coaching.
What you can't coach is Smith's work ethic, feel for the pass rush and ability to keep his eyes down field while moving around the pocket. He's a passionate leader and a film junkie that would change the culture of the huddle for whatever team chooses to draft him.
Some will look at the rankings updates and chalk it up to an overreaction to Smith's great pro day. When he lands in the top ten, some will call it a reach by a team desperate to find a quarterback. But the reality is Smith is the best quarterback prospect in a class that has a lot of question marks at the position. He has the makings of a franchise quarterback, so a team will have to overcome the fear of drafting an imperfect prospect. Luck and RG3 don't come around every year, and if you keep waiting for the perfect prospect, you wind up back in the top ten sooner rather than later.