1 – Matt Barkley is the prize from this quarterback class, how can Geno Smith jump him after just four games? Answer – Scouts were wrong. It happens frequently, but it usually takes more information to sway such a strong, preseason consensus opinion. Based on what Smith has done on the field, he has already done enough to be the No. 1 prospect entering the 2013 class.
2 – He’s played some of the weaker defenses in the NCAA like Marshall, Maryland and Baylor – how can he possibly have jumped Barkley given that (awful) competition? Answer – 20 touchdowns, no interceptions, 82 percent completion percentage, picks apart the defense pre-snap and after it, pocket presence, great arm, quick release, decisive decision making, near perfect accuracy on a number of different NFL caliber throws (hitting his receivers in stride, more than 15 yards down the field, posts, fly routes, deep corners, deep outs – you name it, he hit it)…is that enough? I could go on, but there’s more to touch on with this character.
3 – So how would he do if he got matched up with an elite defense? Answer – Queue up the LSU game from 2011, the one in which he was the best player on the field by leaps and bounds – then double it. This was a very simple offense last year as everything was all new for this team. Another year and lots of hard work in the offseason, and that simple high-tempo offense has added a lot of wrinkles that have absolutely dismantled the competition to open the season. It will continue; this offense isn’t led by a prima donna quarterback. After last week’s record-breaking performance, what was the first thing Smith did? Hit the film room to see what went wrong. What went wrong?! Seriously!? Coach Dana Holgorsen had a similar response – “He expects perfection – and in the game of football, perfection is impossible,” Holgorsen said. If there is a negative about his game that’s probably it, but that’s not a bad red mark to carry with you.
4 – OK, well all of this is great and all, but why didn’t we hear about him before this season? Answer – He was talked about, just not nearly as much as he should have been. Outstanding touchdown/interception ratio, great completion percentage, improved as 2011 season went on, peaked in the Bowl game in a masterful performance against Clemson, played well against stout defenses like LSU. The recipe was there, but because he was at West Virginia instead of a football factory like USC he did not get the attention he deserved.
5 – So, are you saying he is the No. 1 pick next year? Yes. The only thing that will hold him back now is himself. Can he handle the spotlight? Will his quest for perfection eventually crush him? That’s it. He has everything – upstairs, physically, functionally – everything. He won’t run as much as Robert Griffin III, but he can if he needs to. That’s a trait that will be developed as he operates against better and better pass rushes.
See what Robert Griffin III is doing to the NFL this year? Wherever Geno Smith ends up next year it will be more of the same. There will be more gushing of Smith from me later, probably a lot more. Special talent.