Published March 01, 2013
| Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA – Some say it's better to be lucky than good.
Being both is even better and Geno Smith is about to prove that on April 25 in New York.
The West Virginia product isn't Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. Heck, he might not even have Russell Wilson's ceiling as a player. Smith is, however, the best quarterback available in the 2013 NFL Draft and was by far the most impressive signal-caller among the 14 who threw at the scouting combine last Sunday.
"Those guys changed expectations for many quarterbacks let alone rookies," Smith said when talking about last year's draft class. "Those guys stepped right in, including Russell (Wilson) and were leaders most of all from day one.
"And that's the one thing I took from it. They set the bar very high. I want to be one of those guys that step in and do the same thing."
To his detractors in Indianapolis, Smith didn't stand out like a top-10 pick.
"I'm a big believer in value," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said last week when discussing the quarterbacks available in the 2013 draft. "If you have a top-10 pick, you want an All-Pro at some point. If you look at Geno Smith, he could be a top-10 pick in some people's eyes. Now for me, he and Matt Barkley to me are more like 20 to 32. That's where I feel more comfortable."
Beauty, however, is in the eye of the beholder and Smith's movement skills along with his natural throwing ability are significant.
If prospects like Luck or RG3 were available this time around, perhaps Mayock would be on the money and Smith would fall until the end of the first round. But, timing is everything in life, and Smith did more than enough in Indy to secure his spot as a top-10 selection.
Kansas City and the No. 1 overall pick was always an overreach, one that was officially taken off the table on Wednesday when the Chiefs reportedly made a deal with San Francisco to acquire Alex Smith.
Geno Smith isn't a Luck-like no-brainer-type of prospect and Andy Reid wasn't about to ruin his honeymoon in K.C. by throwing out his back reaching for a player who's not in the top five on most draft boards. Trading for Alex Smith and taking Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel is still the more prudent path for the Chiefs.
That said, when you have two quarterback-needy teams, Arizona and Buffalo, sitting with back-to back selections at seven and eight, respectively, it becomes a fait accompli that Smith will not be there at No. 9.
Heck, you also can never rule out Oakland pulling a surprise, either. If the Raiders, who pick third, can't work out a restructured deal with Carson Palmer, it's entirely possible they don't want to hitch their wagon to the unproven Terrelle Pryor, putting Smith in play in the Bay Area.
The gamesmanship has already begun with multiple reports saying that the Cardinals have fallen for Barkley, the Southern California signal-caller, who impressed during his media availability in Indy but wasn't able to throw at the combine due to a shoulder injury which ended his Trojans career.
It's tough to imagine the Cards going Barkley over Smith, though, so the public flirting is likely an attempt to stop the Bills or another team like the New York Jets from making a deal to leapfrog past Arizona.
Smith impressed at the combine with a 4.59-second 40-yard dash, speed which is very similar to what Wilson and the 49ers' Colin Kaepernick flashed when they came out of college. While the arm strength wasn't eye-popping, Smith showed nice touch and more than enough giddy-up to make all the throws.
His versatility might be his most impressive on-field trait and is en vogue around the NFL right now.
"I played in three different systems in college," Smith said. "I've also played in the read-option system. I had to adapt. I think that's something I've always been capable of. I think I have the skill set that fits any offense."
Perhaps the biggest check mark in Smith's favor, however, is the fact he loves the game and projects as the type of kid who will embrace the work needed to be a top-tier NFL signal-caller, the type of intangible which can't be taught or measured.
"I'm dedicated to the game, I have a zeal and a passion for the game," Smith said. "And I'm going to work extremely hard to hone in on my skills and be the best I can be from day one."
Like most young quarterbacks Smith struggles with accuracy at times and that needs to be addressed moving forward.
"I have a number of things I need to improve on," Geno said when addressing the flaws in his game. "I work extremely hard to better myself as a whole and every single aspect of my game is improving day by day."
The fact West Virginia dropped five consecutive games at one point last season is also a concern.
"Inconsistency set in. I'm not going to say that anyone wasn't working hard," Smith said of the Mountaineers' slump. "When we went through that tough stretch, I was the first one to stand up in front of the team and let them know, we're going to work even harder and we're not going to put our heads down."
So where does Smith stand?
Some analysts think he's worthy of the No. 1 overall pick, and others think he should be a second-rounder. Smith himself hasn't let any of the negative reviews seep into his psyche and is champing at the bit for his chance.
"I can't expect to prove any of those people wrong without even playing a down in the NFL," Smith said. "My only expectation is to become as polished as I possibly can when I enter into the NFL and compete and be a competitor. That's all I know how to do."