Former West Virginia quarterback and potential number one overall pick Geno Smith is visiting the Kansas City Chiefs today.
There has been much speculation about what the Chiefs will do with the first overall pick, including the possibility of trading it, so whoever the Chiefs meet with is being watched closely around the NFL. Smith, widely considered to be the drafts best quarterback, would be an obvious choice for Kansas City to consider. The problem is Smith is not the caliber of quarterback previous drafts have seen. At least not in the eyes of scouts.
Pro Football Weekly ran this report about Smith yesterday. A quick excerpt:
“A cross between Akili Smith and Aaron Brooks, Smith is a gimmick, overhyped product of the system lacking the football savvy, work habits and focus to cement a starting job and could drain energy from a QB room.”
Well that seems positive.
The Chiefs are in need for a long term answer at quarterback even after trading for former San Francisco 49ers Alex Smith earlier in the offseason. While Smith is a strong upgrade at the position for Kansas City, they still could get better and are in need of a “franchise” type of player. While the review of Smith isn’t exactly glowing, it is a bit over the top. Smith has the tools to be successful in the NFL if he can get the coach he desperately needs – something Andy Reid is known for providing.
The biggest problem for Smith as it relates to the NFL is the system he was in at West Virginia. His tools in many ways are unquestioned. Even with the scathing report from Pro Football Weekly they did note how strong his arm strength was and his ability to be accurate with deep ball and while on the run. He’s durable, experienced, and a very good athlete. But he’s not translating well to the NFL because the spread offense run at West Virginia was very grooved and somewhat gimmicky.
Smith wasn’t asked to make a lot of reads or change plays at the line. A lot of what he did was to use his arm to make deep throws to receivers who were generally faster than any other defensive back in college. Tavon Austin, potentially the first wide receiver to be taken in the draft, and Stedman Bailey, likely a second or third round pick in the draft, were almost always open because of their talent and speed. This, maybe unfairly, lowers Smith’s value in many scout’s eyes.
Many also point out West Virginia’s six losses in their final eight games as a knock on Smith. In West Virginia’s final eight games, the offense produced 14, 14, 38, 34, 49, 31, 59, 14 points respectively. For the most part, the Mountaineers were not losing games because they could not score but because they could not prevent opponents from scoring. In the three games WVU could only produce 14 points – at Texas Tech, Kansas State, vs. Syracuse – defenses disguised their looks and sent heavy pressure to rush decisions. But even in those four game, Smith threw four touchdowns to just two interceptions (both against K-State) and completed 62-percent of his passes. Again, good coaching and time to develop could solve the decision-making problem. These are both things the Chiefs at their disposal.
It wouldn’t be stunning if the Chiefs selected Smith with the overall number one pick.
What may be more likely is the Chiefs are doing their due diligence on the perceived best quarterback in the draft while simultaneously increasing the value of their number one overall pick to trade away. Kansas City technically lacks a second overall pick, and wouldn’t draft again until pick number 63 should they be unable to trade Brandon Albert or their first round picks for more draft selections. The higher they can raise Smith’s value, the more a team like Oakland, Philadelphia, or Buffalo will have to pay the Chiefs in a trade. Kansas City would still end up with a very high first round pick but they would also have added more picks in the top 100 selections.