There’s a lot of buzz around Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech) right now, as someone who could make that leap as a passer this season, and challenge established first round picks like Tyler Wilson and Matt Barkley for the top spot, but after looking at the tape, I think Geno Smith is better poised to vault up draft boards come April.
Size: At 6’3″ Smith has the requisite height for a prototypical quarterback in the NFL, his 214 pound frame, however, leaves something to be desired. Smith will need to put on weight and “thicken up” for the repeated hits he’ll take at the NFL level. His frame suggests he could add ten pounds, and I’d be highly surprised if he doesn’t by the time the combine rolls around.
Arm Strength: On tape, you notice the arm strength on Smith right away. He has a compact release, yet still gets the ball out with sizzle. He can make all throw on the route tree, including the vaunted “deep out.” He displays above average velocity on his short and intermediate throws, and has no problems driving the ball in the deep game. He exhibits “plus” arm strength when throwing on the move.
Accuracy: Smith does extremely well in the short and intermediate game, placing the ball where only his receiver has a chance to make a play on it. He displays appropriate velocity and touch, and attempts to hit his receiver in stride, allowing for greater yards after the catch. He displays excellent placement on back shoulder throws, putting the ball where only his receiver can get it. Smith spins a clean catchable football, with a tight rotation. His deep ball leaves a bit to be desired, but this was often masked by the superior athleticism of his wide receivers.
Mechanics: Smith exhibits natural bend at the knees and balance with his footwork in the pocket, is consistently in an effective throwing position. He possesses an impressive feel in the pocket, subtly moves away from pressure, keeps eye level down the field and isn’t afraid to take a shot after letting go of the football. His short, compact release allows him to get the ball out much quicker which will be huge at the next level.
Athleticism: Smith is a very good athlete, and can hurt you with his legs on the move. He takes good care of the football and knows when to take off. He is natural & coordinated on the move, throws accurately off the boot play-action game, and generates good torque from the hips, consistently squaring his shoulders toward his target. He shows great ability to reset after contact, and find his man down field. Smith can pick up extra yardage with his feet, and will have to be accounted for at the next level.
Pre/Post snap Reads: Smith goes through his progressions very well, and can work his way quickly across the field and back to his check down man if need be, really does know where everyone is throughout his progression. He displays natural timing and knows when the football needs to come out and rarely is late, even when throwing to secondary and tertiary targets. Smith doesn’t seem to have any trouble diagnosing pressure, and using his athleticism to buy time for his receivers to get open.
Pocket Poise: Smith looks very comfortable in the pocket. He has a natural slide step he uses to avoid pressure. He keeps his eye level up and downfield, doesn’t drop and look to take off early. He will stand in the pocket and take a hit.
Intangibles: Smith seems to have all the intangibles you look for in franchise quarterback. To me he leaped off the tape in nearly every facet of the game. His deep ball could use better touch and accuracy, and I’d like to see him not throw high over the middle unnecessarily, as he seemed to do against LSU (2011). He is something of a rhythm passer.
Character: No evaluation on Smith’s character available at this time.
Overall: I came in looking at the tape thinking I’d be scouting a second tier quarterback with upside, but came away with the second highest grade I’ve given to the draft eligible quarterbacks thus far (Tyler Wilson of Arkansas). Smith exhibits all of the tools needed to be successful at the next level, and in my opinion is a franchise quarterback prospect. I have an early first round grade on him, and if he continues to play at the level he has, would have no problem spending a top 15 pick on him.