Geno Smith’s Turbulent Draft Journey

Geno Smith’s draft stock fluctuation has been a fascinating story. Unless you’re Geno Smith. Not even the storied free falls of Brady Quinn and Aaron Rodgers could be characterized by such temperamental change leading up to the draft. In February, Smith was garnering attention as the top pick. Meanwhile, just hours from the draft, some do not even project Smith as a first round pick. Prospects, specifically quarterbacks, are prone to having their draft stock waver in the months leading up to the draft. However, what makes Smith’s case particularly intriguing is the constant roller coaster ride his draft position has been on the whole time.

Nobody has seemed to confidentially pinpoint even a range where Smith could go off the board. Initially, back when the NFL season ended, the Chiefs were widely regarded as a landing spot partly because conventional wisdom says the best quarterback has to go first. Not so fast. In the weeks following the NFL season, Smith’s game was methodically picked apart. He holds onto the ball for too long. He’s mobile but not fast enough to play in the NFL’s version of the spread offense. He’s too frail for the position. Ultimately, after the Chiefs made a move for Alex Smith, the Mountaineer appeared poised to either come off the board at eight to Buffalo, or face a drop similar to that of Quinn or Rodgers.

With Smith’s draft stock on the brink of free falling, there were forces propelling Smith back up draft boards. Reports surfaced that all the major decision makers for the Philadelphia Eagles made a visit to Morgantown to see Smith. There were stories about the Jacksonville Jaguars doing the same. If not the Jaguars at two, the Eagles at four would snag the best signal caller in the draft. Before long, Buffalo would again be fortunate to have Smith drop to them. Just two weeks ago there were reputable mock drafts projecting Smith to the Jaguars at two. Now Smith does not even crack the first round of our mock draft, and we certainly aren’t alone in this thinking.

I’ve been covering the draft extensively since before 2006, though admittedly our coverage has fallen off the past couple of years. I cannot recall a prospect as polarizing as Geno Smith in terms of where he is projected to be picked. Aaron Rodgers and Brady Quinn come to mind as two quarterbacks who dropped in the draft. Nonetheless, unlike Geno, each player was consistently projected to go in the top 10. Smith has been the favorite to be a top four pick at two separate stages in the draft process, separated by a period in which he was barely hanging in the top ten. Over the past two weeks, Geno Smith has almost simultaneously been projected as a top 2 pick and a second round pick.

In the end, Smith is only talented enough to go in the teens, but happens to play the most important position in football. Teams at the top of the draft are inherently faced with the dilemma of reaching for player because he is a quarterback. Additionally, teams drafting in the second half of the first round are drafting there for a reason. These teams usually have an established quarterback. As evident by Smith’s rise and fall (and rise and fall), experts still don’t know how this will pan out. A team will probably jump from the second round into the late first round on Thursday to take Smith. Only time will tell if we will look back on this draft and wonder how team X can pass on Smith. One thing is for sure, Smith’s draft stock epitomizes the inexact science that is the NFL draft.

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