Eagles Wake-Up Call: What They’re Saying About Geno Smith

We’ve written about several different draft prospects in this space in the last few weeks.

And the one name that seems to be the most polarizing is Geno Smith.

The West Virginia quarterback is expected to go in the first half of the first round, but opinions vary on whether he has the tools to become a franchise quarterback.

Keeping that in mind, here’s a roundup of what people are saying about Smith.

Let’s start with Greg Cosell of NFL Films, via The Shutdown Corner podcast:

“There’s no question that he has an NFL arm. The ball comes out with good velocity and juice. His short to intermediate throws are very, very good. The one thing that troubles me about Smith, and it’s theoretically coachable, is that he’s primarily a shotgun quarterback, which in and of itself is not an issue. But he has a tendency to bounce on his drops — he does not actually drop. And that must be cleaned up. Because the problem when you do that is you’re not truly ready to throw the ball, and a major difference between college and the NFL is the response time of defensive backs. If you’re not ready to throw, and you wait that extra beat while you get your feet set, you’ll have an issue.”

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock seems to think consistency is Smith’s issue:

“I watched a bunch of Geno Smith and he can make every throw. He’s athletic. The ball jumps out of his hand. But there’s a lot of things that make me nervous about him. He misses people by wide margins for no reason. I see a little bit of hesitancy with the blitz. When that first read is not there, it’s not as pretty on the second or third read. His eyes come down. He makes mistakes.”

Ray Didinger of CSNPhilly.com offers his scouting report:

Smith has excellent size (6-3, 220) and a strong arm — probably the strongest arm of this year’s QB class. He still needs to smooth out his fundamentals, in particular his footwork which is choppy and inconsistent. That affects his accuracy. But because so many teams need a quarterback and because they are in such short supply, I believe Smith, aided by a strong showing at the combine, will be a top-12 pick.

Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel talked to anonymous scouts about Smith:

“He’d be the only (quarterback) I’d consider,” one scout said. “He’s really poised. Really good vision. He’s not one of those system guys who just chucks it to the first guy. He can see the field and read defenses. He’s athletic. He’s gotten a lot better, too, and should get a lot better in the pros.” Another scout compared him to Akili Smith, a draft bust from 1999. “That will end the conversation,” that scout said.

Gil Brandt of NFL.com expects Smith to be able to work through his inconsistencies:

More time will be spent on Smith than on any other player in the 2013 NFL Draft. When I watched him from the sideline during West Virginia’s game against Texas, Smith was quick and on the money, though he did overthrow some long balls. If he enters the league with a Russell Wilson-type work ethic, Smith will be OK.

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com already sees offseason improvement from Smith:

I watched a few more of his games in the last two days, and I was disappointed in his footwork. I didn’t see any of those same issues during Sunday’s [Combine] session. It’s obvious he has worked hard to correct his flaws in this area.

WHAT YOU MISSED

A look at how league-wide use of the franchise tag affects the Eagles.

Who are the Eagles’ safety options in free agency? Here are some names to know.

The people at Lehigh are waiting to hear from the Eagles about training camp, T-Mac reports.

Some new names appear in the latest mock draft roundup.

Tim takes a look at Chip Kelly and the tight end position.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Sean McCormick of Football Outsiders says the Eagles’ biggest offseason need is cornerback:

The Eagles finished the season with the worst pass defense DVOA in the NFL, a feat that barely seems possible considering the talent the front office assembled by trading for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and signing Nnamdi Asomugha just two seasons ago. As recently as August, the Eagles were essentially willing to give away a Pro Bowl cornerback, sending Asante Samuel packing to Atlanta for a seventh-round pick. Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo’s inability to figure out how to utilize Asomugha cost him his job midway through the season, and successor Todd Bowles’ spectacular flameout — Philadelphia’s pass defense DVOA was a pedestrian 9.0% through the first eight games and a jaw-dropping 44.5% the rest of the way — put the finishing touches on Andy Reid’s tenure. (Defensive DVOA, like yards or points allowed, is worse the higher it goes, so that means we estimate the Eagles were more than 44 percent worse than an average pass defense over their last eight games. If they had been that bad all year, it would have been the worst pass defense since at least 1991.)

Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com takes a look at the Eagles’ draft history:

The Eagles have had 20 first-round picks since 1991 and 16 of them have gone toward drafting a linemen. Those 20 picks have turned into nine defensive linemen, seven offensive linemen, two receivers, one corner and one quarterback. Of the nine defensive linemen, only Corey Simon made a Pro Bowl, although three of the seven offensive linemen did [Jermane Mayberry, Tra Thomas, Shawn Andrews], along with the corner [Lito Sheppard] and the quarterback [Donovan McNabb]. The Eagles have never drafted a defensive end in the first round who’s gone to a Pro Bowl.

COMING UP

More free agency and draft chatter.

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  • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

    If Cox picks up where he left off last season I have no doubts he’ll be in the Pro Bowl soon enough. I’m not sure where his 5.5 sacks put him in the rankings for defensive tackles (or just rookies for that matter) but I’m sure it was up there.

  • Andy

    I could also see a Pro Bowl in Brandon Graham’s future. He’s got that kind of upside.

    • JofreyRice

      He’s had a tough row to hoe. Drafted as a fastball DE, used as an inside passrusher under McDermott (JJ’s punk errand boy), tears an ACL and gains a bunch of weight, has to live in the shadow of JPP, transitions to wide 9 but gets buried on the depth chart behind Washburn’s boy Babin, makes the field and looks pretty good as a 4-3 DE, eventually, transitions back to read-and-react scheme under Brasher, and is now possibly going to be asked to become an OLB under Davis.

      The more I think about it, I’d love to scrap the idea of putting him at OLB and just make him the Predator. I was very skeptical of Graham when they drafted him, but last season, he was just much more effective in passrushing situations than Cole. If they can’t get Cole off the books–which I doubt they can–use him in the nickel or dime packages only.

      • nicksaenz1

        I thought the Predator was an OLB, just an almost strictly pass rushing OLB

        • JofreyRice

          Well when I use the title “OLB” I’m generally referring to the edge player in a 2 point stance on the strong side of the formation that drops back in coverage 30-35% of the time as part of their regular responsibilities, whereas the Predator is the edge player that is rushing the QB 90% of the time from the open, or weak side, and only drops back on rare occasions, and usually just to the flat or a hook zone.

          Davis uses the term “Predator” in his system, but Carroll uses the term “Leo”–both owe a lot to George Seifert’s “Elephant”. It makes sense to me that Davis refers to it as a 4-3 under front, because for all practical purposes, the “Predator/Leo” is the RE.

          Monte Kiffin pioneered the 4-3 under alignment in the 70′s, but George Seifert sort of “invented” the Elephant position in question as the DC in San Fran seeking to exploit matchups by putting the fast, passrushing weakside DE in a 2 point stance, using Charles Haley, Chris Doleman and others. Maybe Carroll changed the nomenclature b/c he has his Leo’s (Clemons, Irvin) in a 3 point Stance most of the time, and aligned a little wider. He employed Clay Matthews in the same position at USC. There probably are other differences between “Elephant” and “Leo” and “Predator” that I’m completely ignorant to, but to a non-defensive coordinator, I think it’s close enough for government work.

          here’s a pretty good article on it:

          http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/08/guide-to-n-f-l-defenses-part-3-the-4-3-front-continued/

          The problem is, someone has to play that Strong side OLB role, that has actual linebacker responsibilities. One of the big responsibilities is the TE a lot of times. It seems like we have 3 guys that have the skill set for the Predator, but none for the SLB, and the more I think about it, the less I like the idea of trying to shoehorn Graham into that spot.

          • nicksaenz1

            Gotcha. I tend to agree that Graham doesn’t fit the role of someone in coverage and that he’s a perfect fit for the Predator. I just hope that doesn’t lead to us drafting Jordan. i’m not sold on him. I’d prefer Ansah. I do, however, think that we need to listen to offers for Cole, if there are any.

          • http://twitter.com/JerryP2375 Jerry Pomroy

            Gotta agree with you. Been doing a lot of youtube watching, looking at Jordan and Ansah. Ziggy is gonna be an offense’s worst nightmare. He’s all over the backfield, doesn’t over-pursue, fights off blocks from tackles & guards, has incredible instincts to find the ball carrier, turns on a dime in pursuit and is a menace to the run game. He’s 20lbs heavier than Jordan, but just a shy slower and you can see that he’s clearly stronger. Yeah Jordan is an inch taller, a split second faster over 40yds & can cover a slot receiver, but Ziggy is lightning quick for a 270lb behemoth & could definitely hang with TEs if needed. He just seems to be the bigger playmaker by far and this team needs defensive playmakers that can stalwart an offense. They don’t grow on trees. He’s that type of player. Plus, he’s only been coached 3yrs of football. Could you imagine him if coached at the highest level and learned how to cover adequately!?! We’re going to be an attacking style defense, there is your point man to lead the charge. He is what Jordan isn’t (pass rusher & run stuffer) just as Jordan is what he isn’t (good in coverage). I’d rather have the disruptive player

          • nicksaenz1

            Mingo was 4.58, Jordan 4.6 and Ansah at 4.63. We’re splitting hairs in the speed category in reality. I’d argue with those numbers that all three would do just fine in coverage, but like you said, with Ansah weighing in at 270, he does everything that people say Jordan needs to add weight to do. If we do go D with the #4 pick, I think Ansah is the guy I’d like.

          • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

            Ziggy is a fine pick, but he’s a bit of a project in the sense that he hasn’t been in football that long. He’s versatile though, you could use him as a DE if you got him to bulk up or an OLB if you got him to slim down a bit.

          • GoBirds1

            BARKEVIOUS MINGO!!!!!!!!!!! He beat Jordan on the all the other combine tests as well. And will naturally fill out to 265-270. He will be a beast. What makes him a bigger reach than Jordan, Ziggy or Jones?

          • nicksaenz1

            Mingo weighed about 240 at the draft, even less than Jordan. How much speed will he lose if/when he fills out to that 265-270? A few draft profiles show he struggles to change direction, which would be requisite for a player being drafted to play the OLB that will mix in roughly 30% coverage. Ansah already has the weight/height/speed combo to go along with the diverse roles he played in college. I will note, to be fair, that all three will require some work, and all three have shown through their college years that work ethic isn’t an issue, so I won’t sit here and be upset if we drafted Mingo or Jordan, but my preference is Ansah. He has technical work to do, like the others, w/o the worry of catching up physically.

      • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

        Yup I think as Nick said Predator is the weakside OLB. Could be wrong, but that was my understanding. “Predator” OLB is essentially a 4-3 DE, but you can move him around and rush him from different spots. He’s rushing the passer 90% of the time, if not more.

        • JofreyRice

          Yeah, I’d say it’s more the weakside DE than the weakside OLB, if I was splitting hairs. The Predator is a 3-4 “OLB” with basically no LB responsibilities–so essentially, it’s semantics whether you want to refer to him as a DE or an OLB, hence the “other” name of “Predator, Leo, Elephant”, whatever, and why Davis refers to it as a “4-3″.

          I’m not trying to get bogged down in the words, but not doing a very good job. I guess I’m talking more about roles and responsibiltiies. I’d rather see Graham in a passrush only role, than one that has a bunch of complex coverage responsibilities, like the Strong Side Linebacker has.

          • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

            Definitely. The thought of Graham covering Gronk or Jimmy Graham makes me wanna puke.

  • JofreyRice

    A few weeks ago, I would have said I thought Smith was being overanalyzed because he’s been the high-profile #1 QB for so long (remember Phil Simms questioning Andrew Luck’s arm strength?), but now I’m not so sure. I really thought Smith had all the tools Reid would have wanted in KC–can throw the intermediate and deep ball, is ultra competitive, quick release, athletic, all that. For Andy and KC to pass on him in favor of Alex Smith was really surprising. I thought that within Andy’s system, Smith could have been a probowl or near-probowl QB, and certainly have led that team to a lot of yards and points.

    I still tend to see the positive aspects of Geno Smith’s game. Maybe I’m over rating it, but I just like his arm-talent. I don’t think he’s got the strongest arm of the class (I think that’s Tyler Bray) but I do think he’s got the best mix of arm-strength and accuracy. I also really like his demeanor. The guy is a psycho about winning, and can get up after getting knocked down. It’s easy to apply labels of underperformers like Akili Smith, or Jason Campbell on the guy, but I think that’s lazy and inaccurate. I just can’t see how teams like the Jaguars and Raiders are going to pass Smith up, with the shitshow they have at QB.

    • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

      I like Geno quite a bit as well. The fact that Andy passed on him just baffles me. We all know how much he LOVES college QB’s, figured it was a no brainer that he’d be taking one in the first round. The Alex Smith deal confuses the hell out of me as well.

      I just can’t see Oakland and Jacksonville taking Geno that high because of two reasons.. the resources they have invested in their current QB’s (They like Palmer in Oak, Gabbert probably gets another year as their guy although they have zero confidence in him) and the fact that they have so many holes elsewhere. Both teams pass rush is essentially non existent.

      The teams I would guess at taking Geno would be Buffalo or Arizona. Fact is Oakland and Jacksonville aren’t getting good any time soon.. they’ll have another top shot at a better QB class next year..

    • FMWarner

      Maybe Andy liked Geno Smith but couldn’t justify using the first pick in the draft on him. I certainly wouldn’t. You can like a guy, but you have to like him at your spot, too. I think Alex Smith is a very good fit for Andy and will do well.

      • ChaliWil

        What makes all three of you think that Andy still won’t draft Geno Smith?? That baffles me.

        • FMWarner

          Well, even the most ardent Andy haters here can’t possibly believe he’d give up two second round picks (and pay $8.5 million) for a QB he doesn’t plan on starting. Or so I thought. I may be wildly overestimating the amount of reason here.

          • GoBirds1

            Reid is pretty old school and stubborn. He might want a season to develop and groom Geno. Smith I think only has two years left on his contract. So it seems like a lot, but if you consider the upside and the position, it is not much, particularly compared to what the skins gave up to get RGIII

        • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

          You’d never use that much resources on a guy then turn around and draft one first overall. That’s just plain ridiculous.

      • JofreyRice

        I disagree, which is why I was so surprised he traded for him. Andy’s offenses may have been labeled “West Coast”, but have always employed a vertical threat that was key to opening up the underneath stuff, like screens and slants; Pinkston, Stallworth, Jackson, the list goes on & on. He’s always had a QB that can throw the ball down the field–even Kolb, who was his weakest arm “top choice” QB, took a lot of downfield shots. In a lot of ways, I feel like the ability to threaten the defense vertically was a big reason why Vick took Kolb’s job in 2010.

        Now, I know Reid worked with Garcia when McNabb went down in 2006, and organized an offense that didn’t need Garcia to chuck the ball 40+ yards downfield in the air, but that was definitely not Reid’s intent for the offense when the season began; it was Plan B. If anything, Reid’s love-affair with the big play has only deepened more over the last few years; some of that could have been Marty, but ultimately, if Andy didn’t co-sign Marty’s game plan and philosophy, he would have made a change.

        Alex Smith lost his job precisely because he couldn’t get the ball down the field to WRs, whereas Kaepernick could. Smith has only looked competent in a system that minimized his role in the offense–where the creative running game Harbaugh brought from Stanford was the driving force. When he was the main focus of the offense, he was universally panned as a huge bust–many were surprised when Harbaugh retained him when he took over as the HC.

        Based on 14 years of history here, I just don’t see Reid minimizing the role of his QB in the offense. He puts the game on his QBs. Smith has failed pretty spectacularly in those situations. Very curious move, to me, to trade for him.