Eagles Wake-Up Call: Harsh Criticism For Geno Smith

Most scouts, evaluators and analysts seem to have at least some questions about Geno Smith as a top-level prospect.

Some believe his flaws are fixable and think he should be without question the top quarterback off the board in April’s draft. Others think he’s no more than a second-round talent.

But Pro Football Weekly’s Nolan Nawrocki recently took his criticism to another level, slamming Smith in his pre-draft scouting report. Here’s a snippet:

Not a student of the game. Nonchalant field presence — does not command respect from teammates and cannot inspire. Mild practice demeanor — no urgency. Not committed or focused — marginal work ethic. Interviewed poorly at the Combine and did not show an understanding of concepts on the white board. Opted not to compete at the Senior Bowl and has approached offseason training as if he has already arrived and it shows in his body with minimal muscle definition or strength.

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. Will be overdrafted and struggle to produce against NFL defensive complexities.

Harsh words, especially when you consider how different they are from some of the other things that have been said about Smith. For example, his quarterbacks coach at West Virginia told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Smith was a “film junkie” and explained that he was more a student of the game than other prospects he coached, like Brandon Weeden.

Back in 2011, Nawrocki infamously ripped Cam Newton, calling him “disingenuous” and writing that he had a “fake smile.”

Evaluating character and leadership is obviously part of the scouting process – especially for quarterbacks. Whichever team takes Smith will expect him to be the face of the franchise. That’s part of the reason why Jeffrey Lurie accompanied Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman to the workout in Morgantown.

Despite Nawrocki’s assessment of Newton, the Panthers still selected him first overall. We’ll find out later this month what teams really think of Smith.

As for the class as a whole, projections are all over the place. ESPN.com’s Todd McShay said on ESPN Radio Monday that he’s hearing Florida State’s EJ Manuel could go as early as the middle of the first round.

Meanwhile, NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah continues to hear that teams won’t reach for QBs in this year’s class, noting that the value is in the second round.

The Raiders pick one spot ahead of the Eagles and traded for Matt Flynn on Monday. That doesn’t mean they can‘t draft Smith with the third pick, but it certainly makes it less likely.

WHAT YOU MISSED

A look at what the Eagles have left from the Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb trades.

The Birds recently worked out Stanford tight end Zach Ertz and some other prospects.

Could Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel be available at No. 4? T-Mac takes a look.

In the national media roundup, one writer criticizes the Eagles for the Cary Williams and Connor Barwin signings.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Dave Spadaro of PhiladelphiaEagles.com caught up with some of the players upon their return to NovaCare:

“All energy, straight energy,” said linebacker DeMeco Ryans. “Coach started speaking and everybody — everybody — was right there on every word. No doubt everybody is excited about a fresh start and what lies ahead for us.”

Utah DT Star Lotulelei got good news about his heart condition. From The Salt Lake Tribune:

Star Lotulelei’s draft stock, which slipped in some experts’ opinions after testing at the combine revealed he had a heart condition, could rise again based on his latest round of testing.

Recent testing revealed he has “no evidence of dysfunction,” and that medical exams found his heart function performed “consistently with that of highly trained athletes,” according to Dave Petron, Utah’s team physician.

COMING UP

We’ll be down at NovaCare and plan on catching up with Jason Peters and Brandon Graham. Stay tuned for updates.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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