On Geno Smith and Becoming (Or Not) a Successful NFL Quarterback

There’s really no way of telling if someone is going to be great in the NFL, especially not with quarterbacks. Geno Smith was on an amazing run for the first half of his final season with West Virginia, looking like the best in the nation at his position. He’s hoping that those five weeks are what stick in the minds of those who will determine his fate and place in the next NFL draft.

Arm strength and accuracy; awareness; the ability to avoid sacks and make plays while stepping out of the pocket; the ability to execute play-action; your decision making and how you’re going to fit in the read-option, the new most popular trend in the NFL before everyone reverts back to the classic pocket passers.

By looking at Smith’s numbers at West Virginia, it’s impossible to tell if he’s going to be great. For some reason, there was that something about Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III when they entered the NFL draft. Everyone was so sure they’re the real deal, and they turned out to be, at least on their rookie seasons. But Russell Wilson wasn’t, or shouldn’t have been a success in his rookie year, and arguably, he was the best of a very talented class, that also includes Ryan Tannehill, doing a good job on his first season with the Miami Dolphins.

Like someone once said of the NBA and College Basketball – these aren’t just different leagues, it’s almost an entirely different sport, on a different planet. The things you need in your skill set to succeed in the NFL are often quite different from what made you so great in College, especially at quarterback, where we’ve had so many players get all the accolades in the world before throwing a single pass in the pros, only to turn out to be complete duds, or part-time backups at best.

On the other hand, guys like Tom Brady go unnoticed, almost undrafted, and with a combination of skill and luck turn into one of the greatest to have ever played the game. Sometimes it is a bingo – Peyton Manning became everything the Colts dreamed he’d be and more.

Geno Smith? It’s impossible to tell. All the pre-draft hype might help him earn a better contract thanks to being picked higher. Being a hit in the NFL? Not even the biggest experts can tell you that, regardless of how many hours of film they’ve seen, how many scouting reports they’ve read. While it’s not exactly a coin flip, because you do get some sort of weeding out process through the careers players have in their College days, it’s not that far from that.