There has been speculation about the New York Jets potentially selecting West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft. Yes, the Jets have shown a decent amount of pre-draft interest and yes considering Mark Sanchez’s performance last year, on the surface there is some sensibility to selecting the consensus top quarterback in the upcoming draft class. However, taking Smith with their 9th overall pick or even the 13th overall pick potentially acquired in a Darrelle Revis trade would be a mistake…a mistake that the Jets aren’t likely to make.
All pre-draft interest should always be taken with a grain of salt, in particular any interest the Jets are showing in 1st or 2nd round quarterback prospects. The Buffalo Bills are selecting one spot ahead of them in round one and two spots behind them in round two, a division rival who also needs a quarterback. The Jets are doing their due diligence on Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib in particular, two quarterbacks Buffalo is also frequently linked with.
Jets GM John Idzik is highly unlikely to tie his tenure in New York to Smith by selecting him in the top half of round one. When you select a quarterback that high, he immediately becomes “your guy” and the pressure to start him will be immediate. Smith is a shaky prospect to tie yourself to as a new GM. Idzik is just leaving a situation where the Seattle Seahawks found one of the most promising young quarterbacks in football, Russell Wilson, in the third round. Why is he going to reach for Smith, who in any other year would be a 2nd round prospect?
Smith has his share of qualities that will translate well into the NFL and in particular to an offense that Marty Mornhinweg could run. He was accurate in the short passing game and showed a consistent quick release. The mobility is there and the general avoidance of interceptions. However, it is hard to shake seeing Smith playing 30 miles from MetLife Stadium last December, taking two safeties, losing a fumble, only leading his offense to 14 points and looking generally skittish against Syracuse.
The same skittish Smith was present in blowout defeats to Texas Tech and Kansas State. In each of those games, West Virginia only managed 14 points and Smith’s accuracy noticeably dropped off, particularly against Kansas State where he threw two interceptions and only managed 143 yards passing and a net of negative 15 yards rushing. His problems throwing the deep ball accurately and with velocity were magnified, along his negative tendency to throw off his back foot when under pressure.
There should be major concerns with spending a top ten pick on a quarterback of a team who suffered a 5 game losing streak last year and had his accuracy, poise and ability to avoid sacks fall off a cliff in three of the season’s most important games (Texas Tech, Kansas State, Syracuse). Smith has talent…but second round talent…not top ten, tie your entire team to his development talent. Idzik should be wise to this and if the Jets take a quarterback, don’t look for it to be until the third or fourth round.