You are an NFL general manager and you need a quarterback in the NFL draft.
Is West Virginia University’s Geno Smith your man?
There’s pressure on you to make the right move.
You are making your choice after Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson came into the NFL a year earlier and with visions in Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow of what it’s like when you make the wrong choice still vividly evident.
You watched all the film you could ever ask for of Geno Smith, the college quarterback, and you saw two different players. There were games when he was a top-five pick and games when you wouldn’t dare use a first-round pick on him.
You probably decided with NFL coaching he can become the quarterback who hit Stedman Bailey on those wonderful deep patterns consistently while finding Tavon Austin off in the flat where he could shake loose from a linebacker or safety and turn a 4-yard pass into a 40-yard touchdown.
You weren’t worried about the arm or the accuracy.
But what of the person? What of the intellect, the attitude, the confidence?
Could he handle the heat that comes with playing quarterback in the NFL, the microscope under which the media places him, and could he become the NFL quarterback of the future, the kind of quarterback who could run the standard pro offense along with the emerging zone-read system that is spreading through the league?
Let me tell you … he can do it all, and he let those who will be making those decisions know that in no uncertain terms.
“I think I have the skill set that fits any offense,” Smith said to the media at the NFL Scouting Combine last Friday. “I can play within the pocket, but I’m athletic enough to run that style of offense.”
Don’t get him wrong. It isn’t begging to play in that style of offense.
“I have the ability to. I don’t think that’s my game. I don’t think my game is predicated around that. If a coach wants me to, I’ll definitely be all for it.”
As if to emphasize that, he went out and ran at 4.59 40, making him the fastest quarterback on the grounds.
So read that!
In truth, Smith knows what he possesses. He was at the head of the class in high school and he was at the head of the class in college, and there is little debate that he’s at the head of this draft class, although how that stacks up against other draft classes diminishes that to some degree.
Or does it?
“I’m totally confident in my abilities,” Smith said. “I’m not cocky or trying to say I’m this all-world player right now, because I have many areas where I need to grow. But I do feel like I have a great, tremendous skill set and that I have an opportunity to showcase that.
“You can watch the tape and see all the throws I make. Obviously, I can make every throw on the field. That still needs to be improved. Inconsistency is something that I struggled with, I believe. ... Overall, I believe my skill set is one that is tailored for any offense.”
This is so typical of the quarterback we came to know in Morgantown, supremely confident yet fully aware that there is room to grow … understanding that he is no different than any other college graduate stepping off into the professional world, knowing there is so much to learn about the profession of his choice be it engineering, teaching, reporting or, yes, quarterbacking.
The difference is that those careers give you a lifetime to learn about them, while you have the summer as a quarterback.
Even before he performed at the NFL combine — which some quarterbacks in the past have skipped — Smith was certain that he was the best there was this year, and he wasn’t about to buy that it mattered what kind of quarterback class this one was.
Asked in a radio interview if he believed he was at the top, he offered a straightforward answer.
“Yes I do,” he said. “That’s no disrespect to anyone, but I consider myself one of the best at what I do. You talk about this class and there are some great guys out there, but my goal is to always separate myself from the rest of the group and my goal is to be the best wherever I am.
“Once I go to the next level I’m going to compete, going to work, and my goal is going to be to be the best in the NFL. I just want to make sure people know that I have a goal, I have ambitions, and I’m going to work until I get there.
“I’m not a guy who is cocky or over the top with it,” he continued. “I’m a very humble guy, quiet, and I keep to myself, but when it comes down to football, this is something that I love to do, and quite honestly, I want to be the best at it.”
You listen to that, add it to what you’ve seen, and there really isn’t any reason not to select Geno Smith in the first round of the NFL draft.
Email Bob Hertzel at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.
You are an NFL general manager and you need a quarterback in the NFL draft.
- Bob Herzel
HERTZEL COLUMN: Huggins just wants WVU to compete
In the end, with Bob Huggins, they count victories and losses, and he has always been one to pile up the victories while keeping the losses to a minimum, at least until the last two seasons at West Virginia University.
And, in the end, when he tries to analyze why the losses have come rather than the victories, he comes to understand that he just doesn’t have the manpower to compete.
Carey, Bussie headline Big 12 awards
To the victors go the spoils, and West Virginia University’s newly crowned Big 12 women’s basketball regular-season co-champions certainly took down their share of the conference’s post-season awards, headed by coach Mike Carey and senior center Asya Bussie.
Oklahoma pulls away from WVU, 72-62
Reality hit West Virginia University in the gut Wednesday as No. 23 Oklahoma showed the Mountaineers almost every reason why they are not an NCAA Tournament team this year, pulling away in the second half to a 72-62 victory in Norman.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Lady Mountaineers will always remember their senior season
Taylor Palmer was following a much-traveled path when she packed up her gym shoes four years ago and left Mount Vernon, N.Y., for Morgantown to play basketball.
Lowes Moore and Kevin Jones had both done the same thing and become two of the greatest players West Virginia University had ever produced, each not only playing the game the way it should be played but living life the way it should be lived.
Bradley to give everyone a chance
A day after snubbing the local media by not talking to them on an evening set aside for interviews with assistant coaches, West Virginia University’s latest defensive savior Tom Bradley found 14 minutes to talk to IMG Sports, which possesses the rights to West Virginia sports.
WVU women clinch share of Big 12 title
West Virginia University’s women’s basketball team had just defeated Kansas, 67-60, to lay claim to a share of the Big 12 championship with Baylor on Tuesday night in the Coliseum, and someone had to sum up the feeling for the five seniors who had made the program grow to championship status.
That someone was Christal Caldwell.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Carey sends seniors out the right way
West Virginia women’s coach Mike Carey had just completed putting the finishing touches on cutting down the net, which came moments after he had almost dropped the Big 12 Conference regular-season championship, and now he was standing in front of the media.
Road to NCAA begins tonight for Mountaineers
While they would choose not to believe that it is necessary, it appears the only route West Virginia University has left to the NCAA Tournament – save a miracle run in the Big 12 Tournament to the tournament championship – is to run the table through its final two regular-season games.
New coaches bring different dynamic to WVU
Tom Bradley, the veteran former Penn State assistant coach, had a million reasons to leave a broadcasting job with the Pittsburgh Steelers and take on a job as senior associate head coach under Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia University.
HERTZEL COLUMN- Squires comes from swimming background
It was a weekend to remember, to be sure, and would have been even without the snow.
- More Bob Herzel Headlines
- HERTZEL COLUMN: Huggins just wants WVU to compete