There is clearly a trend in the NFL where teams are looking to draft quarterbacks who are able to run the “read option” offense, a set of plays were an athletic quarterback reads the defenders after the snap and decides to run or pass based on the movements of the defense, and has found a lot of success in the NFL this season. For a quarterback to be successful in this offensive scheme, they have to be athletic, and be able to beat you with both their arm and their legs. We have seen the Seattle Seahawks (Russell Wilson), the San Francisco 49ers (Colin Kaepernick) and the Washington Redskins (Robert Griffin III) all find success with some variation during the 2012 NFL Season.
As the coaching carousel spun this offseason, we saw two teams hire coaches that are fond of athletic quarterbacks that have the ability to run as well as pass, when former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid landed with the Kansas City Chiefs and Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly landed in Reid’s vacancy in Philadelphia. It is likely that both coaches will be looking for new quarterbacks in their new homes this offseason, that is, unless Chip Kelly decides that he wants to keep Michael Vick and the Eagles rework his current ridiculous contract.
Since each of these coaches have taken their new position, I have received countless emails and tweets (@Sportsmasher) from each fan base, asking if their team was going to draft West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, and asking if he can become the next Kaepernick or RGIII. Clearly these fans did not see a lot of West Virginia games over the past few seasons, because while Geno Smith is extremely talented, he is not a “running quarterback.”
In four seasons at West Virginia (three as the starting quarterback) Geno Smith rushed for just 342 yards and 4 touchdowns on 245 carries, which breaks down to an average of just 1.4 yards per carry. In comparison, here are the colligate rushing stats of the quarterbacks I mentioned above:
Colin Kaepernick: 600 Carries, 4,112 yards, 6.7 yards/carry, 59 rushing touchdowns
Robert Griffin III: 528 Carries, 2,257 yards, 4.0 yards/carry, 33 rushing touchdowns
Russell Wilson: 441 Carries, 1,427 yards, 3.3 yards/carry, 23 rushing touchdowns
Geno Smith: 245 carries, 342 yards, 1.4 yards/carry, 4 rushing touchdowns
Geno Smith is an athletic guy, however, he is not going to beat you with his legs by picking up yards in the running game like the quarterbacks above. Smith is what I call “pocket athletic” he has great feet and a feel for the pocket, he uses his athleticism to avoid the rush and lengthen the time he has to make a play. He is also athletic enough to scramble outside of the pocket and make a play, similar to the way that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo avoids the rush and scrambles to make throws downfield, but he will never break a 70 yard touchdown run in the NFL like Michael Vick or RGIII.
Geno Smith will be the first quarterback select in the 2013 NFL Draft in April, but not because of his running ability, it will be because of his arm. Smith is an accurate passer with a strong enough arm to make any NFL throw and during the 2012 season he threw 25 touchdown passes before he threw his first interception. He finished his senior season at West Virginia by throwing for 4,205 yards and 42 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions, while completing 71.2% of his passes, incredible number at the college level.
So while he is not going to be breaking long runs like Michael Vick or Colin Kaepernick, Geno Smith is already more polished as a passer than either of those two players when they were drafted, and he has the tools necessary to succeed at the next level. Fans of the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals or whichever team Geno Smith ends up with in April’s draft, now you know what to expect from your quarterback of the future.
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