Jaws' QB rankings: Alex Smith is No. 20

July, 5, 2013
7/05/13
5:30
PM ET
There is a ton of excitement in Kansas City as the Chiefs turn to Alex Smith at quarterback.

The Chiefs acquired Smith ( the best quarterback available this offseason) and he should be a major upgrade over Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn. Smith showed in San Francisco he can be a solid system quarterback. I expect new Kansa City coach Andy Reid to play to Smith’s strengths.

Smith is certainly not an elite quarterback but he can win. In his quarterback ratings, ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski has Smith ranked as the 20th best quarterback in the NFL. I think that’s fair. This is a good quarterback league these days. Smith is the second AFC West quarterback on the list so far. New Oakland quarterback Matt Flynn is ranked No. 32.

Here is Jaworski’s analysis on Smith:

“Now it gets interesting. My top 20. My 20th-ranked quarterback is Alex Smith. A year ago, Smith was coming off his best season in the NFL, having led the 49ers to the NFC Championship. This year, he’s the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs. It was a great move by Andy Reid to acquire Smith.

“The defining element of Smith’s play is efficiency. He executes the offense the way it’s designed, and he makes very few mistakes. Last season -- for the second year in a row -- he was exceptional on first down. In 2012 he led the NFL in first-down passing, with a quarterback rating of 119. Much of it came off play-action, or in the case of the 49ers, hard run-action out of base personnel. There was no better play-action quarterback last season than Smith. He had a quarterback rating of over 132.

“Smith has been outstanding out of multiple tight end personnel over the last couple of seasons. No quarterback has thrown the ball more with three tight ends on the field. You don’t see that very often in today’s NFL.

“This play was beautifully designed with all three tight ends to the same side. First, look at the impact of the run-action on the two linebackers and the safety. This was hard run-action. Then you see that Delanie Walker’s vertical route occupied the corner. That left Vernon Davis matched on a safety, a safety that initially reacted to run. He had no chance on Davis’ wheel route.

“One area Smith improved in 2012 was in the pre-snap phase of the game. He was much better at the line of scrimmage checking and audibling.

“It will be interesting to see what Andy Reid does in Kansas City. Don’t be surprised if he turns Smith loose a little bit and features an up-tempo offense with an emphasis on quick throws. Remember, Alex Smith played for Urban Meyer at Utah.”

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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