- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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This is the eighth in a series highlighting players who could be selected by the Jets with the ninth overall pick in the April 25 draft:
Player: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Height/Weight: 6-foot-2 3/8, 218 pounds
Scouts, Inc. ranking: 20
Draft projection: Third to anyone's guess
Scouting report: Conventional wisdom suggests the Jets won't take the Geno plunge at No. 9, considering they have an $8.25 million guarantee invested in Mark Sanchez and an already-crowded depth chart at quarterback. That said, I know top scout Terry Bradway and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg attended Smith's pro day, met with him and came back "raving" about him, according to a source. Hmm. Smith is the top QB prospect, but he's far from a sure thing. Is GM John Idzik willing to take the chance?
Smith has a strong arm and outstanding mobility (he clocked the best 40 time for QBs at the combine, 4.56 seconds). He has the tools to be a franchise player, but there are inconsistencies in his game. He displayed shaky pocket presence, struggled down the stretch last season and played poorly in cold weather. He was horrible against Syracuse in a snowy Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. There's a lot to like about Smith (a 42/6 TD-INT ratio in 2012), but if he's so good, why did Chiefs coach Andy Reid -- owner of the No. 1 pick -- trade for Alex Smith? Why did three other teams with top-eight picks acquire veteran QBs?
Key stats: Smith threw 177 of his 518 passes at or behind the line of scrimmage in 2012, including 112 screen passes. As a result, Smith’s average pass traveled 7.7 yards past the line, the fewest air yards per attempt of any top QB prospect, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That contributed to his unusually high completion percentage, 71.6.
Red flags: Smith has small hands (9 1/4 inches), which may help explain why he had 32 career fumbles.
In his own words: "(Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III) changed expectations for many quarterbacks let alone rookies. Those guys stepped right in, including Russell [Wilson], and were leaders most of all from day one. And that's the one thing I took from it. No matter what age difference, where you come from or what pick you are when you're taken for that role as a quarterback in the NFL, you have to lead by example. That's the thing all those guys did. They set the bar very high. I want to be one of those guys that step in and do the same thing."