Stats & Info: Geno Smith

Top stats to know: Jets QB moves

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21

Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesThe Jets released Mark Sanchez (right) and signed Michael Vick (left) today.

The New York Jets released Mark Sanchez and signed Michael Vick today. Here are the top stats to know on the Jets quarterback position shake-up.

1. Since he entered the NFL in 2009, no qualified quarterback has posted a worse Total QBR than Mark Sanchez’s 36.1. His 43 fumbles in that span are the second-most in the NFL behind Joe Flacco’s 45, but Flacco logged 1,251 more snaps during that time.

2. For all of Sanchez's struggles, he was effective in the postseason. Sanchez went 4-2 as a postseason starter, beating teams led by Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Carson Palmer. All six of his postseason games were played on the road.

3. Michael Vick completed a career-high 62.6 percent of his passes in his first season back as a full-time starter in 2010. Since then, his completion percentage has declined every year (54.6 percent last season).

In his first two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Vick went 15-9 as a starter and had a plus-19 touchdown-interception differential. In his last two seasons in Philadelphia, Vick went 5-11 with a plus-4 touchdown-interception differential.

Health has also been an issue with Vick throughout his career, as he has played the full 16 games just once in his 11 seasons.

4. Here’s the good news about Michael Vick: despite missing time in each of the past four seasons, he has gained the second-most rushing yards among quarterbacks, trailing only Cam Newton. Vick is also the all-time rushing leader among quarterbacks with 5,857 rushing yards.

Should the Jets opt to run more zone-read plays, Vick would fit that scheme well. The Eagles averaged 6.1 yards per rush on zone reads last season with Vick at quarterback. Vick averaged 14.0 yards per rush the nine times he kept the ball on those plays.

5. Pressure affects Vick more than most quarterbacks. Since Vick first became the Eagles starter in 2010, only Carson Palmer and Eli Manning have thrown more than Vick’s 15 interceptions when under pressure.

However, if he’s not pressured, Vick might be a better option than current Jets starting quarterback Geno Smith. Smith turned the ball over more than three times as often against standard pressure as Michael Vick did in his seven games played last year.

Other fun facts on Jets
The Jets have a history of making moves for a quarterback on March 21. Two years ago today, the Jets acquired Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos.

The Jets are expected to save $8.3 million in cap dollars by cutting Mark Sanchez. Even after signing Michael Vick to a one-year, $5 million deal, the Jets have the third-most salary cap space in the league at approximately $27.5 million.

Tom Brady gets back on track

November, 4, 2013

Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY SportsTom Brady played his best game of the season on Sunday, posting a Total QBR of 97.7.
As a reminder, Total QBR is a quarterback rating that takes into account all of a QB’s significant contributions (passing, rushing, sacks, fumbles, penalties) to his team’s scoring and winning and summarizes them into one number on a 0-100 scale, where 50 is average. Since 2008, the team with the higher QBR has won about 84 percent of the time. Complete QBR statistics for all quarterbacks can be found here.

Brady dominates
Tom Brady posted season-highs Sunday with a 97.7 Total QBR, four touchdown passes and 432 yards passing. He had a huge day after throwing for only two touchdowns in his previous four games.

Brady completed 8-of-12 (66.7 percent) passes for 290 yards and four touchdowns on throws more than 15 yards downfield. He completed 30.3 percent of such throws this season entering Sunday, ranked 29th in the NFL, with two touchdowns in eight games.

Where QBR and passer rating differ
Andrew Luck had a 99.3 Total QBR in the fourth quarter Sunday night(6-8 passing, 119 yards, 2 TD), raising his fourth-quarter Total QBR to 83.8 this season, the fifth best in the NFL. His fourth-quarter Passer Rating is 73.0 this season, tied for 21st in the NFL.

Foles picks apart Raiders
Nick Foles had a 99.1 Total QBR, a mark only surpassed by one performance this season: Colin Kaepernick. Foles became the third quarterback to throw seven touchdown passes in a game without throwing an interception, joining Y.A. Tittle (1962 New York Giants) and Peyton Manning (Week 1, 2013). Click here for more on Foles' great day.

Newton solid again
Cam Newton posted a 70.5 Total QBR Sunday, his fourth straight game with a Total QBR over 70 (65 to 70 over a season is a Pro Bowl-level rating). Newton has an 83.5 Total QBR since Week 6, the second-best in the NFL behind Colin Kaepernick.

Smith shaky, but a winner
Geno Smith finished with a 14.8 Total QBR in the Jets' win on Sunday. That's the second-lowest Total QBR by a winning QB this season (minimum 15 action plays). The only one lower was a 9.8 by E.J. Manuel of the Bills against the Ravens in Week 4.

Win probability on Cowboys comeback
Sunday, Tony Romo went from goat to hero in one quarter. His fourth quarter interception with 4:35 left dropped the Cowboys’ win probability to just 21.4 percent. But he got a second chance and engineered a nine play, 90-yard drive to put the Cowboys ahead of the Vikings with 0:42 seconds left.

The Cowboys' win probability was at 32.6 percent with 2:44 left when their final drive started, but rose by 20.3 percentage points after a 34-yard pass to Dez Bryant, and 38.3 percentage points to 97.5 after his go-ahead touchdown pass.

Quick hitters
Case Keenum had a Total QBR of 96.6, the highest Total QBR by a Texans quarterback since 2006. The previous single-game high for a Texans quarterback this season was 63.5 (Matt Schaub - Week 6). It was also the highest Total QBR in a loss over the last five seasons.

Jason Campbell posted a 76.5 Total QBR Sunday and his 60.1 Total QBR this season ranks 13th in the NFL (min. 75 action plays). Brian Hoyer and Brandon Weeden rank 22nd and 38th respectively in Total QBR this season.

Alex Smith had a 30.5 Total QBR against the Bills, his fourth win this season with a Total QBR of less than 40 (most in the NFL).

Keys to victory: Jets 30, Patriots 27 (OT)

October, 20, 2013

Maddie Meyer/Getty ImagesGeno Smith made the necessary adjustments on his throws to beat the Patriots.
What were the biggest keys to the Jets win over the Patriots on Sunday?

Brady containment
Tom Brady entered the day ranked fifth-worst in the NFL at completing throws more than 10 yards downfield. The numbers didn’t get any better on Sunday.

Brady was 4-for-20 on throws more than 10 yards downfield in this game. He is 14-for-50 (28 percent) on those throws over the last three games.

In 2011 and 2012, Brady had a completion rate of 48 percent on those throws, which rated 13th-best in that span.

Brady had his third game this season with a sub-50 percent completion rate, his most such games in any season.

Below is a look at Brady's completion rate by throw distance this season, illustrating his overall struggles on his longer throws.

Rob Gronkowski was targeted a career-high 17 times by Brady, but had only eight receptions. It was only the third time since Gronkowski joined the team that he and Brady failed to connect on at least half of their attempts in a game.

Four of Brady’s passes to Gronkowski were either defended or intercepted, three of which were intercepted or defended by safety Antonio Allen. Allen had no pass breakups entering the game.

The Jets rarely sent heavy pressure, sending four or fewer pass rushers on 43 of Brady’s 49 dropbacks (88 percent).

Brady completed 20-of-41 passes against that pressure, including the interception returned for a touchdown, and was sacked three times.

Geno Smith was good enough
Geno Smith had one blip, with his early pick-six, but got the job done in the end.

Smith completed 7-of-16 passes more than 10 yards downfield, without throwing an interception, after throwing three in 15 attempts in the Week 2 loss against the Patriots.

Smith has only one interception on those passes in wins this season, compared to five in losses.

Smith became the fourth quarterback to lead his team on a game-winning drive in each of his first four career wins since the AFL and NFL merged in 1970. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that the other three are Lynn Dickey, Troy Aikman and Bruce Gradkowski.

Unsung hero: Nick Folk
Though some may attach an asterisk to this, since he had a missed kick wiped out by that controversial penalty in overtime, Nick Folk continued his run of perfection through 2013.

Folk went 3-for-3 on his field goal tries on Sunday, making him 16-for-16 on field-goal attempts this season (the most consecutive kicks made to start a season in Jets history).

Folk has three game-winning field goals this season, one with two seconds left against the Buccaneers, one with no time left against the Falcons, and the one in overtime against the Patriots. Elias notes that is the most game-winning kicks in the final minute in regulation or any point in overtime in a single season in Jets history (Mike Nugent had two in 2007).

Folk has seven field goals this season of at least 40 yards, including all three game winners (48, 43 and 42 yards respectively). He totaled eight such kicks in each of the last two seasons.

Smith's poise wins out for Jets

October, 8, 2013

Geno Smith was particularly accurate on Monday night.

Geno Smith did it again.

Smith led the Jets to an unlikely road win on Monday Night Football in Atlanta and there were accolades aplenty for his effort.

A night to remember
Geno Smith became the second rookie starting quarterback to win on the road on Monday Night Football in 17 tries, joining Ed Rubbert, who was a replacement player for the Washington Redskins.

He’s also the second rookie to throw at least three touchdown passes on Monday Night Football, joining Dan Marino (1983 against the Cincinnati Bengals).

Smith completed 16 of 20 passes, an 80 percent completion rate that ranks best for a rookie quarterback with at least 10 attempts in a Monday Night Football game.

This was the NFL-high third game-winning fourth-quarter drive quarterbacked by Smith this season. It was the second time this season that he’s quarterbacked a fourth-quarter comeback.

Prior to this season, the Jets only had two regular-season games in their history in which their rookie quarterback led a fourth-quarter comeback win (in 1973, by Bill Dmemory against the Patriots and in 1984 by Ken O’Brien against the Bills).

Smith is the third quarterback in Jets history to complete 80 percent of his throws with at least three touchdown passes, joining O’Brien (1986 against the Seahawks) and Chad Pennington (2002 against the Lions). He’s the first quarterback to complete 80 percent of his passes against the Falcons since Tom Brady did for the 2005 Patriots.

But even bigger than that: He’s the first rookie in the Super Bowl era to go on the road and have a game in which he completed at least 80 percent of his passes, threw for at least three touchdowns, and had no interceptions.

How he won
Smith’s poise was what won him the game.

Smith was good early in the game when the Falcons sent at least five pass rushers. He completed 6-of-7 attempts for 62 yards in those situations, including two touchdown passes.

In his first four games, Smith was vulnerable to that aggressive of a rush, going 25-for-48 with two touchdowns, two interceptions and seven sacks.

The Falcons would only sack him once with a five man rush on Monday.

Smith also looked very composed in the fourth quarter, going 6-for-6 with a touchdown pass, and 4-for-4 on the Jets final drive.

Smith was 14-for-27 with three interceptions in the fourth quarter in his first four games.

Top things to know: Jets at Falcons

October, 7, 2013

Getty Images
Matt Ryan’s Falcons host Geno Smith and the Jets on MNF. Both teams are trying to get back on track.

The New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons meet tonight on Monday Night Football (8:25 ET/ESPN). The Falcons are trying to avoid their first three-game losing streak since a six-game skid in 2007. The Jets are looking for their first win on the road since Week 14 last season at Jacksonville.

Here are five stats Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden might touch on tonight.

1. Despite last week's loss to the Patriots, Matt Ryan is 34-6 in his career at the Georgia Dome. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only quarterback with more wins in his first 40 home starts is Brett Favre (35).

2. The Jets will be without starting wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who injured his hamstring in last week's loss at Tennessee.

Geno Smith targeted Holmes a team-high 23 times this season but completed only 43.5 percent of those attempts, the third-worst percentage for any QB-WR duo in the league (min. 20 attempts). Smith has completed 60.2 percent of his passes to all other Jets this season.

3. Ryan completed a league-best 70.5 percent of his passes in the final two minutes of the half last season but has regressed to a 52.0 completion percentage this season. Ryan completed only half of his attempts in those situations in the first four years of his career.

4. A year after tying for the league lead with 37 turnovers, the Jets are on pace to give it away 48 times in 2013. Smith has 11 turnovers this season, second most in the league behind Eli Manning’s 14.

5. Although the Jets’ offense is in tough shape, the defense has been solid, ranking near the top of the league in many important categories.

The Jets have allowed 3.0 yards per rush this season, best in the NFL. The Jets have disrupted runs early this season, making first contact in the backfield on 25 percent of the runs they’ve faced, second best in the NFL.

Other Notes

• Matt Ryan has been sacked or put under duress on 28 percent of his dropbacks this season, up from 17 percent last season. All three of Ryan’s interceptions this season have been while under duress (threw two under duress last season).

• Matt Ryan has targeted Harry Douglas (23 targets) more than Roddy White (18) this season. Ryan and White have connected on 55.6 percent of their attempts this season compared to 65.7 percent last season.

White, who suffered an ankle injury during the preseason, was Ryan’s most-targeted receiver last year (140). This season he is being targeted on 14.4 percent of passing routes he's run, compared to 16.1 percent for Douglas.

Top things to know: Jets at Patriots

September, 12, 2013
Getty Images, USA TODAY SportsRookie Geno Smith (left) faces off with three-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady (right) tonight.

The New York Jets and New England Patriots kick off Week 2 in an early-season battle for the AFC East lead.

Here are five stats to keep in mind entering tonight’s contest:

1. Tom Brady's 5-0 career record on Thursdays is the best in NFL history. Brady also has another active streak of note: He has thrown a touchdown pass in 49 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in NFL history.

Brady trails Drew Brees for the record, whose 54-game streak came to an end in Week 13 last season.

2. With Shane Vereen ruled out and Danny Amendola not expected to play, Tom Brady will be without two of his top three targets from Week 1.

When targeting those two and Julian Edelman in Week 1, Brady went 24-of-33 with two touchdowns. When targeting all other Patriots receivers, Brady went 5-of-19 with an interception.

3. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Patriots are the first team since the merger in 1970 to face rookie quarterbacks in Weeks 1 and 2 of a season (EJ Manuel and Geno Smith).

As Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick is a perfect 4-0 with an average margin of victory of 23.5 points when hosting rookie quarterbacks.

4. Geno Smith started and won in Week 1 as a rookie for the Jets. The last rookie to start and win his team's first two games was his teammate Mark Sanchez, who defeated the Patriots in Week 2 of the 2009 season.

Elias tells us that Smith can join Sanchez on the list of rookie quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era to start and win each of their team’s first two games of a season: Greg Cook (1969 Bengals), John Elway (1983 Broncos), Ryan Leaf (1998 Chargers) and Joe Flacco (2008 Ravens) comprise the rest of the list.

5. The Patriots have won 11 consecutive division games dating back to the 2011 season, the longest current streak of its kind for any NFL team. Since the merger, the longest winning streak by an NFL team against division opponents is 15 by the Dolphins from 1972 to 1973 (Source: Elias).

The Jets also hope to snap their five-game losing streak to the Patriots. They have only had two losing streaks longer than five games to the Patriots in franchise history -- seven from 2003-06 and six from 1994-97.

Smith good enough to win in the end

September, 8, 2013
Rich Schultz/Getty ImagesGeno Smith had enough good moments in his NFL debut to win.

It was a day that in the end was statistically average, but that was perfectly acceptable for the New York Jets and their new starting quarterback, rookie Geno Smith.

Smith came up with the game’s biggest play at the end, a 10-yard run/late hit penalty combo that put the Jets in range for Nick Folk’s game-winning field goal in their victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Smith went 7-for-11 for 83 yards in the fourth quarter. His Total QBR in the final 15 minutes was 76.0, nearly double his 38.3 through the first three quarters.

Smith’s QBR rose significantly in the second half. He was at 31.2 after 15 minutes and 29.1 at halftime. But he posted a 60.3 QBR in the third quarter to start the turnaround.

In the end, the 48.5 was higher than Mark Sanchez's QBR in 11 of his 15 games last season.

A closer look at his rating
Smith was 19-for-28 for 201 of his 256 yards and nine first downs when the Buccaneers sent four pass rushers or fewer. Sanchez completed only 57 percent of his throws against standard pressure last season, averaging 5.5 first downs per game.

Smith was judged to be “off-target” by our video-review crew on only four of his 38 pass attempts (11 percent). By comparison, Sanchez had an off-target rate of 22 percent last season.

The one note that might temper the enthusiasm of the Jets coaching staff is that Smith’s Total QBR on pass plays was only 25.7, largely due to the five sacks he took (one of which allowed the Buccaneers to take over deep in Jets territory in the second quarter, and two others that cost the Jets more than 10 yards).

His overall Total QBR was boosted significantly by his six scrambles, including the one on the Jets’ final offensive play, which bumped him from 43.2 to 48.5. The key scramble was only his second one outside the right tackle in the game. His four others went to the left or up the middle.

Sanchez vs Smith: Who has the edge?

August, 9, 2013

AP Photo/Bill KostrounThe Geno Smith/Mark Sanchez quarterback competition really gets going today.
The New York Jets play their first preseason game tonight in Detroit and the quarterback competition between Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith will be a main attraction.

Sanchez will start against the Lions but the two will each take snaps with the first-team offense. Rex Ryan will use the next few weeks to decide who will be his starting quarterback on September 8 against the Buccaneers. Despite his lack of NFL experience, the numbers suggest that Smith may be the man for the job.

Let's statistically compare the two, looking at Smith in college last year and Sanchez's numbers with the Jets.

Cold Weather
Playing in cold weather is one factor that should go into Rex Ryan’s decision-making, especially considering the Jets play in the Northeast.

In his last two seasons at West Virginia, Geno Smith faced seven teams from automatic-qualifying conferences when the temperature was 50 degrees or colder.

The Mountaineers were 2-5 in those games and Smith had a lower completion percentage than in the 14 games West Virginia played against automatic qualifiers when it was above 50 degrees.

But Smith’s completion percentage of 64.7 when the temperature was 50 or below doesn’t look as bad when comparing it to Mark Sanchez’s numbers.

Sanchez completed 54.4 percent of his passes when the temperature was 50 or below last season, and his 8.1 Total QBR in such games was the second lowest in the league.

Facing the blitz
One of the areas where Smith excelled in college was against added pressure. In his final season at West Virginia, he completed over 70 percent of his passes against five or more pass rushers, and threw just one interception against such pressure.

While dealing with pressure is an area where Smith excelled in college, the same can’t be said for Sanchez.

He threw a career-low five touchdowns against added pressure last season and was one of only three qualified quarterbacks in the NFL to complete fewer than half of his throws against five or more pass rushers.

Throwing downfield
Throwing the ball downfield is an area where the Jets will need to improve this season. They threw just three touchdowns on throws of at least 15 yards downfield in 2012, tied for the second fewest in the NFL.

Not only did Mark Sanchez struggle to get the ball in the end zone on such throws, he threw a league-high 10 interceptions and had the worst touchdown-to-interception ratio on throws of 15 or more yards in the league.

West Virginia featured a pass-happy attack last year, but it's worth noting that Geno Smith's 15 touchdowns on passes that traveled at least 15 yards downfield were more than any NFL player on such throws.

A common thread in West Virginia’s six 2012 losses was Smith being unable to connect on those deeper throws. He completed seven percent of his passes thrown 15 yards downfield in the team’s losses last season, down from 21 percent in their wins.

Under Center vs Shotgun/Pistol
One of the factors working against Smith is that he didn't have much game experience in taking snaps from center. He attempted over 96 percent of his passes out of the shotgun or pistol formations last season. The average NFL quarterback attempted over a third of his passes from under center.

The Jets ran 399 plays out of the shotgun formation last season, the 11th fewest in the league, but their Total QBR of 20 when passing out of the shotgun was the lowest in the NFL.

Rookies fill needs for Jets, Eagles, Chargers

May, 10, 2013
Rookie minicamps start on Friday for three teams that missed the playoffs in 2012: San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets.

It’ll be the first look at two of the more high-profile quarterbacks from this year’s draft class, Geno Smith and Matt Barkley, but there are other storylines worth keeping an eye on.

The Chargers are one team that does not have a question at quarterback. Philip Rivers has started every game in San Diego since the start of 2006.

However, Rivers was sacked a franchise-record 49 times in 2012. That’s one reason the Chargers selected OT D.J. Fluker in the first round. It marks the first time the Bolts drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since taking James Fitzpatrick in 1986. From 1987-2012, San Diego was the only team that did not draft an offensive lineman in the first round.

Protecting Rivers isn’t the only reason the Chargers drafted Fluker. In 2012, San Diego was tied with the Detroit Lions for the fewest 20-yard runs. The Chargers also were one of two teams that averaged less than 2.0 yards per rush before contact.

In the second round the Chargers traded up to draft Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o. The 2012 Heisman Trophy runner-up intercepted seven passes in 13 games, the most by a linebacker since 2006.

The Eagles drafted offensive players with their first two picks (OT Lane Johnson, TE Zach Ertz). In Andy Reid’s 14 seasons with the Eagles, they drafted offensive players with their first two picks only once (2009, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy).

In 2012, the Eagles used nine different starters on the offensive line, tied for fourth-most in the NFL. That inconsistency on the offensive line is one reason the Eagles allowed the most quarterback pressures (239) last season.

Only one offensive lineman, left guard Evan Mathis, start all 16 games last season for the Eagles.

With Michael Vick a free agent after next season, the Eagles drafted QB Matt Barkley in the fourth round. Barkley was the third QB selected by the Eagles in the first four rounds of the last four drafts (Nick Foles in 2012, Mike Kafka in 2010).

Two areas where Barkley excelled at USC were passing against the blitz and deep passes. Both are areas that Philadelphia’s quarterbacks struggled in last season.

The Jets have not been stellar at the quarterback position over the last few years. Mark Sanchez has the lowest Total QBR in the NFL since 2009.

In the second round, the Jets drafted Geno Smith out of West Virginia to compete with Sanchez and newcomer David Garrard for the starting QB job. Smith is the fourth QB the Jets have drafted in the second round in the Common Draft Era (since 1967). The first three went a combined 12-29 in starts with the Jets.

At West Virginia, Smith relied on screens (34.2 percent of his passes were at or behind the line of scrimmage in 2012) and shotgun passing (over 96 percent of his passes out of shotgun during his college career). The Jets were one of the league’s worst teams on screen passes last year.

The Jets offense ranked among the bottom five in the league in points, yards and turnovers last season. They’re hoping that Smith can help drastically improve their offense in the future.

Why Bills drafted EJ Manuel in first round

April, 29, 2013

Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesEJ Manuel's accuracy, both in and out of the pocket, is just one reason the Bills drafted him.
The biggest surprise of the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft may have been the Buffalo Bills trading back and selecting Florida State QB EJ Manuel with the 16th-overall pick.

According to Scouts Inc., Manuel was the sixth-ranked quarterback entering the draft, which begs the question:

What did the Bills see in him?

Bills’ general manager Buddy Nix and head coach Doug Marrone conducted a post-draft interview and defended their pick, pointing to Manuel’s tremendous upside and athleticism.

When asked to size up Manuel’s best attributes, Marrone stated:

“Well I think you could start listing many things. He can throw the football vertically down the field, he has a good arm, he can get himself out of trouble, he can create things with his feet, he has good presence in the huddle, he’s accurate and we are excited to have him.”

Let's break that quote down to show you what Marrone was looking at.

He can throw the football vertically down the field
Manuel improved his completion percentage on passes of 20 yards or longer in his junior and senior seasons. In 2012, Manuel completed 49.2 percent of his passes of 20 yards or longer, the highest completion percentage of any of Scouts Inc.’s top six quarterback prospects.

He can get himself out of trouble
In 2012, Manuel completed 55.8 percent of his passes when under duress, a higher completion percentage than Geno Smith (49.3), Matt Barkley (49.3) and Landry Jones (37.1).

Marrone pointed to Manuel’s ability to keep his eyes downfield when flushed out of the pocket. In the past three seasons, Manuel actually was more accurate when outside the pocket than inside it.

When forced out of the pocket, Manuel completed 60 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions.

He can create things with his feet
In addition to passing on the move, Manuel scrambled for first downs when he chose to. In 2012, Manuel scrambled for 199 yards and 10 first downs on 28 scrambles, averaging 7.1 yards per scramble. On third downs, Manuel scrambled for six first downs and averaged 7.7 yards per scramble.

He also rushed for 208 yards on designed running plays, including six rushes for 45 yards on zone-read options. Comparatively, Geno Smith gained 27 yards on designed rushes in 2012.

Good presence in the huddle
There is no statistical measure of leadership, but Marrone pointed to Manuel’s superior record as a starter.

Manuel led the Seminoles to a 25-6 record as a starter, including four straight bowl wins. No other top QB prospect had a better win percentage as a college starter than Manuel.

He’s accurate
Manuel completed more than two-thirds of the passes he threw in his career.

In his last three seasons, 81 percent of his passes were on target (passes that were not overthrown, underthrown or wide of his receiver), comparable numbers to Smith (83.4) and Barkley (80.3).

Tyler Kaufman/Icon SMISam Montgomery (99) and Kevin Minter (46) joined Barkevious Mingo (49) as three of the six LSU players -- all on defense -- taken in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft.
Much like the past few college football seasons, the first three rounds of the NFL Draft were dominated by the SEC -- 32 of the 97 draftees have come from the SEC, the most from one conference in a single draft (the previous record was 25 from the ACC in 2006).

Last year there were 16 SEC players drafted in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft.

Cornerback Tyrann Mathieu was one of six LSU players drafted -- all from the defense -- the most defensive players ever drafted from one school the first three rounds in a single draft.

LSU’s six players drafted are just one fewer than the entire Big Ten Conference.

The rest of the Day 2 roundup:
• The Cincinnati Bengals chose North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard with the 37th pick. That’s the latest the first running back has been chosen in the Common Draft Era.

• Then Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o was selected 38th overall by the San Diego Chargers, the first Notre Dame linebacker to get picked in the first two rounds since Courtney Watson (to the New Orleans Saints) in 2004.

The last Fighting Irish linebacker to go as high as Te’o was Demetrius Dubose (34th to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) in 1993.

• With the next pick, the New York Jets chose West Virginia QB Geno Smith. The Jets had a 24.7 Total QBR last season, 2nd-lowest in the NFL (only the Arizona Cardinals were worse). Since drafting Mark Sanchez, the Jets have not finished a season ranked higher than 16th in Total QBR.

It’s the highest a West Virginia quarterback has ever been drafted.

A few things to note about Smith’s college experience:

1) He attempted more than 96 percent of his passes out of a shotgun or pistol formation in his career. Dana Holgorsen introduced Smith to the pistol in 2011, and he threw 42 touchdowns and four interceptions out of that formation.

2) He threw 177 of his 518 passes (34.2 percent) at or behind the line of scrimmage last season, including a BCS AQ-high 112 screen passes. As a result, Smith’s average pass traveled only 7.7 yards past the line of scrimmage, the fewest air yards per attempt of any top QB prospect.

• Boise State has had six defensive backs drafted in the past seven years -- they had six drafted in the previous 40 years combined.

Since Chris Petersen took over as head coach in 2006, the Broncos have had eighth players selected in the first two rounds. Before 2006, Boise State had just two players ever chosen in the draft’s first two rounds.

• If we need more evidence that this is a passing league, there have been 16 cornerbacks selected and 11 wide receivers, the most of any position, and there have been nine safeties taken, tied for fourth-most.

• The 55 defensive players drafted is the most ever through three rounds.

• The 25 defensive backs taken is the most ever through three rounds.

• The six running backs is tied for the fewest through three rounds.

Top stats to know: 2013 NFL Draft

April, 24, 2013

USA TODAY Sports, Getty ImagesLuke Joeckel (left) or Eric Fisher (right) could be drafted first overall.
The first selections of the NFL Draft are just a day away. Here are our Top 10 overall stats to know on this year’s selections.

A lineman is likely No. 1
Luke Joeckel is primed to become just the fourth offensive lineman drafted first overall since the AFL and NFL held their first common draft in 1967. Each of the first three, Ron Yary in 1968, Orlando Pace in 1997 and Jake Long in 2008, made at least four Pro Bowl trips and were named 1st-team All-Pro a combined 10 times.

49ers will be a prominent factor, but will their draftees be prominent factors?
The San Francisco 49ers enter the draft with a league-high 13 picks and could become just the second team to make 13 or more picks in a draft in the last eight years, joining the 2010 Eagles. But the odds of any 49ers rookie making a major impact in 2013 are slim. The 49ers won the NFC last year despite getting only 12 games (and no starts) from their 2012 draft picks, both NFL lows.

Minimal skill position talent in top 10
The top of the 2013 draft class is expected to be heavy on linemen, with some draft experts projecting West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith as the only quarterback, running back or wide receiver to go in the top 10. The fewest offensive skill position players picked in the top 10 in the common draft era is one, done four times with the last in 1997. That year, it was all offensive linemen and defensive players before the Giants drafted WR Ike Hilliard seventh.

An Irish defender in the top 20
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o could become the first Notre Dame defensive player to go in the top 20 since defensive tackle Bryant Young was drafted seventh in 1994. From 1995-2012, 59 different schools have had more defensive players drafted in the top 20 than Notre Dame, including New Mexico, Tennessee State and Division II Kutztown (Pa.).

Top-10 trades are frequent
Is your favorite team picking at the back of the draft? Don’t wait to tune in, as the rookie salary scale has made top picks tradable again. In the two drafts with the rookie scale (2011-12), teams have made six trades involving top-10 selections, including five on the day of the draft. There were four trades of top-10 selections in the previous six drafts combined (2005-10).

Raiders have missed out on some good ones
The Oakland Raiders are slated to pick third overall after not having a first-round pick in 2011 and 2012. But Oakland hasn’t had much success in the first round in recent years, drafting the likes of Rolando McClain, JaMarcus Russell, Fabian Washington and Robert Gallery, none of whom are currently with the team.

However, the players drafted with the pick AFTER McClain, Russell, Washington and Gallery have combined for 14 Pro Bowl selections. That would be C.J. Spiller, Calvin Johnson, Aaron Rodgers and Larry Fitzgerald.

The Raiders tend to like them fast
The Raiders have taken the player with the best 40-yard dash time in three of the last four drafts. From 2009-11, the Raiders selected Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford and Demarcus Van Dyke, all of whom were fastest in their combine class. Of those three, only Ford is still a Raider. Last year’s fastest player (cornerback Josh Robinson) was taken by the Vikings 29 picks before Oakland’s first selection. This year’s fastest player was Texas wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who ran a 4.27 40-yard dash at the combine.

NFC East teams could use help halting deep threats
All four NFC East teams were ranked in the bottom six in Total QBR on defending throws deeper than 15 yards downfield. Of the eight free agent secondary signings by NFC East teams so far, only Philadelphia’s Cary Williams (four) had more than two interceptions last year.

The NFC East has the NFL’s touchdown leader (Tony Romo, 14) and completion percentage leader (Robert Griffin III, 55.7 percent) on throws at least 15 yards downfield. Eli Manning also had 22 plays of at least 30 yards on those throws, tied for second most in the league.

The Cardinals have many needs
How bad was it in Arizona last season? Four different quarterbacks had at least 50 dropbacks for the Cardinals, the most of any team. The Cardinals were the only team in 2012 without a receiving touchdown by a tight end. The Cardinals’ offensive line allowed ball carriers to be hit in the backfield on a league-high 22.4 percent of rushes, and none of the four Arizona backs with at least 50 rushes gained more yards per rush after contact thanthe league average (1.6). The Cardinals added Carson Palmer and Rashard Mendenhall this offseason.

Broncos could use Manning protection
The Broncos ranked 25th in the league with a 3.8 yards per rush average last season. Peyton Manning was sacked every 29.7 dropbacks last season, best among qualified quarterbacks, but four of the seven Broncos linemen with at least 250 snaps have had surgery since October and another (center Dan Koppen) is an unrestricted free agent. Only guard Louis Vasquez has been added so far in free agency to a Broncos’ line that could seek reinforcements at the draft.

Top things to know: NFL Draft depth

April, 19, 2013
With the NFL Draft looming, here’s a look at the top things to know related to depth at notable positions.

QB class lacking a megastar
There have been four quarterbacks taken in the first round of the NFL Draft each of the last two seasons. This year, Geno Smith is the top-rated quarterback in the class, but he has the lowest Scouts Inc. grade (91) of any top quarterback in the last nine seasons.

QB class has lots of shotgun/pistol experience
The NFL is trending toward spread tendencies, but the average NFL quarterback still attempted less than two-thirds of his passes after taking a snap from shotgun last season.

Four of the top quarterbacks in this draft class -- Landry Jones, Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib, and EJ Manuel -- attempted at least 88 percent of their pass attempts last season from either a shotgun or pistol formation.

Lacy leads a light-RB class
Eddie Lacy is the only running back projected to go in the first round by both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay. This would mark only the second time since 1985 that only one running back was drafted in the first round. It also happened in 2011.

In fact, since 2005, every NFL Draft but the 2011 one has had a running back drafted within the top 12 picks.

Lacy is the top running back prospect of the 2013 class according to Scouts Inc., but he was the beneficiary of one of the top offensive lines in football. Lacy gained 65 percent of his yards before initial contact and averaged 4.1 yards before contact per rush.

Receivers with lots of different skills available
An average of three wide receivers have been drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft over the last five seasons. Mel Kiper’s most recent mock draft has four. Todd McShay’s latest one has two.

Among the most notable leaders among wide receivers, Tavon Austin led AQ-school receivers with 947 yards after the catch, Terrance Williams led FBS receivers with 27 receptions on passes thrown 20 yards or longer, and DeAndre Hopkins and Stedman Bailey led FBS with 10 touchdown receptions on throws 20 yards or longer.

Teams looking for multi-purpose receivers should know that Austin and Cordarrelle Patterson were the only players in FBS with at least 300 rushing yards, 600 receiving yards and 500 return yards in 2012.

Tight ends that can go long
Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz highlight a tight end class with the ability to stretch the field vertically.

Eifert and Ertz combined for 45 receptions on passes thrown 15 yards or longer over the last two seasons, including five deep touchdowns.

A rich defensive draft
According to Scouts Inc., defensive players make up 19 of the top 32 overall prospects. Todd McShay’s latest mock draft has 12 defensive front seven players taken in the first round of the draft, one behind the 2011 and 1974 NFL drafts for the most in the common draft era.

A look at some of the collegiate leaders in some notable areas:

LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery had three sacks against a double team, most among the 35 defensive FBS prospects rated 80 or higher.

Among the top-10 defensive end prospects as rated by Scouts, Inc., Florida State's Bjoern Werner had the most sacks on a standard pass rush (12) and Georgia's Jarvis Jones had the most from a blitz (7).

Purdue's Kawann Short led all FBS defensive tackle prospects rated 70 or higher with seven sacks and 13 run stuffs last season. A “run stuff” is a tackle on a rushing play that ends up in negative or zero yardage.

What pros/cons come with Geno Smith

April, 4, 2013
Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesWhen the smoke clears, what will become of Geno Smith?

Jon Gruden will be doing his Quarterback Camp with Geno Smith at 8:30 p.m. ET tonight on ESPN2.

To give you something to think about as you watch, here is an in-depth breakdown of Smith’s greatest strengths and some team-specific concerns about him from a statistical perspective.

Greatest Strengths


Smith completed 71.2 percent of his passes last season, including 42 touchdowns. Smith threw just six interceptions in 518 pass attempts and did not throw an interception in his first 272 pass attempts of the season.

Smith was particularly effective on short passes. He attempted half of his passes within five yards of the line of scrimmage, including an AQ-high 112 screen passes last season.

On passes of this distance, Smith completed 82.6 percent with 15 touchdowns and no interceptions.

In comparison to recent top QBs, Smith completed a similar percentage of his passes in his final year of college, but it is important to note that his average pass traveled more than a yard shorter than all of those quarterbacks listed in the chart above.

Poise in the Pocket

Smith completed 70.8 percent of his passes when opponents sent five or more pass rushers last season, the highest completion percentage against the blitz of Scouts Inc.’s top eight QB prospects.

Smith was able to exploit blitzing defenses in much the same way that Robert Griffin III did in his final season of college. Griffin III went on to lead the NFL with a 96.8 Total QBR against the blitz.

Further, Smith was sacked 19 times in 571 dropbacks last season. He was able to scramble for 253 yards when forced out of the pocket as well as complete 49.5 percent of his passes when under duress (avg FBS quarterback completed only 40 percent).

Ball Placement

West Virginia gained 2,459 yards after the catch last season, most of any school in an AQ conference. While the Mountaineers had one of the best receiving duos in the nation in Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, a lot of their success was due to Smith’s ball placement.

The Mountaineers averaged 6.5 yards after the catch per reception and gained at least five yards after the catch on 44 percent of their receptions last season.

To put that into perspective, Baylor averaged 6.3 yards after the catch per reception while running a similar offense with Griffin at quarterback.

Team-Specific Concerns

Under Center Snaps

Smith attempted over 96 percent of his passes out of a shotgun or pistol formation in his career.

The NFL is trending towards more spread tendencies, but the average NFL quarterback still attempted over a third of his passes after taking a snap from under center.

Zone-read Running

Teams looking for the next zone-read quarterback may be lured by Smith’s 4.59 40-yard dash at the combine. Yet, Smith attempted only 11 designed rushes in 2012 and averaged 2.5 yards per rush on those carries.

Smith is adept at taking snaps and passing from a pistol formation – the primary formation used for zone reads – but has not shown the ability to run out of the formation.

Since West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen introduced Smith to the pistol in 2011, Smith has thrown 42 touchdowns and four interceptions out of that formation. He improved his completion rate from 63 percent in 2011 to nearly 72 percent last season.

Note that just because Smith did not run does not mean that he cannot run. Smith scrambled for 253 yards and averaged 7.2 yards per scramble in 2012.


Smith’s final college game came in snowy Yankee Stadium in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. The lasting image for many will be Smith struggling in that game with one fumble lost and two plays resulting in safeties.

Over the last two seasons, Smith has fared worse in cold weather than in mild weather.

In the seven games that he played against AQ opponents where the temperature was 50 degrees or colder at kickoff, he completed less than 65 percent of his passes and turned the ball over at a higher rate than in games when the temperature was above 50 degrees.

Stats to know: West Virginia vs Syracuse

December, 28, 2012
Tim Heitman/US PresswireGeno Smith will try to close out his season with a Pinstripe-Bowl win.
Five stats to know on the New Era Pinstripe Bowl between the West Virginia Mountaineers and Syracuse Orange at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon (ESPN, 3:15 ET)

1. Expect a busy scoreboard in this one. West Virginia is seventh nationally in scoring and has gone over 40 points six times this season. The Mountaineers needed to in order to balance out a poor defense that allowed over 38 points per game and ranks 114th in FBS.

2. West Virginia has allowed 63 completions of 20 yards or longer this season, the most in a season in the last four years. Syracuse led the Big East with 49 completions of 20-plus yards and have at least one such completion in every game this season.

3. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith is 0-2 in his career as a starter against Syracuse. In both starts, Smith completed less than 60 percent of his passes and threw at least two interceptions.

Added defensive pressure was a big reason why Smith struggled. He completed 45 percent of his passes and had three interceptions when the Orange sent five or more pass rushers.

That matches Smith’s interception total against the blitz in his 36 other games as a starter.

4. Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey lead all receiving duos with 35 receiving touchdowns, 216 receptions and 2,760 receiving yards this season.

They have been targeted on 55 percent of West Virginia’s pass attempts and have gained over two-thirds of the Mountaineers’ receiving yards.

Austin has 909 yards after the catch this season, most among players from AQ schools.

5. Syracuse started 2-4 in its first six games, committing 15 turnovers and only forcing five. In its last six games, the Orange committed only five turnovers and forced 14.