The Case for Geno Smith in Philadelphia

Geno Smith Eagles

I can’t say I love the idea of the Eagles taking Geno Smith #4 overall, but we really need to prepare for the reality that Chip Kelly might just draft him there. Geno may be the definition of a boom or bust prospect. He has a lot of upside, but what makes Geno really intriguing is his intangibles. He is very skilled at operating an up tempo offense and reading defenses pre-snap to determine the correct play.

Forget what you think Chip Kelly’s NFL offense will look like, we know nothing more than Chip will run an efficient, versatile, run-oriented, up tempo offense that could thrive with a QB who could read defenses well. Kelly will most likely implement zone read looks into his offense, but will have to be a tad more conservative in the NFL. Geno Smith is capable of running the zone read in a limited capacity, well enough for a half dozen plays a game any way.

Geno is more athletic than people give him credit for. He actually has above average accuracy and at times can put the ball exactly where it needs to be. He can easily throw an accurate deep ball, but his pocket presence is what makes him a very promising young QB. He can feel pressure all around the pocket and adjust accordingly. Time and time again Geno will step up in the pocket to avoid pressure.

This is the case for Geno Smith in Philadelphia. I’m obviously looking at this as a glass half full situation. Best case scenario Geno’s chance of success in the NFL is still 50-50 and when you get right down to it that’s not much better than many draft prospects’ chances. This is only a problem because players picked in the top five are pretty often sure things.

I’d like to believe that a QB who has enough intangibles drafted into a decent situation with a decent surrounding cast will flourish most of the time. If Chip Kelly really believes that Geno is the perfect fit for his system and they could grow together as coach and quarterback, this could really be a match for the ages. If Chip Kelly believes Geno is his guy I can’t disagree with him.

I would actually be grateful to potentially have the QB problem solved so early in this Chip Kelly experiment. In a perfect world Chip would spend his first season grooming his franchise quarterback. Isn’t it counter-productive to install a system in year one, draft the quarterback in year two then spend all of year two breaking in the new QB, so by the time the crucial year three roles around maybe the new QB will feel comfortable and hopefully won’t have a sophomore slump? Now if that new QB is Johnny Manziel it might be worth dealing with, but you’re not guaranteed to get him.

I’m still inclined to believe that Chip Kelly has unexpected success in year one thanks to the lack of relevant game film on what he will do. So he couldn’t easily draft Manziel who likely goes in the top three picks of 2014. By the time year three comes, Chip Kelly’s Eagles need to be knocking on the playoff door with ease, and that means he really needs his future QB right now.

The point is that the argument for waiting until next year to draft a QB is in many ways valid, but it could seriously slow down the progress of Chip Kelly in the NFL. Of course if Geno turns into a bust it could ultimately halt Kelly’s progress in the NFL altogether. In the end, it all comes down to a 50-50 choice. Who is to say what the right thing to do is. The more I think about it, the more I want to put my faith in Kelly. I want him to draft Geno Smith so I can see what Kelly can do with him. Chip Kelly is a very good coach, just imagine the football knowledge he could pump into this kid’s already well rounded intellectual head. It could be a perfect marriage.

Of course if Kelly is so gifted he could do that with any QB, even EJ Manuel (who I still think goes in the top 20 picks). Maybe Arizona QB Matt Scott drafted in the 2nd or 3rd round is good enough to take the torch, but I’m inclined to think it’s this mentality of putting all your chips on 2nd tier QBs that ultimately makes teams fail. If Chip Kelly could put his knowledge into a QB that is physically gifted enough, there is much less chance of failure.

How often do you get a top 5 pick? How often will you have a chance to easily draft a potential franchise quarterback? Geno Smith is clearly not the best player available at #4 overall, but he just may be the best available quarterback and even if you don’t like the price do you really want to put all your chips on a QB picked in the 3rd round?

As positive as I would love to be about the potential drafting of Geno Smith, no piece of evidence is more damning for the potential success of Geno Smith than Andy Reid going out of his way to avoid drafting him by trading for Alex Smith in Kansas City. Say what you want about Andy Reid he knows a good quarterback when he sees one. As far as I’m concerned that’s all he was ever qualified to judge anyway. Reid may just feel pressure to win now, so he can’t put the time in to develop a young QB.

I have to believe anyone who chooses Alex Smith over a young talented QB does so begrudgingly; because the idea that a 29 year old game manager with no deep ball is a safer bet than a young talented QB with many intangibles just doesn’t make sense. That choice seems so cosmically ominous I almost hate to draft Geno now. Of course if there is any coach’s opinion that really matters here it isn’t Andy Reid’s opinion it’s Chip Kelly’s opinion and if Kelly believes Geno is the guy we have to take him.

Do you think Geno Smith can succeed in the NFL with Chip Kelly backing him? Do you think they could be a match for the ages? Is it really worth waiting a whole year to potentially get a better quarterback and delay the potential success even longer?

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