If you go by his peers in the National Football League, the former West Virginia Mountaineer and current New York starting quarterback is worse than any other signal caller in the league.
In an ESPN Insider article Thursday, Mike Sando surveyed the opinions of eight general managers, two former general managers, four pro personnel evaluators, seven coordinators, two head coaches, two position coaches and a top league executive – quite a list, huh – to rank each starting quarterback from all 32 NFL franchises. The group rated on a scale of one, the best, to five, the worst, which saw Smith score a dismal 4.48 score among all of the quarterbacks in the league.
Here is what Sando said specifically about Smith in his article:
It’s too early to write off Smith. Some coaches in particular had a hard time placing any QBs in the fifth tier. To them, a Tier 5 QB would be a backup, not a starter.
“Would a five be an Akili Smith or JaMarcus Russell?” one coordinator asked. “I think the way Geno Smith played last year was close to that. He was a rookie and he struggled and some of his reads were poor, but I would give him a four.”
“He is young enough to make a move,” a pro personnel evaluator said.
There’s no doubt Smith had a rough rookie campaign for New York coming from West Virginia, throwing for a little more than 3000 yards with 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. But the worst quarterback in the NFL is a little farfetched when you see the five quarterbacks that came in above Smith on Sando’s list.
You will find Tennessee’s Ryan Fitzpatrick at No. 30, Cleveland’s Brian Hoyer at No. 29, Minnesota’s Matt Cassel at No. 28, Buffalo’s EJ Manuel at No. 27 and Jacksonville’s Chad Henne at No. 26 ranked above Smith.
Excluding fellow rookie Manuel, Smith already is a much better quarterback after just one year in the NFL than the 30 combined seasons of the four veteran quarterbacks on this list. He will just get better following the free agent moves and 2014 NFL Draft selections this offseason.
It starts with the offensive line that allowed Smith to be sacked a total of 43 times, which is tied for fifth most in the NFL with Carolina’s Cam Newton and only 15 from the most in the league.
New York resigned tackle Willie Colon to a second contract in as many years, added another tackle in Brenco Giacomini from Seattle and picked up yet another with Furman guard Dakota Dozier in the fourth round of the draft.
Smith also will have a crop of new weapons to throw to this year with the additions of receivers Erik Decker and Jacoby Ford from the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders, plus Jace Amaro and Jalen Saunders from Texas Tech and Oklahoma from the Big 12 Conference.
The combination of more offensive line protection and new receivers for Smith will his somewhat average stats jump to that of a true franchise quarterback that will get New York back into the playoffs and challenge the New England Patriots for the AFC East division.
If a similar list emerges this time next year, Smith will undoubtedly find himself much higher on another list of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks.