As far as I can tell, two schools of media thought have developed on West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith: Nonsensical, almost borderline racist ramblings, and compensatory gushing.
What if the truth is more mundane?
What if Smith is a good quarterback with a chance of being a good NFL quarterback, and he has been elevated to another (perhaps unwinnable) stratosphere in this NFL Draft because there is nobody else.
Because this first round is decidedly unsexy.
Because there is no Andrew Luck or RG3.
Because teams always reach for quarterbacks, always, always, always do.
If Brandon Weeden is a first-round pick, then I can be a first-round pick, and certainly so can Geno Smith.
Smith has been projected by these copycat mock drafts to go as high as No. 3 to Oakland, which is a possibility despite the Raiders trading for Matt Flynn. This is, after all, Oakland where the Ghost of Al Davis still may overrule all logic on draft day. And if Smith does not go there, Philly, Cleveland, Buffalo and the NY Jets all have been mentioned as possible landing spots.
Not only would I not draft him, I wouldn’t draft him with someone else’s pick.
And not for the aforementioned nonsensical, almost borderline racist reasons argued by Pro Football Weekly draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki recently. He had a bit about how Smith "does not command respect from teammates and cannot inspire," how he is "not committed or focused," how he "cannot handle hard coaching," how he is "not a student of the game" or exactly what coaches like Chip Kelly of the Eagles have NOT described when talking about Smith.
Almost every coach and personnel guy has talked about being impressed with how the kid from West Virginia interviews, and with how he looks in workouts. The motivation to lie is always there with the draft; to gush less so. None were within spitting distance of Nawrocki’s takedown comparison to, of course, mostly failed black quarterbacks.
"A cross between Akili Smith and Aaron Brooks," Nawrocki wrote, "Smith is a gimmick, overhyped product of the system lacking the football savvy, work habits and focus to cement a starting job and could drain energy from a QB room. Will be overdrafted and struggle to produce against NFL defensive complexities."
This sounds very much like being guilty of QWB, quarterbacking while black. This is annoying on so many levels, starting with the very small, minute detail of how we only compare black athletes to black athletes and white to white. There are also the very subjective criticisms on immeasurables like savvy, habits and the always (and by always I mean never) talked about energy-in-the-quarterback-room factor. All of these have a tendency to be buzz words, hiding a bigger bias and this hardly applies to only writers.
Of course, this leads to an equally absurd overreaction.
It is not racist or even wrong to say Smith is likely to be overdrafted. He is not the third-best player in the draft. I am not sure he is the third-best quarterback in the draft, but that is an opinion and is debatable. The problem is that spot comes with expectations; the No. 3 player in the draft is expected to start immediately, win in rather short order and propel his franchise to a certain level. And while Geno Smith is not Akili Smith, he is also not Luck or RG3. This is almost as unfair as saying he is doomed to fail because he is not going to bring the funk in the quarterback room.
He can be capable and overdrafted. He can have potential and not be worthy of a No. 3. He can be a reach without being Akili Smith.