West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith hopes he can work himself into the mix for the top pick, and he thinks he can adjust to any NFL system.
But he knows that things got tougher for him and the rest of the rookie class based on the success of last year’s quarterback class.
Asked Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine about the bar being raised by Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, Smith said it makes his job harder.
“Those guys changed expectations for many quarterbacks, let alone rookies,” Smith said. “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.”
Toward that end, Smith stressed his leadership and versatility. He’s not the mobile quarterback some people want to make him, but he thinks he could run some read-option if he was asked.
“I played in three different systems in college,” Smith said. “I’ve also played in the read-option system. I had to adapt because coming out of high school, I had no say in that system. So I had to adapt to it. I think that’s something I’ve always been capable of.
“I think I have the skill set that fits any offense. I can play within the pocket but I’m athletic enough to run that style of offense. . . .
“I have the ability to [run read-option]. I don’t think that’s my game. I don’t think my game is predicated around that. If a coach wants me to, I’ll definitely be all for it.”
While the nature of people crafting lazy comparisons will have them making Smith something he isn’t, he invoked Patriots quarterback Tom Brady when asked about his game.
“I’ve always watched Tom,” he said. “He’s always cool, calm and collected in the pocket, not the most athletic guy, but he makes subtle movements while keeping his eyes down the field and that’s something I try to incorporate.”
Of course, Smith has a long way to go before being compared to Brady, as getting past the Lucks and Griffins and Wilsons of the world will be hard enough.