The fallout from Geno Smith’s round one free-fall continues.
Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal reports that Smith, the 39th overall pick in the draft, has parted ways with his agents at Select Sports Group. After the five-day waiting period expires, Smith will be free to hire new representation.
Upon hearing the news, we assumed that the agents hadn’t properly prepared Smith for the possibility that he wouldn’t be selected in the first round. Given that the most important job for any agent in the weeks preceding the draft is to properly set the client’s expectations, failure to hammer into Smith’s head the chance that he’ll spend all of Thursday night in the green room at Radio City Music Hall would be enough to prompt a change.
But that’s not what happened, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Per Mehta, Smith fired his agents because he believed he “would be and should be” the first overall pick in the draft. Surely, the agents weren’t telling Smith he would be the first pick in the draft.
If that’s what Smith believed, he either didn’t listen to his agents, or he chose to listen to someone else more. (Smith has since told SiriusXM NFL Radio that the decision had nothing to do with the draft process. He declined to elaborate.)
Agents have only limited influence over a player’s draft stock, even though some agents try much harder than others to improve it. Ultimately, Smith ended up being the 39th overall pick because the teams took other players with the first 38, due to needs or perceptions or whatever.
While it’s possible that the agents could have persuaded another team selecting higher than 39 to take Smith, the notion (if true) that Smith thought he “would be and should be” the first overall pick suggests that Smith simply ignored whatever he was being told about the fact that the Chiefs weren’t going to take him at No. 1 and that no one else was trading up to do it — no matter how hard the Chiefs tried to generate interest by leaking the idea that they are “fascinated” by Smith.
Regardless of the reason for making a change, doing it in the immediate aftermath of the draft creates the impression that he did it in reaction to his failure to be drafted higher. And that means there’s now even more reason to believe that Smith will have a hard time handling adversity in the NFL and dealing with the intense scrutiny and criticism of the New York media.