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Geno Smith Comparables

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Almost everything I write focuses on the idea that there are always a range of potential outcomes.  There is no such thing as a predetermined destiny for any NFL prospect and in fact even the same player can have a range of outcomes over the course of their career.  Anybody that thinks that certainty can be baked into a draft eval will have a tough time explaining the career of Eli Manning.  In any case, addressing this idea of a range of outcomes is why I spend so much time looking at player comparables.  Player comps are an immediate illustration that similarity does not equal destiny.

To establish a set of comparables for Geno Smith, I did what I usually do, which is measure Geno’s stats vs. players over the last 10 years looking at the difference in their stats in terms of cumulative absolute distance.  Once I had a list of 15 players whose numbers were comparable, I threw out all of the players who weren’t first round picks.  That allowed me to add another measure of similarity into the equation because in addition to looking at box score numbers, I’m not also looking at players that NFL teams viewed as being worthy of a first round pick.

Unless otherwise noted, numbers are from the player’s final college season.

NAME School Season G CMP% PYDS TD INT Y/A Career G Career YDS Career TD/INT
Geno Smith West Virginia 2012 13 0.71 323.46 3.23 0.46 8.12 44 11662 4.67
NAME School Season G CMP% PYDS TD INT Y/A Career G Career YDS Career TD/INT
Philip Rivers North Carolina State 2003 13 0.72 345.46 2.62 0.54 9.30 49 13484 2.79
Andrew Luck Stanford 2011 13 0.71 270.54 2.85 0.77 8.71 38 9430 3.73
Matt Leinart Southern California 2005 13 0.66 293.46 2.15 0.62 8.85 39 10693 4.30
Ben Roethlisberger Miami (OH) 2003 14 0.69 320.43 2.64 0.71 9.06 38 10829 2.47
Brady Quinn Notre Dame 2006 13 0.62 263.54 2.85 0.54 7.34 48 11762 2.44
David Carr Fresno State 2001 13 0.65 330.69 3.23 0.54 9.03 26 7849 3.33
Eli Manning Mississippi 2003 13 0.62 276.92 2.23 0.77 8.16 43 10119 2.31
Brandon Weeden Oklahoma State 2011 13 0.72 363.62 2.85 1.00 8.38 30 9260 2.78

Here are my thoughts on the list:

  1. I agree with Jon Moore that teams that need a QB have some options to trade for one and probably lower their risk a little either because they’re getting a guy for cheaper than a top five pick, or because they’re getting a guy with pro experience already, or both.
  2. Having said that, out of the 8 names on this list, 4 of them were solid (at least) multi-year starters in the NFL.
  3. If we added arm strength to the equation, I wonder if we might not be able to eliminate several names from this list, like Quinn and Leinart.  Leinart always struck me as a good decision maker on the field, but also aware that he couldn’t make throws to challenge a defense.  Brady Quinn has been a disaster as a pro.
  4. Two of the more successful names on the list, Roethlisberger and Rivers, weren’t asked to carry an offense immediately.  Rivers got to sit for a year behind Brees, and Roethlisberger threw for 187 yards/game in his rookie season.
  5. Brandon Weeden’s rookie year may have been bad, but it was also not significantly worse than Roethlisberger’s third year in the league, when Big Ben 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.  So I guess I would withhold judgment on Weeden until we’ve seen more than one year of results.  In addition, Weeden’s best receiver was a 2nd round supplemental draft pick.

I think if I were an NFL team and thought that I could put all of the pieces around Smith to allow him to succeed, I would think about drafting him in the part of the draft that it looks like he will go.  But I would not take him if I had a bunch of needs, of which QB was just one.  For instance, I don’t see the point in Oakland taking Smith at 4, given that their roster is a grease fire.  But I do think that ARI at 7 makes a little more sense.  Smith could play for Bruce Arians, who has coached two other names on Smith’s comps list.  ARI also has a decent defense so maybe the offense wouldn’t have to win every game, and ARI has also at least invested in receivers (although they’re probably wildly overpaying Fitz and they also probably overpaid for Michael Floyd in the draft).

It’s tough to say now whether or not Smith will last past the first three picks.  Given the amount of attention that he’s received lately, it certainly looks like either a team will take him in the top 3, or teams are just hyping their interest in order to game another team into trading up.

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