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Scouting Geno Smith with Stats
Geno Smith has generated a ton of controversy and has since the middle of the college football season. Is he worthy of the coveted first pick in the draft or is he a second round quarterback, as some contend. You can hear a lot about Smith, everyone has an opinion, and they’re all looking at the same game film. So instead of reading the scouting reports you’ll hear every day until the draft, I’m going to break down his game with statistics.
These stats are based off of me watching game film and writing down the factors that go into a play. I marked down where the ball was caught, what the formation was, why the ball was incomplete and many more factors. I’m not going to throw out any abstract stats, because there are good websites for that already. I am going to distill the stats into something that makes sense in football terms. I did something similar with last year’s QB class, so I’ll be referencing them often. Here we go.
Where Does He Throw the Ball?
This is always talked about a lot in the draft evaluation process. You’ll hear people saying that X quarterback only throws short passes or throws tons of deep balls. I’ve noted exactly where the receiver caught the ball, as to eliminate the yards after the catch skill of the wide-out.
- Geno throws a huge number of screens. Last year, the average quarterbacks threw screens 17% of the time. Smith threw screens on 30% of all his passes! Given that the success rate of screens is so high, that means his overall completion percentage is inflated.
- His throws are close to the line of scrimmage. In total, 45% of his passes (including screens) were thrown within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage.
- That of course means he’s not throwing many deep passes. Only 27% of Geno’s passes went further than 10 yards, compared to 37% for the average quarterback.
Now we know how much Smith throws to certain spots, but how well does he do it? If he’s not going deep much, but is throwing them accurately – it projects well to the NFL. However, if he’s only accurate on screen passes, maybe we should worry. As a note, I’ve taken drops out of all these completion percentages to create what I call the Perfect Receiver Rating (PRR). Thus, the overall completion percentages will be higher than what you can find in a standard box score.
What’s His Accuracy Like?
- Overall, his accuracy is excellent. Even though he’s throwing screens much of the time, he shows the ability to throw it well at almost all levels. His 83% completion percentage in the 1-5 yard zone is higher than the AvgQB (77%) and bests RGIII’s 77% as well.
- He throws the mid-range deep ball well. I’m always interested in a QB’s accuracy in the 11-20 yard range. That’s the NFL range you want to see from a prospect. Geno throws the 11-20 yard ball at a solid 64%. Higher than both Ryan Tannehill and Andrew Luck from the 2012 draft.
- His deep ball is so-so. Smith hits his man 20+ yards down the field 44% of the time. This is just below average, but is almost exactly the same as Tyler Wilson and Mike Glennon of this year’s class. It’s also higher than Ryan Tannehill’s 33% last year.
Mostly on overthrows to his wide receivers. 33% of his incompletions are overthrows. If we watch Geno, we can see a tendency to push the ball a little too hard to his wide receivers.
Where Are His Incompletions Coming From?
- There’s a good distribution on his incompletions. His incompletions across the board aren’t tied to one specific trait. We don’t see him throwing into single or double coverage too much. He’s not missing his wide receivers an abnormal amount. Overall that’s a good thing for Geno because it means we’re not seeing something particularly suspect, no ridiculously bad decisions or wild inaccuracy.
- His receivers don’t drop a lot of balls. You’d expect this given two of his receivers are potential draft picks in the first three rounds. The 6% drop rate is low among this and last year’s QB classes.
Are There Any Other Positives/ Red Flags?(Percentages are a function of all passing attempts)
- The average distance of his throws is very low. While I like that Smith can throw the majority of the zones with good accuracy, the fact that he wasn’t throwing deeper bothers me a little. Was it the system or his decisions? Either way, the average distance his pass traveled before being caught was 4.7 yards. That isn’t much different than what a good running back gets per carry. That compares to 6 yards for Tyler Wilson and 9.4 yards for Mike Glennon.
- He was inaccurate when operating under center. When lined up under center, Smith only completed 33% of his passes, compared to 81% when in shotgun. Granted he didn’t line up under center often and when he did, he often threw deep. Still, we have to wonder if that’s something that could follow him to the NFL.
- Smith was least accurate on 3rd Down. Both Glennon and Wilson’s completion percentages on third down were higher than on 1st and 2nd down. Geno however, only threw 60% on third down.
There’s a lot more to like with Geno Smith than the media makes out. From these stats, he doesn’t seem to have any elite factors working in his favor. His completion percentage is solid across all yardage and there’s no glaring problems with his incompletions. Do you want him to be the number one pick? I’m not sure, it depends on if you can get behind a solid passer who doesn’t put up elite stats in any particular category.
The joy of stats, unlike someone else’s film study, is you can look at the numbers and use them to help you make a conclusion for yourself. You can view the full extent of the statistics I pulled for Geno Smith here, including red zone yardage, yardage by quarter, and the rest of the charts.
**If you’ve liked this, you can follow me at Follow @NU_Gap. I have approximately one follower right now, since I just started this up. I do work pretty much every day breaking down prospects and I’ll be tweeting out interesting stats that I come across (today I found out Justin Hunter drops ~10% of his passes), future articles/breakdowns (Dysert, Nassib, Manuel post upcoming), or let you know when I post new things (hopefully a WR post soon) . Thanks a lot!
-Second Round Stats