Jon Gruden declaring that a guy is great is hardly anything new. Anyone who watches his work on Monday Night football will be very familiar with him in every game declaring multiple guys the best in the NFL at whatever they are doing.
But somewhere inside Gruden there is a real talent evaluator, you just have to look through the fluff. Granted, that's tough to do in his now annual "Gruden's QB camp" where he mostly just slobbers over every notable QB prospect in the upcoming draft.
The first up for praise this year was Geno Smith. Primarily, Gruden focused on his decision making, which he says is quite good. He noted that the West Virginia offense gave Smith a lot of options to change things up pre snap, a responsibility he will have in the NFL.
Gruden concluded that since a QB is the most important position to settle on your team, he would take Geno with the top pick in this draft. Even considering that he wouldn't have been at the top of last year's draft class.
I answer that by considering where he is not in every draft, but for this class specifically. In this class, I definitely think he's a guy you could take at No. 1, or at least in that range if it's your top need. Sure, a lot of people say he's not as good as Andrew Luck or Griffin. Well, last time I checked, those guys aren't in this draft. It's supply and demand. In this league, you need a quarterback, and if you're a general manager or a coach you can't just operate with the idea you're content to wait until you're in the perfect position to take a can't-miss prospect. In this class, the closest thing to that is Smith. And if I needed a quarterback, I'd be willing to take him high.
I do agree with his point that you really can't wait for a QB because there's just too many factors that could prevent you from getting that guy and in the meantime if you aren't winning you're going to be out of a job.
Still, that's not really a reason to take Geno Smith in itself. The reason you take Geno Smith isn't because you need a QB and can't afford to wait, the reason you take Geno Smith is because you think he can be a franchise QB. In the end, what is more important that evaluation?
Like I said, most of Gruden's piece is fluff, but there was one interesting sidebar that made me take note. Actually I was interested that Smith threw more screen passes than any QB in this class.... But I really liked this bit about handling pressure.
Robert Griffin III led the NFL with a 96.8 Total QBR when facing five or more pass-rushers in 2012. Like Griffin, Smith excelled against extra pressure in his final year of college. In his final year at Baylor, Griffin completed 70.2 percent of throws against added pressure, with a 11-0 TD-to-INT ratio. Smith was at 70.8 percent with a 12-1 ratio in 2012.
I've always said that this is what truly separates QBs in this league. Yeah size matters, yeah arm strength matters etc... But the fact is that if you've made it to the NFL chances are you're at least good enough in those fundamental areas. And you're probably also good enough to pick apart an NFL defense if you're well protected and have good playmakers.
But the real star QBs in this league are the ones that make plays when things get uncomfortable... when things break down. That was always what held Kevin Kolb back. He's got good size, a nice arm, he's accurate and we've seen him put up big numbers when protected. But when things break down, Kolb's decision making and fundamentals fall apart.
All that said, does Gruden's endorsement mean anything to you? Are you at all swayed on Geno Smith?