2013 NFL Draft: Eagles work out Geno Smith
The coach, GM and owner of the Philadelphia Eagles were all present for Geno Smith's workout in Morgantown.
The Philadelphia Eagles' interest in Geno Smith isn't a surprise.
Sending a full contingent of team personnel, from coach Chip Kelly to general manager Howie Roseman and (pause for emphasis) owner Jeffrey Lurie -- that should pique the interest of Philadelphians. Pro Football Talk first reported the trio trekked to West Virginia.
West Virginia's Pro Day is Thursday, where Smith is scheduled to go through a scripted throwing session of 65-75 passes. The routine, by design, will showcase his accuracy and perhaps go an extra step to confirm the athleticism that surprised many at the Combine, when Smith posted a 4.56 40.
Eyebrows were raised because Smith, who ran the "Air Raid" offense popularized by Texas Tech during Mike Leach's reign in Lubbock, was widely labeled a pocket passer.
Kelly's offense won't mandate speed at the quarterback position, he said last month, but mobility and ball-handling help in a system run at a frenzied pace.
Rapid execution, on-the-fly reaction and poise in a system that ran a play about every 15 seconds -- most no-huddle teams are in the 18-20 range; Kelly was racking up 40-plus points a game at Oregon -- are most critical. Whether a rookie can be ready to do that or not falls on the shoulders of Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who started a rookie in Cleveland last season. (But Brandon Weeden ran an offense that was more of a knife-and-reamer equivalent to Kelly's five-speed juicer.)
There is no quarterback of the future on the Eagles roster, and Philadelphia knows the question must be addressed.
Michael Vick will be 33 and durability concerns are legitimate. His eight snaps and two injuries in training camp, previous rib injuries and 2012 concussion are top-of-mind matters for Roseman and Lurie.
More than Smith, Florida State's EJ Manuel and Arizona's Matt Scott, who created buzz at the combine and continued rising with a stellar pro day last week, are more natural fits in Kelly's offense.
But what will the NFL iteration of the stun-and-gun look like? Kelly admitted the playbook is too plentiful right now and will be pared down significantly. Could he remodel to the extent that the pistol formation and spread sets are crafted to emphasize the strengths of Smith? Considering his reputation as in innovator and whiteboard wizard, we like Kelly's chances.
Consider the system adaptation that occured in Washington last season. Robert Griffin III's Baylor roots were everywhere in what had been a dyed-in-the-wool West Coast offensive scheme Mike Shanahan said he has carried for decades. By the end of the 2012 season, there were only traces of those principles.
Kelly wants the ball out of the quarterback's hand quickly. That's a drill he'll need Vick to master. Smith already knows it, and there's enough receiver talent in tow for him to make the transition quickly. Nick Foles might be 6-foot-6, but he's accurate on short and intermediate throws and moved pretty well within the pocket.
For more NFL draft news and analysis, follow Jeff Reynolds on Twitter at @ReynoldsJD.
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