It's not breaking news that there isn't an Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III type of quarterback prospect in this draft class. But does the success of those first-year players in the NFL elevate the expectations of this year's crop of quarterbacks? West Virginia's Geno Smith thinks so.
“Those guys changed expectations for many quarterbacks, let alone rookies,” Smith said. “Those guys stepped right in and were leaders, most [of them] from Day 1. And that's one thing I took from it. No matter what age difference, where you come from or what pick you are when you're taken for that role as a quarterback in the NFL, you have to lead by example. That's the thing all those guys did.”
Smith is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 1 ranked quarterback for April's draft and is considered a strong possibility for the Kansas City Chiefs with the No. 1 overall pick. If he is chosen with that top pick, he will be compared to quarterbacks taken that high in the past, fair or not. And with expectations come big responsibility. But Smith says he's not worried.
“I don't feel any pressure,” Smith said. “I'm totally confident in my abilities. I'm not cocky or trying to say I'm this all-world player right now because I have many areas where I need to grow. But I do feel like I have a great, tremendous skill-set and that I have an opportunity to showcase that. And it's something I look forward to.”
Smith finished the 2012 season with 4,205 passing yards and an impressive touchdown-to-interception ratio of 42-to-6, numbers that are very similar to Luck's and Griffin's from their final years in college. But the NFL wants winners and leaders first and foremost, and the fact that the Mountaineers lost six of their final eight games in 2012 after such a hot start raises questions.
Regardless of the NFL expectations, Smith has next-level skills. And he believes that he has the leadership to match what last year's special group of rookie quarterbacks accomplished.
“They set the bar very high,” Smith said. “I want to be one of those guys that steps in and does the same thing.”