Monday, April 22, 2013

Making the Case: Geno Smith Over Eric Fisher

Calm down, I'm not saying the Eagles should draft Geno Smith over Eric Fisher, should Fisher drop to them at four. I'm making the case as to why this move isn't completely absurd.

After taking to Twitter to gauge the predictions of Eagles fans, the consensus picks are Dion Jordan, Eric Fisher or Lane Johnson. Only one fan mentioned Geno Smith and his words were, "Unfortunately... Geno Smith." So it's safe to say the majority of Eagles fans would cringe if Roger Goodell uttered Smith's as the pick.

But let's play a little devil's advocate. If, indeed, Geno Smith is the guy Chip Kelly covets, I'll give reasons as to why Eagles fans shouldn't resort to alcoholism.

1. Quarterback is the most important position in the game.

Geno Smith may not be the prospect RGIII or Cam Newton was coming out of college, but the guy has some impressive skills. While Chip Kelly isn't likely to take his Oregon offense and force it into the NFL, his creativity will surely follow. An athlete like Smith would provide Kelly the luxury to dial up some read-option offense, which gives the defensive coordinator a reason to lose sleep at night. Smith's 4.59 second 40-yard dash matched Cam Newton's and barely missed Colin Kaepernick's and Russell Wilson's.
Smith threw 42 TDs vs. 6 INTs
behind a shaky OL in 2012.

Smith also has an NFL arm, he's able to zip the 15-yard out without hesitation. His release is quick and he can deliver accurate balls to all levels of the field with surprising touch. West Virginia does run a college-style spread offense, but Colin Kaepernick had a very similar criticism coming out of Nevada. Kaepernick also had mechanical issues with his wind-up delivery. Similarly, Smith has sloppy footwork at times that leads to inconsistency.

Plus, with Michael Vick in place, the West Virginia quarterback could develop for year one. The Eagles could possibly trade down to around number 10 if possible and still nab Smith, while piling up more picks. Nick Foles would also become a Day Two trade-able piece, maybe resulting in even more picks.

2. Is Left Tackle a premier position everybody thinks?

The Baltimore Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII with Bryant McKinnie as their starting Left Tackle, who can't even find a job only a couple months later. The New York Giants won two Super Bowls with David Diehl as LT, who wasn't really a top-15 player at his position during either season. The Packers won their most recent Super Bowl with 34-year-old Chad Clifton.

Obviously the blind-side protector is important. But is it really the premier position everybody makes it out to be. I wouldn't say Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning or Joe Flacco are below-average players like their back-side blockers were.

3. The tackle class has more depth than the quarterback class.

The only other QBs I could see as potential franchise players are EJ Manuel and Ryan Nassib. Both of whom could be off the board by pick number 35. If Geno Smith is viewed by Chip Kelly as a future franchise quarterback, then he may be the only viable option.

Players like Menelik Watson, Terron Armstead, Kyle Long and Justin Pugh are more likely to be available in the second round, and all have athletic traits that translate well in a Chip Kelly scheme. Does the depth at tackle take a little bit of the value away from Fisher and Lane Johnson?

4. Is Geno Smith much more of a risk than Fisher or Johnson?

A record combine for the Oklahoma
tackle boomed his stock upwards.
Taking Geno Smith at number four is a big risk, no doubt about it. It seems analysts and fans are awarding Fisher and Johnson as slam dunks, but each prospect comes with their own set of question marks.

Eric Fisher is a Central Michigan product who didn't face the competition that other top prospect Luke Joeckel did at Texas A&M. He was a projected mid-first round pick prior to the Senior Bowl, but a strong showing catapulted him up the ranks. Senior Bowl stars don't always translate to NFL stars.

Lane Johnson has little experience at the tackle position. An unbelievable combine shot a late-first round pick up inside the top 10. Johnson is a gifted athlete, but combine stars are even more of a risk than Senior Bowl studs. On tape, Lane Johnson is not a top four pick. Based on potential, he is.

Bottom line, all three players come with risk, Fisher with less than the other two. But Geno Smith carries the most reward, franchise quarterbacks are vital in the NFL.

Do I think Geno Smith will be the Eagles pick at number four? No. Would I resort to alcoholism if he is? No.
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Follow me on Twitter @Matt_Chastain25 and @OfficialEagles_, I'll get you back!

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