No potential Eagles draft pick has drawn as much debate as West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, arguably the top quarterback in the draft and one whom the Eagles hosted for a pre-draft visit and also drilled through a private workout at in Morgantown, W.Va. Of course, that visit was notable by Jeffrey Lurie’s inclusion.
Smith was the subject of criticism in a Pro Football Weekly scouting report, and opinions on him vary from potential franchise quarterback to a potential bust.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinions,” general manager Howie Roseman said Monday. “We do a lot of research and background on these guys. We trust our scouts. If we have any question about stuff that’s in our scouting reports or if something comes up, we look at it. We make sure that we spend the time investigating it, and that’s someone who has a lot of credibility and obviously he spent the time getting his resources in place to put out that guide. But when anything like that comes up we really trust the information that we have.”
It’s important to distinguish the different places the Eagles have seen Smith, because they gather different information each time. The goal from the private workout is different from the goal at the in-person visit, which is different from the meeting at the combine.
“You compare first the in-person workout compared to Pro Days. And Pro Days are scripted,” Roseman said. “So whatever you’re getting from them is something they worked out with either their personal trainer, or their coach, or at the school. When you get to go and work them out individually, they don’t know what we’re going to ask them to do. So they have to adjust on the fly in that situation. When you bring him in here, you can’t do anything on the field. So you’re just sitting with them, talking with them, getting a sense of who they are, how they adapt to this atmosphere. It’s kind of a different animal.”
Roseman, like almost all general managers, remains cryptic this time of year, especially when discussing players specifically. So he did not provide any sterling insight on Smith, but one interesting nugget is that the Eagles’ top three quarterbacks on their draft board have not changed spots from their pre-Senior Bowl rankings.
Criticism of this quarterback class is often told in comparison to previous classes – especially last season, when there were two expected franchise quarterbacks at the top of the draft, and a deep overall class.
Roseman pointed out that last season was an abnormal, and expectations must be tempered.
“When you look at last year, I think the expectations are out of whack on groups going forward because last year was a unique group,” Roseman said “When we look back at that group, I think it's going to be one people look at say was a rare opportunity in the NFL, certainly at the top when talk about those kinds of guys. Take out last year and compare it to other years it falls more in line.”
However, he’s also cognizant in the risk of drafting a quarterback at No. 4. It’s a significant investment with the pick and the position, and the wrong decision could set a franchise back. That’s why the Eagles must be convinced in Smith’s talent and potential if he is a serious candidate at No. 4.
"I’ll take it one step forward. You’re passing on a player that you think is going to be a really good player at a different position,” Roseman said. “Like anything in this draft, you want to be sure. You don’t want to take someone because you think.”