The Browns and the First Round: Geno Smith

We are less than a week from the NFL Draft, also known as the most important day of the year for your Cleveland Browns. With (another) new regime taking over the reigns and new schemes in place on both sides of the ball, it is crucial that Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi, Ray Farmer, Rob Chudzinski and the crew nail these three days. It all starts Thursday night with the primetime First Round. 

The Browns currently hold the sixth pick. Will they go with a defensive back? Could they turn to a pass rusher? Would they possible fortify the offensive line? Could they shock everyone and take an additional offensive weapon? Or maybe, just maybe, would they trade the pick to a team that wants to move up and snag one of those top offensive tackles?

From now until Thursday’s first round, a different member of the WFNY staff will take their look at one player in particular and tell you why the Browns, should they choose to, would go in this direction. 

hi-res-155371382_crop_exactThe Player: 

Name: Geno Smith
Position: Quarterback
School: West Virginia
Height: 6-2⅜
Weight: 218 lbs.
40-yard dash: 4.59 seconds

Whom he would replace: 

Brandon Weeden

Why he makes the most sense for the Browns:

Certain members of the new regime are on record stating that they felt the first-round selection of Weeden last spring was a mistake. Weeden, in 2012, had a season laced with rookie mistakes and sub-par efforts; he opened the season with a 5.0 passer rating in a should-have-been-won contest against the Philadelphia Eagles. While Weeden boasts a quality arm, his decision making is questionable at best. He often taps the ball with his off-hand and opts for the dump-off pass all too often. In 2012, batted pass attempts plagued the rookie, potentially signaling the inability to find windows against an NFL defensive line. Weeden‘s lack of mobility has forced him to sack himself on occasion, and that’s just downright embarrassing.

What the experts say about him: 

“Draft slot still a relative mystery, just because there are trades that could come into play. So while some teams stand out, I can’t assure the range. Best traits are great accuracy, ball placement and good pocket maneuverability and underrated athleticism. What I question is whether you can draft him with the certainty that he’ll start and improve your QB situation immediately.” — Mel Kiper Jr

“I don’t have a true first-round grade on Smith, and I don’t feel great about slotting him anywhere in the top 10. But we all know the drill — quarterbacks will get bumped up the board come April 25, and Smith is likely to be the first quarterback off the board. …  If he’s still on the board at No. 10, that’s when things would get interesting because there isn’t a team with a pressing need at QB until we circle back around in Round 2.” — Todd McShay

“Maintaining poise and patience vs rush in pocket, Smith does not panic when pressured. He has consistently shown a willingness to throw the ball away to avoid pressure and will not force passes into bad spots. Nimble and quick footed, Smith moves easily within the pocket to avoid pressure and can escape pocket when needed. Not only can Smith put the ball down and make big plays running with the ball, but he shows the body control and coordination to make accurate throws on the move even when he cannot re-set his feet. While Smith does not have rare arm strength, he definitely has a strong arm to make every NFL throw with ease. He has shown the ability to make the far-side 15 yard out throw with excellent zip without setting feet and striding into throw. Although his throwing motion is not pretty or consistent, he has consistently shown the quickness to get rid of the ball fast on quick hitting passes. Similar to Andrew Luck and RGIII, Smith is exceptionally smart with great intangibles/character and work ethic.” — Sports Illustrated

“Though Smith has had his ups and downs as a passer in West Virginia’s prolific spread offense, NFL general managers appreciate his ultra-competitive nature, athleticism, arm strength and quick delivery. The Mountaineer turned down a Senior Bowl invitation after regressing in the second half of the season following a strong start. Smith’s eye level and pocket movement can be great, but he reverted back to staring down his first read. During his sophomore season, Smith played in an offense where he frequently took snaps from center, so he might have a leg up compared to some other prospects in that regard.” —

Chances the Browns will take Geno Smith: 

I believe the Browns are considering Smith, but this is rooted more in their lack of faith in Weeden than it does the player’s ability to take them to the promised land. There are rumors that Smith could be had if the team were to trade down, but there is now growing sentiment that the Jacksonville Jaguars or Philadelphia Eagles could be considering Smith at No. 2 or No. 4, respectively. Coupling all of this together with the fact that the team has glaring weaknesses on the defensive end, I will say that there is a 10 percent chance the Browns leave Day 1 of the draft with Geno Smith as their first-round selection.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    You just had to start here didn’t you Scott? I’ll remember this, oh how I’ll remember this! ;o(

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Smith is not the QB to lead your franchise particularly one who has basically failed since it’s return in 1999. The continued pattern of picking a QB in the first round, heck the first three rounds, needs to end. Instead improve the other areas (there certainly are more then a few positions needed) of the team while giving the QB who was just selected in round one a year prior a chance. At least one more year.

  • mgbode

    well, with Geno, you don’t have to worry as much about the sacks because he was top5 in fumbles every year he was a starter!

    (honestly though, Geno is a younger version of Weeden. What would be the point? EJ Manuel and Tyler Bray are different styles of QB, so I can at least understand drafting one of them)

  • Harv 21

    Would love for Smith to go in the top 5 – better chance that Jordan, Jones or Milliner are there for us.

    “Certain members of the new regime are on record stating that they felt the selection of Weeden last spring was a mistake.” Never heard this before – who said that? I know Lombardi as draft analyst said taking him at #22 overall was a panic move since he probably would have still been available with their second rounder. But that’s different.

  • Steve

    Give Shurmer and Holmgren a chance too, they need at least one more year. You need to cut your losses when you can. Weeden is not the answer, and the best way to get back to competitiveness in the NFL is to hit on the QB position in the draft.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Just keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and hope that in year 14 maybe this time will be different. New QBs, new head coaches, new owners why not.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I don’t think people actually watch these guys play not the ones who want a new QB every year. They buy into whoever is the flavor of the year as a possibility for the Browns QB.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Harv me too but it ain’t gonna happen. The teams who pick 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 hope Smith goes 6 lol.

    As far as the quote goes, beautiful. Hindsight is always 20-20 huh? One year is simply not long enough for me to forget the latest QB mishandling especially to prepare myself for what very well could be the next.

  • MrCleaveland

    We’re really good at drafting QBs in the first round. We’re just not very good at drafting good QBs.

    So what the heck, go ahead and grab Geno. And then next year we can grab Johnny Football. And the next year . . .

  • I watched just about every game he started in college, and I have no doubt he’s better than Weeden. I don’t think he’s an Andrew Luck-esque lock to be great, but the kid can play. I suspect some of his critics are only so because they didn’t pay attention to him at WVU, so he seems to them to have just appeared out of nowhere.

    If we had a second-round pick, I’d be ok with grabbing him at 6 overall. But I think getting a second rounder this year is crucial, so we will trade down, likely taking us out of the running for him.

  • mgbode

    I’m not so sure. He’s a little more mobile in the pocket (how can you be less?) but he is very fidgety under pressure (like Weeden). Plus, while Weeden had Blackmon, Smith had Austin & Bailey. And both played in the defense-optional BigXII.

    Both could make some really nice throws across the middle when given time. Geno tended to go to the sidelines more (which is a good thing).

    I’d have Geno ranked ahead of Weeden. But, not so much that he’s worth taking #6 overall to replace a guy we already have.

  • Kildawg

    Let some other team waste a pick on him. Washington wasted three first-rounders and a second on injury-prone Griffin, emphasized with them taking another QB in the 4th round. Give Weeden a chance under Chud and Norv. Look what Norv did with Aikman.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I know he was the darling of college football and then his team went into the tank. I know he was in an offense that was gimmicky (NFL seems to be headed that way) but who knows maybe he’ll be the next Cam Newton or RG3. I just don’t think he’s worth the risk is all. Not for a team who has had zero success in the QB area, a team with another new head coach and a new offense. For me the offense starts with Trent Richardson. Based on Norv Turner’s history which is one who uses RBs heavily I think TRich is the focal point. Because of this and far superior offensive coaching I feel like you can give Weeden another year. If he’s horrible then a year from now we can discuss everyone’s favorite topic of QB. I mean it’s not like anyone is expecting the Browns to make the playoffs or anything and if they did well then that will probably eliminate the QB discussions.

  • Steve

    So we’re clear, you’re on record for wanting Shurmer/Weeden again?

  • Steve

    The point would be that 22 year olds are likely to still have yet to reach their peak athletically, and will improve. The same can’t be said for 29 year olds, even at the QB position.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    It’s Shurmur not Shurmer but yes Steve you and your record caught me not only do I want Shurmur back but I want Holmgren and Lerner too! Btw I’m actually a Steelers fan disguised as a Browns fan sent to infiltrate Cleveland in order to learn what not to do as a professional franchise. But sssssshhhh, that’s our secret. Don’t tell anyone!

  • Steve

    Thanks for catching the mistake, that I was almost able to completely purge him from my memory totally undermines my point.

    The point is that you have to cut bait on these guys. I get wanting continuity, but you can’t stick with guys who are so clearly failing. At least Mangini showed at certain points that he might be able to right things. It was one disaster after another with the last regime.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I hated the Shurmur hire the day I heard it and everyone who reads this web site knows it. Oribasi and I took tons of hits for it and in the end we were right.

  • I’m all for another year of Weeden at this point, because our needs are so numerous. I think trading down is our best approach, to get more picks and hopefully more talent (*looks nervously at Mike Lombardi*). I’m just saying I wouldn’t hate going with Smith, because I believe he upgrades the position.

  • “Defense-optional” in reference to Big XII defenses might be a bit too complementary. No, as I said, he’s not my first priority at the 6 spot. But I wouldn’t kill the team for going that way, because it’s an improvement, even if we aren’t certain as to what degree so.

  • mgbode

    that’s fair (even if I disagree that high).

    and the WVU v. Baylor game last year was the most ridiculous game I have ever seen. A true “whoever has the ball last” game.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Yea I don’t know it’ll be interesting to see what happens. Don’t get me wrong I don’t hate Smith I agree with everyone who says he’s probably better then Weeden I just don’t know if that is enough to warrant using a #6 pick or really any first round pick.

    I love Milliner. The possibility of him and Haden together along with the improved DL is nice. That being said improving the OL with one of those stud guards would be nice. Heck another young dynamic pass rushing/outside LB would be nice as well. As you said the Browns needs are still numerous so why create/enhance/start a QB controversy for a team that at best may win 6-7 games if they exceed all of our expectations?