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Kiper: Smith has 'live arm'

Posted Apr 10, 2013

ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. believes West Virginia’s Geno Smith could be a “very, very good” starting quarterback in the NFL.

Geno Smith’s 8,590 passing yards and 73 touchdown passes during his final two years at West Virginia University confirmed that he could be a “very, very good” quarterback in the NFL, according to ESPN Draft Analyst Mel Kiper, Jr.

“I like the fact that he can spin the ball,” Kiper said. “He’s got the live arm. He can make any throw you want. He’s mobile; he can beat you with his legs; he can run and pick up significant yardage. He’s a kid that seems like he’s going to work hard at his craft.”

During his career, the 6-foot-3, 208-pound Smith completed 988 attempts for 11,662 yards and 98 touchdowns against 21 interceptions. He had a touchdown-to-interception ratio of nearly 5-to-1, and threw a scoring pass on 6.7 percent of his attempts.

As a senior in 2012, Smith completed 369 of 518 attempts for 4,205 yards and 42 touchdowns against six interceptions. He completed at least 30 passes in seven of West Virginia’s 13 games last season. His high-water mark came when he completed 45 of 51 attempts for 656 yards and eight touchdowns against no interceptions in a 70-63 win over Baylor on Sept. 29.

Despite Smith losing fumbles when the pocket collapsed, Kiper believes he could be a difference-maker for an NFL team.

“Ball security was an issue,” Kiper said. “He’s got to take better care of the football. He can’t have fumbles in the pocket. He’s got to be more precise with the football, but I thought he hit his guys in stride at West Virginia. He gave them a chance to do a lot after the catch, which impressed me. Some of the other quarterbacks did not. He reads the whole field, which I like. He’s not just reading half the field. He’s the kind of guy that if handled properly, could be a very, very good NFL starting quarterback.”

MAKING THE MOVE

Kiper believes the Browns are in a position to trade out of the No. 6 spot and drop to later in the first round should they desire to move down and gain extra picks.

“They’re going to have some great opportunities to move down because that pick is going to represent either possibly Eric Fisher, the left tackle from Central Michigan or Lane Johnson, the left tackle from Oklahoma,” Kiper said. “That’s going to be a valuable pick that somebody’s going to want. I think they could move down. There’s no corner to take after Milliner at pick No. 6. I don’t think there’s a corner to consider until you get into that 19-area. That’s the first time I would consider a corner, that 19 to 32 range is where I think you’re going to see two, to three, to four corners come off the board.”

SCOUTING THE SEC

With four schools in the Southeastern Conference, Florida (2006 and 2008), LSU (2007), Alabama (2009, 2011-12) and Auburn (2010), combining to win the past seven National Championship games, Kiper said the players get “a lot of publicity” and attention.

“You see this (draft) dominated by Texas A&M, who was new to the SEC; you’ve got Florida; you think about what Alabama does year-after-year, LSU year-after-year,” Kiper said. “There’s really no way around it. The SEC’s won all these national championships in a row for a reason. A lot of great players are produced by those schools, and you evaluate them as individuals. You really don’t worry about that other stuff.”

SIMON IMPRESSES WITH MOTOR

During his final two seasons at Ohio State, defensive lineman John Simon proved to be a solid pass-rusher. He registered seven quarterback sacks in 2011, and followed it up with nine more in 11 games as a senior last fall.

After finishing his career at Ohio State, the 6-foot-2 Simon underwent a position change and switched to outside linebacker in preparation for the 2013 Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine.

“I like the way he plays the game,” Kiper said. “He’s got a lot of versatility, plays with energy. I think you look at John Simon and think early-to-mid third round. He’s kind of like Mike Vrabel. When Mike Vrabel came out of Ohio State and had a nice career in the NFL. He can play on his feet; he can play as a down end. He gives you some scheme-versatility. He’s a great kid, a tremendously hard worker, (has) great passion for the game.”