Signs not-so-good for Smith in Green Bay.

Signed last month to a bargain-basement contract one year in length, quarterback Akili Smith has little chance to succeed in Green Bay. He's a player who requires an enormous number of repetitions anyway, and the fact that he joined the Packers after their 3-month off-season program, and is coming into an entirely different offensive system makes failure almost a given.

Barring injury, the quarterback situation in Green Bay probably shakes down this way. Craig Nall gets every opportunity to assume the No. 2 job from Doug Pederson. If Nall wins it and engenders widespread confidence among the coaches in doing so, then Smith would have a chance to stick with an impressive training camp. Coach Mike Sherman still might want Pederson as No. 3 to serve as a security blanket.

However, if Smith offers long-range potential as the eventual successor to Brett Favre, Pederson easily could go and Smith might stay. Eric Crouch is just too short and raw to be much of a factor. Smith, who will be 28 in August, was part of the quarterback draft class of 1999 that was heralded as the best since 1983.

Tim Couch went first to Cleveland, Donovan McNabb went second to Philadelphia, Smith went third to Cincinnati, Daunte Culpepper went 11th to Minnesota and Cade McNown went 12th to Chicago. McNabb and Culpepper rank among the top 10 quarterbacks in the business, Couch has been so-so and McNown and Smith have been busts. The third best quarterback in that draft. Green Bay took Aaron Brooks, in the fourth round.

Last month, a personnel director for a NFL team was asked if Smith could ever be developed.

"You can't say he can't because he's got athletic ability," the scout said. "Sometimes the maturation process is longer for some guys than others. Maybe the change in scenery will help. Maybe being around a guy like Favre will help him. Maybe getting away from that organization will help."

Why was Smith so horrendous in Cincinnati?

"I don't think he has any understanding what's going on," the scout said. "Every time he got to play he just got overwhelmed. He's a good athlete but he's not very well prepared and he's not very smart. He may be worse than that (15 test score). He plays dumb and I don't think he spends a lot of time at it.

"He's an athlete but he doesn't make much as a runner. And I really don't know how tough a guy he is, to be honest with you."

The personnel man said Bengals' officials told him over the years just how eager they were to wash their hands of Smith.

"Every (year) he thought he should be the starter going in," the scout said. "He tried to rally the players against whoever else was the starter. They didn't see any way they could get it done with him."

Clearly, Smith had worn out his welcome in Cincinnati. Following his release, 86.8% of respondents in a Cincinnati Enquirer poll said they approved of the Bengals' decision. For his part, Smith blamed the sad-sack Bengals for his failure, describing his four years as "hell for everybody."

"I'm kind of baffled that they drafted me," said Smith. "Ten games into my second season they benched me, and it was over after that."

In 22 games, including 17 starts, Smith completed 215 of 461 passes (46.6%) for 2,212 yards, five touchdowns and 13 interceptions. His passer rating was a minuscule 52.8. His record as a starter was 3-14.

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