NFL scouts continue to question quarterback Geno Smith's mental toughness and maturity, and it appears the New York Jets rookie signal-caller is playing with a chip on his shoulder. Smith is determined to prove that he can lead an offensive huddle during his first few days of rookie minicamp with the Jets.
Smith is already impressing Jets coaches by taking the initiative and organizing a meeting with his offensive line.
"Yeah, I think that's great," mentioned Rex Ryan of Smith's planned meeting. "It's interesting, because I thought it was unusual the way he did command the huddle." "That was pretty impressive. And the fact that he's already telling the guys (instructions), that's pretty sharp."
Smith is showing the organization that he belongs in professional football early in his rookie campaign. The national media, on the other hand, still has some reservations.
Smith was projected as surefire first rounder and many believed he was the best quarterback in this year's draft. Apparently NFL front offices did not agree as Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel was taken by the Buffalo Bills with the No. 16 overall pick and Smith fell to the second round.
Smith was in the spotlight during the draft because he reportedly planned to leave after the first round but decided to stay in New York for the second round.
Yahoo! Sports reported that Smith was concentrating on his cell phone during pre draft visits, texting friends and checking Twitter regularly instead of engaging with potential teammates and coaches. This led to Smith garnering the reputation as a diva.
"Maybe I don't know what ‘diva' behavior looks like, but he certainly didn't do it here," Ryan said. "He's a football player that you tell loved the game, very knowledgeable about his system, I never saw that at all."
Two talented receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey (both selected by the St. Louis Rams) were both on the Mountaineers roster. Austin had 1,289 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, and he also contributed to the team with his dynamic speed by participating in the rushing attack and return game. Bailey had a year to remember with 114 receptions for 1,622 yards and 25 touchdowns. The Mountaineers had a lot of talent, but will be categorized as a team that underachieved.
Smith has been inconsistent with his accuracy and his footwork has often been questioned. The West Virginia standout took a majority of his snaps out of the shot gun formation, something the Jets do not use often. The Green and White are a run-first offense, especially next season because they will have quarterbacks that are still looking proving their worth under center.
"I like the way that Geno (Smith) threw the ball in particular, (it) looked good to me. He can spin it, that's no surprise there," Ryan said after seeing Smith throw the ball for the first time,
Smith has yet to take a snap in the NFL but is already under the microscope. Once training camp gets underway he will be in a three-horse quarterback race with Mark Sanchez and David Garrard. It will interesting to see if the pressure from the New York media and splitting snaps with other quarterbacks will get to the young quarterback's head or if it will make him perform to his potential.
"It's fair for any rookie to take the criticism, no, I'm just kidding," Ryan quipped. "With us, we just go by what we see."
"But for us, we were impressed with Geno and all the other stuff is behind him."