Smith for Three

JagNation's Charlie Bernstein breaks down the reasons why former Tulsa Golden Hurricane quarterback Paul Smith will still be a Jaguar when September rolls around.

With David Garrard proving himself in 2007 as one of the NFL's solid quarterbacks, along with the Jaguars free agent signing of Cleo Lemon back in March, there certainly wasn't a desperate, nor an immediate need at quarterback in the draft for Jacksonville. It wasn't very likely that the team would select a quarterback in the first day of the draft, even though they would like to have a player that they can develop. As the second day of last weekend's draft rolled around, it became far less likely that the Jaguars would be selecting a quarterback, being that many of the top names were going off the board. The Jaguars ended up passing on a signal-caller to develop with their three second-day picks, but found themselves fortunate to sign former Conference USA Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Paul Smith, after the draft. The feeling of excitement was certainly mutual.

"I'm very excited," Smith said less than an hour after Sunday's NFL Draft was completed. "This is where I wanted to go and the best fit for me."

We believe that Paul Smith will be much more than camp fodder, as he put up some very impressive stats while at Tulsa, and has some discernable skills that should translate into a career in the NFL. In Smith's senior season, he threw for better than 5000 yards (one of just seven D-1 players in NCAA history to do so), and for his career threw for 10,936 yards, completed 808 passes, 83 of which went for touchdowns, which were all school records.

Among Smith's attributes are great mobility, large hands, durability (never missed a game due to injury), good pocket presence, an ability to improvise, and good arm strength on short to medium routes. NFL Expert and former NFL Scout Tom Marino gave this scouting report on Smith–

"Smith is a heady performer with very good playing intangibles. Is smart, aware and was an accurate thrower in the underneath zones. Got the ball out quickly always (cocked to throw), can look off defenders and made good throwing decisions. Has a barely adequate arm and was not imposing physically. Functional, but probably doesn't have starting potential within the league. Should be given strong late round consideration. The perfect third QB."

The Jaguars went with just two quarterbacks on the active roster for much of 2007, following the release of Byron Leftwich just nine days prior to the season opener. As of the start of this year's mini-camp, the team will likely have four quarterbacks, starter David Garrard, backup Cleo Lemon, Smith, and veteran Todd Bouman who was signed by the team to backup when Garrard went down for three weeks with his ankle injury last season.

Despite the 6'1", 208 lb. Smith not being selected in the draft, he is still going to compete for a spot on the Jaguars roster. "This is the same situation as if they took me in the third-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth- or seventh-round," Smith said. "I'm going to compete for making the team."

Jacksonville was not the only team in the Paul Smith sweepstakes as the draft was coming to a close. Reportedly, about 10 teams had plans to sign Smith before he landed with the Jaguars.

"We had a lot of interest from a number of teams," Smith's agent Mark Slough said. "Paul and I talked about it and that was the best opportunity for him. He's excited about working for (quarterbacks) coach (Mike) Shula and (offensive coordinator) Dirk Koetter."

Despite the Jaguars having a very small investment in the former Golden Hurricane signal-caller, he has a major leg up in the competition for the number three quarterback in Jacksonville. Smith's arm seems to fit the offense Jacksonville runs, and he has upside and potential, as he is now the youngest quarterback on the roster by roughly five years. Perhaps the best thing Smith has going for him is his competition, Todd Bouman. Bouman was signed off the street mid-way through last season, and teams weren't exactly making his agent's cell phone light up with requests since he put on the teal uniform (and was subsequently released). The Jaguars would likely be able to keep Smith, and sign Bouman if they needed him at some point throughout the year. If Smith has a solid camp, the Jaguars may not be able to afford to release him and hope he's available for the practice squad.

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