There is all sorts of chatter about the 2018 quarterback class, and it is only going to intensify as the college season gets underway in a couple months. Every evaluator will have something to say about it, and it should make for a wild ten months between now and the 2018 NFL Draft.
In the meantime, one talent evaluator decided to take a look back at some of the names he has looked at over the years. Bucky Brooks is going back to his notes, position-by-position, to come up with a ranking of the ten best players based on his evaluation at the time.
There are a lot of expected names on the list. Cam Newton and Andrew Luck are the top two. Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, and Aaron Rodgers round out the top five. But the most intriguing inclusion is a familiar name. Coming in at No. 10 is former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith. Here’s what Brooks had to say about the former No. 1 overall pick:
It might come as a surprise to see Smith's name on this list, but the Utah standout was an outstanding prospect in the 2005 draft.
He guided the Utes to a 21-1 record as a starter while flashing sneaky playmaking skills as a dual-threat quarterback. Smith totaled more than 5,200 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards as the director of Urban Meyer's spread offense. He was a pinpoint, quick-rhythm passer with enough arm strength and touch to make every throw in the book. He also displayed the speed, quickness and movement skills to threaten defenses on the edges on quarterback keepers. With Smith also showing a high IQ and a winning pedigree, it was easy to envision him blossoming into a franchise quarterback at the next level.
While his career got off to a slow start in San Francisco, Smith has shown the football world in the past several seasons with the Niners and Chiefs that he can play at a high level when surrounded by a solid supporting cast in a system that suits his skills as a dual-threat playmaker. While it's not always pretty, the veteran has become a proven winner as a QB1.
The Smith-Rodgers debate will continue forever, but Smith was certainly no slouch when the decision was made. It was not the most inspiring of picks at the time, but there were arguments to be made (and oh, were they).
Smith got going in 2006, only to suffer a shoulder injury and the loss of offensive coordinator Norv Turner. It took five years to really get his career on track, with the arrival of Jim Harbaugh. He’s a guy who is not regularly going to carry the offense, but can be an important cog. He can carry the team on occasion, but if you surround him with the right talent, you’ve got a good piece at quarterback.
It’s getting interesting, however, in Kansas City. The Chiefs traded up to select Patrick Mahomes in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He won’t be taking Smith’s job this year, but we could see a repeat of his 49ers 2012 history. It remains to be seen if Mahomes will turn into an NFL-caliber quarterback, but if he does, he will be replacing Smith sooner rather than later. At that point, it will be fascinating to see what the next step of Alex Smith’s career looks like. He remains a starting-caliber quarterback, so I’m guessing he would land a starting job somewhere, but does he become more of a bridge or gate-keeper QB than a multi-year starter?